Schooling Emotional Intelligence Through Narrative and Dialogue. Implications for the education of children and adolescents
Sammanfattning: Abstract The point of departure for this study is the author's experience as educator in a residential home for children (age 6-14) with social-emotional problems, in Italy, between 1980 and 1989. One important element of the pedagogical approach was the use of narratives (personal, of others, of fiction) to prompt children's interest/ motivation to reflect about issues of personal concern. A conviction, grown over the years, that narrative thinking/ talking are powerful factors of resilience, and a dissatisfaction at feeling that knowledge about this experience was still at an intuitive level, has motivated the author to investigate this approach in greater depth. Two main ideas lay behind this research work: - Over the last decade the concepts emotional intelligence and narrative mode of knowing have entered the language of preventive education. The two concepts imply hypotheses and developments but they are relatively new, controversial and still a long way from being organised into a unitary pedagogical theory. - On the other hand, clinical and educational practitioners make strong claims for the effectiveness of narrative based conversations to enhance feelings and thoughts, but they do not provide descriptions of what happens in the interactions, of what educators do to achieve their purpose, of what they do wrong, when communication breaks down and so on etc. In brief, there is insufficient understanding to contribute to a more systematic development of the method and an assessment of the pedagogical results. On the basis of these premises, the research work is constituted by two parts: Theory PART ONE, and Field Study PART TWO. - The aim of PART ONE is to define/ clarify the concepts of emotional intelligence and narrative knowing and highlight some of the links that exist between them, at psychological and pedagogical level. - The aim of PART TWO is, with the support of the framework elaborated on in PART ONE, to explore features, meanings and pedagogical implications of the Genoa experience. Twenty-two conversations were analysed with the following objectives: 1) to identify some of the discursive features which characterise "the narrative talking" of children and educators in their conversations; 2) to investigate how this "narrative talking", so characterised, was used by the educators to achieve intended pedagogical objectives: among others to raise children's interest, to regulate the climate of communication, to help children to reflect about issues of personal concern and understand their feelings. This is an exploratory study. It is concerned with a pedagogical experience in which the researcher investigates her own (and others') practice, and is based on case materials written in form of personal documents. Its overall purpose, therefore, is not to test theories or draw generalisations, but rather to advance ideas and hypotheses for further investigation, and in this way to contribute to the discussion about methodological aspects and pedagogical potential of narrative based conversations with children and adolescents.
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