Forum: Not enough recognition given to EQ in pre-school

A teacher with pre-school children at a playground in Jurong West.
A teacher with pre-school children at a playground in Jurong West.PHOTO: ST FILE

From talks of "baby Pisa" (Singapore should aim to be No. 1 in pre-school education, Aug 22) to pre-schools for children with high IQ (Programmes in pre-schools for kids with high IQ, Sept 25) to a tuition industry valued at over $1 billion (Tuition industry worth over $1b a year; Dec 25, 2018), our society is not subtle in its relentless push for developing high intelligence quotient (IQ) in children.

We are clearly not giving proper recognition to an equally, if not more, important kind of intelligence, and that is emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ).

Rather than putting so much academic focus on learning the ABCs and mathematical calculations, our pre-schools should be putting more emphasis on teaching children how to be in touch with their emotions so that they can learn how to deal with them in the proper way.

Unless a child has learnt to be aware of his emotions, he can't possibly be expected to understand the emotions of others, let alone have the necessary empathy.

This will impact his adulthood.

A policymaker lacking EQ will not be able to respond to the needs of citizens with sensitivity and compassion. An employee lacking EQ will encounter great difficulty in collaborating with others in the workplace. A leader lacking EQ will be unable to connect with his subordinates, let alone develop an effective team. A business owner lacking EQ will lack the know-how to cultivate good customer relationships. The list goes on.

As the world becomes increasingly globalised, emotional intelligence will carry even greater significance as cross-cultural, international teams easily compound the intricacy of emotional interactions and expressions.

With artificial intelligence continuing to take over routine and programmable jobs, jobs requiring the human touch can expect to remain.

EQ is not genetic; it is a behaviour that can be learnt and acquired early in life, and should be accorded higher priority in the early formative years.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2019, with the headline 'Not enough recognition given to EQ in pre-school'. Print Edition | Subscribe