Emotions are Teachers

Submitted By:
Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles

Emotional Agility as a Tool to Help Teens Manage Their Feelings by Deborah Farmer Kris
KQEd News, February 28, 2017

In this article, educator Deborah Farmer Kris overviews key points from Harvard psychologist Susan David’s book, Emotional Agility (2016). As teachers and administrators launch the new school-year, Farmer Kris’s reasons for teaching emotional agility are timely and instructive. Citing Stanford University research, for example, she explains how reflective writing can translate into academic gains for middle school students and how “scaffolded autonomy” for teens equips them in “how to think” (not what to think). Farmer Kris organizes her highlights of Susan David’s book around five main points related to messages we should teach students about emotions: 1) Emotions are not good or bad, 2) Emotions pass, 3) Emotions are teachers, 4) Courage is “fear walking,” and 5) Values affirmation strengthens emotional agility. While Susan David’s book in full is an ideal resource for exploring emotional agility more comprehensively, Deborah Farmer Kris points educators to some of David’s most crucial findings, offering helpful reminders and insights for our humanities and human development curricula this year. Opportunities abound for teachers to ask students to engage with their own emotions and values; the payoff is both academic and social-emotional.

Psychology & Human Development
Teaching Practice
Social-Emotional Learning