Education nowadays is less about mathematics, natural sciences, and languages. As future-oriented teachers know, in the future one needs more (culturally) flexible, emotionally intelligent employees.
That trend is already being felt: the jobs that have grown the most in the past twenty years, whether we look at the wages or the prospects for employment, ask for quite advanced interpersonal skills to complement other talents.
Cultural competence and emotional intelligence are not only fun to have – they are essential skills.
That’s because the business world knows fewer and fewer limits – digital connectivity makes it possible to find talent all over the world.
Cultural competence and emotional intelligence are not only beautiful qualities – they are essential skills, especially if your team consists of people from Nigeria, China, Italy, and Canada. Moreover, now obsolete hierarchies continue to crumble, more and more people work with and in small, flexible teams of equals, who – depending on the task – can change their authority.
To be able to lead without a title, people must have tightened their interpersonal skills. Marsha Rideout, admissions director at Synapse, a school that is active in the field of emotional intelligence, explains: “You get a job with IQ, but with EQ you keep it.”
At the forefront of education, we already see various innovative approaches to helping children, and young adults develop and refine the main components of emotional intelligence – such as empathy, compassion, and understanding.
Connection between VR with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
What both teachers and researchers have discovered is that virtual reality (VR) is an ideal instrument for this. Children are not empathic by nature – these are skills that need to be learned and practiced.
Because VR can create a compelling experience, this technology is invaluable to SEL. VR can be used to help young learners feel emotions, learn to deal with complex situations and to move in the condition of someone else.
Schools in Texas and Hawaii use VR to improve the empathic ability
At the Chisholm Trail, Middle School in Texas pupils does not only get literature during the English lessons of Chris Caldwell. In the past, his pupils could easily distance themselves from the suffering that these works portray.
However, now Caldwell gives them VR glasses, so they are, as it were, immersed in Europe during the Second World War. Although they initially experience the VR experience as ‘fun,’ that quickly changes. Caldwell says: “The reality of the horrors suddenly becomes much more intense. Now it is no longer so easy to distance yourself from the suffering of others “.
This kind of empathy and compassion is not only good for business but also for society. Unfortunately, it happens all too often that people can not move in the situation of someone else.
The wealthy students at Hawaii’s Mid-Pacific Institute get a VR tour of a homeless life – something they hardly know about. The idea, explains Brian Grantham, director of educational technology at Mid-Pacific, is to give these privileged children a better understanding of what it is like when your world collapses, often without you being guilty of it.
The aim is to broaden the perspective of the students and help them understand what others are feeling and experiencing. This helps the students develop their empathic ability. The approach seems to work well.
Stanford is experimenting with VR to combat racism
Subtle prejudices can undermine productive relationships, but in an increasingly multicultural society, it is essential to respect and appreciate differences. American comedian, satirist, and actor Dave Chappelle once said: “If there were glasses with which you could see how others experience the world, it would probably be frightening.”
He continued, “Thanks to VR we can now see with our own eyes how someone on the other side of the ‘color line’ – a man or woman with a different ethnic background – experiences his or her world.”
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the most prominent African-American human rights activist and academic of the first half of the 20th century, calls this color line the veil that separates white and black.
To get an idea of the pain that racism causes, to understand the reality of a person of color’s life, Stanford University, home of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, has collaborated with the Brown Institute for Media Innovation to the immersive experience of everyday racism.
During this virtual experience, named 1000 Cut Journey, you will be in the shoes of someone who is confronted with racism all day long. The journey offers the opportunity to physically experience your own body with different skin colors (or ages and sexes) and gain insight into your (unconscious) prejudices against other racial groups.
The goal of 1000 Cut Journey is to improve empathic ability and to study the psychological changes that can cause this kind of immersive experiences. Virtual reality is an innovative and useful tool that can be used for emotional learning. With this technology, we can prepare our children for the future of work and help to create a more equitable society.
So, what do you think about this innovation? Do you think it will lead to a better result? Let me know with a comment below!
If you are looking for an inspiring motivational keynote speaker for your next social emotional learning training or conference, consider hiring Derek Clark. His presentations are full of experiential knowledge as he spent 13 years in the foster care system and overcame brutal adversity.