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Commentary on Mark Zimmerman
Emotional Literacy Education Course 101:
Lesson One: What Is Emotional Literacy?
by Mark Zimmerman
Emotional Literacy Education Course 101 Lesson One: Commentary on Mark Zimmerman

Commentary on Mark Zimmerman by Mark Zimmerman I would like to conclude with a quote, which I have written, and which can be found at my Website: emotionalliteracyeducation.com.

There I wrote, "Emotional Literacy Education is the refinement of a knowledge base that has been around for thousands of years. It has been the focus of religion, philosophy, science and psychology. It is Self-Knowledge which has been formulated into a language of emotions which can be taught."

For Emotional Literacy to progress, it needs one more component to its definition. That component is education. Education in the tradition of an educational system.

What truly makes modern culture stand apart from past cultures is our educational system. It is truly the great success story of the last century. For education is the foundation of our culture. Without education there would be no doctors or engineers or musicians or artists. Without education, we would all be illiterate - unable to read, unable to write, unable to think. Without education, without the ability to read, learning, development and human potential cannot be actualized.

So Emotional Literacy, to make it complete, needs one more concept in its definition. And that concept is education.

So I start my quote, "Emotional Literacy Education."

How are we going to become Emotionally Literate? through education.

Education is a technology that we have developed over the past 100 years. Education is a process that we have refined over the past 100 years. Although education still remains an art, it is also a science. And it has proven that we can develop children, and give them skills that they will use for a life time.

How do we become Emotionally Literate? How do we acquired the skills of Emotional Literacy? It's only through an education process. And that's where we run into our own limitation.

What is this educational process through which we learn these skills?

"Emotional Literacy Education is the refinement of a knowledge base that has been around for thousands of years." I have said this, because there have been Emotionally literate persons who have come before us. And their knowledge has been described in different terminology. And it's my preference to organize what they have achieved as Self-Knowledge. For mankind's history is one of trying to understand who we are; and what our relationship is to each other, ourselves and life itself. That's why it's been the focus of religion, philosophy, science and psychology.

Deep inside each one of us is the need to know ourselves. For not to know ourselves, in one sense, is not to exist. In that sense only the society exists.

In my youth I was confronted with many of the same issues that has confronted mankind since its beginning. Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? It's these profound questions that have motivated religion, philosophy, science and psychology.

And in my effort to understand myself and others, in a society that doesn't value Self-Knowledge, or the individual, I found myself by climbing that ladder of my emotions.

By understanding myself and others, I created a set of books titled Knowledge of the Self in Nine Volumes. And I found something peculiar about this series of books that I had written.

That even know I understood their meaning, I found that others were incapable of understanding them. And I have spent the last 20 years trying to figure out a way to take this personal language of Self-Knowledge, and formulate it into a language - which others could understand. And it's been a long journey. I feel within my heart that I have been able to take what was essentially a personal language, that only I could understand, and I have developed it into a universal language, which I believe others can learn.

And its this language, which I call the Emotional Literacy Language, which can be used to educate others to achieve the skills of Emotional Literacy. It was the attraction of the concept of Emotional Literacy, that caused me to embark on this particular journey; towards creating a universal language of emotions, that others could learn to interpret their own emotions.

The idea of Emotional Literacy as a skill, that was being explored by educational psychologists and educators; and knowing that psychology is essentially an exploration in Self-Knowledge, gave me the motivation to try to make this transition from a personal language of Self-Knowledge to a universal language of Self-Knowledge.

Without a language, we can't make a picture of what our emotions are. Without language we have no structure for education. All education is based upon structure. Mathematics provides us with a language. The alphabet provides us with ways to interpret the sounds of printed words. And education must follow a structure. And that structure must follow a developmental path.

Essentially, what is being taught in education are various languages and various skills. Learning how to read is learning a language. It's learning the structure of words. It's learning how to put them in a sentence. Therefore, Emotional Literacy remains just a concept without a solid educational process with which to base it.

Much of Emotional Literacy is the transposing of psychology, and what has been learned by the psychologist in the office with their client; and now it's just being transferred to the classroom. Anger management for children, anti-bullying programs are Band-Aids. Because they do not represent a complete educational system either for children or adults. And as long as we cling to this, Emotional Literacy won't go anywhere. Because people will not be able to learn.

What I have done with my own personal Self-Knowledge is that I have formulated it into a language of emotions which can be taught. Because I have created a structured language. And it is taught through the structure, through the terminology, through the vocabulary.

I continue, "The fundamental principle of Emotional Literacy Education is the need for the individual to understand him or herself and others. The current educational system is based upon the recognition of the need for the individuals to learn how to read, write and do arithmetic. These skills are taught for the economic benefit of the child. Happiness is an emotional state as well as an economic state. What we, as adults, were not taught in school - is how to achieve happiness."

Without the goal of happiness, Emotional Literacy has no meaning. There has to be some emotional state that we are trying to achieve. There has to be a reason for the educational process. There has to be a reward for the person who seeks Emotional Literacy and Self-Knowledge. So anything less than happiness as the goal will keep mankind where it's at.

We were not taught how to be happy in school. They were preparing us to be of a part of an economic system, so that we could fulfil our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. But at the end of the day when we come home from work, and we are full because we've eaten, an emptiness still lingers inside of us. Some emotional emptiness, something in us has not been fulfilled. Some human potential in us has gone untapped. Therefore, the goal of Emotional Literacy Education is no less than happiness for the individual. And when the individual is happy, the society will be happy.

Happiness is not an economic state. Happiness means fulfilling all of our needs. And we can better fulfil our needs through a society that learns cooperation over competition. Our current economic structure is a zero sum game. And it's composed of winners and losers. The zero sum game is a competitive game, a hierarchical game, in which dominance over others is the goal.

It's the structure itself that keeps us from happiness, because instead of cooperating, we compete. Instead of agreeing, we fight. Instead of sharing, we hoard. It's become a world of haves and have nots. And those that have are no happier than those that have not.

But society has come to believe that money is the answer to everything including emotional happiness, but the experience of Howard Hughes proves that that's false.

We must find compassion for one another as adults, forgive our past and work towards an Emotionally Literate Culture. Because that's the only way that we're going to achieve happiness as a society, together.

I further wrote, "Emotional Literacy Education is based upon an Emotional Literacy Vocabulary."

I have taken Self-Knowledge, and I have broken it down into a structured vocabulary, which can be used in the educational process for children and adults. The process for children is different than the process for adults. It is going to be more difficult for we, as adults, to understand this language. But it's time that we try.

I wrote, "Emotional Literacy Education is based upon an Emotional Literacy Vocabulary. It is a means by which language is used to introduce a student to his or her own emotional values."

The vocabulary which comes out of the Emotional Literacy Language is the mechanism that we use to recognize our emotions. And not only our emotions, but also our thoughts, and our behaviors and our needs.

We use words to identify and to recognize our world. The way to recognize ourselves is to have a language which is based upon ourselves. We don't recognize ourselves, because we don't have a language that we study that is about us. All of our language is an objective language. We speak in terms of objects, the car, the telephone, our job. But we don't speak in terms of a language which is self-referential. We don't refer to our own emotions, our own thoughts, our own behaviors. And when we do, we do so in a way that skims the surface, and doesn't produce a detailed image of our emotional makeup.

This Emotional Literacy Language is used to introduce a student to their own emotional values. There is no imposition of values here. It's just a way of defining the emotions you already have, and a way of educating in skills in new emotional responses, that help a person deal with everyday life, situations and relationships.

I wrote, "Emotional Literacy Vocabulary permeates nearly all literature."

That was one of the great realizations that I had. When I took this vocabulary, which came out of Knowledge of the Self in Nine Volumes, and I applied it to classical literature, I found that the text was peppered with emotional content. But I also understood that the authors themselves had a very superficial understanding of the terminology - that they were using in their literature.

I took the classical literature at my Website at: selfknowledge.com, and I hypertext linked this Emotional Literacy Vocabulary to dictionary definitions - to offer some depth to the text. And to demonstrate how common these words are. And how we use them in everyday language, but actually know very little about them.

And we don't use knowledge of these words to our benefit. So, for me, there's been an evolution from Self-Knowledge, a personal language that I formulated for myself, to understand myself, to the realization that it is possible to educate students - both adults and children, in an Emotional Literacy Language. Which will help them to have a better understanding of themselves and others.

I wrote, "Emotional Literacy Vocabulary permeates nearly all literature."

That's how common it is.

I wrote, "In what we write is how we feel, think, desire and behave."

Our literature is a reflection of our emotions.

I wrote, "From this vocabulary a structured language will be taught, which relates to the content of our human selves. When we study ourselves, new choices in our feelings, thoughts and behaviors are made available to us."

Without this exploration, we are stuck with the emotions that we have. And Self-Knowledge, as it's been demonstrated through history, shows us that mankind, that the individual, that society can have a much broader range of emotions, a rainbow. But those higher emotions are potentials - not actualities. Just like the skill of knowing how to read is a potential in the child. And without education that potential will remain undeveloped.

I wrote, "What are the features of an Emotional Literacy Education system?"

The first and most important component of an Emotional Literacy Education system is a language, a universal language, the Emotional Literacy Language. Because in language there is structure. And it's structure which can be taught. And from language, from the Emotional Literacy Language, we can derive its individual components, its parts, which is the Emotional Literacy Vocabulary.

And its this vocabulary which can be instructed. Step by step we can learn to understand ourselves. Because we can use words to make pictures. And those pictures give us a map of our emotions and our thoughts and our behaviors. So one small step at a time, we build the vocabulary in the student. Whether they are adults or children. And it is because it is a language and a Vocabulary that Emotional Literacy Education can utilize the technology of education - that has already been developed over the past 200 years. So in this sense, Emotional Literacy Education becomes a normal educational process, which includes reference material, the Emotional Literacy Language, a curriculum, teaching materials, activities and the achievement of Emotional Literacy Objectives.

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