We know that academic knowledge alone is insufficient for one to have a successful life. It takes much more. According to James Heckman, a Nobel laureate in economics, social emotional skills are as important as academic knowledge, specially in regard to professional and personal success.
It is essential to know how to communicate to transmit ideas; to know how to work as part of a team to understand others’ ideas; to be proactive to define the paths of life; and to be perseverant, making sure that such paths will be taken.
It is for this purpose that students, from Pre-K through grade 10, have one period per week formally dedicated to the LIV class, or Life Intelligence Lab. This class has the objective of developing, through gamified and interactive activities, socioemotional skills — also known as “soft skills” in academic literature, and as life intelligence at our school. Critical thinking, communication, self-knowledge and empathy are present as both in the classroom and woven into the fabric of our school culture.
What does this look like in practice?
Life Intelligence Lab
From pre-kindergarten through grade 3, children come into contact with the world of emotions and feelings, discovering themselves by asking simple questions like, “What is anger? And sadness? How do my body and my face react when I feel these emotions?”. Self-knowledge, empathy and their resulting relationships are fundamental parts of the emotional literacy needed in this phase of life.
During this process, the instructor works, in the classroom, with a diverse array of playful materials that connect with the children’s reality. For example, the book Thomas’s Box — a product born of the partnership between Eleva Educação, the children’s author Blandina Franco and the illustrator José Carlos Lollo — which contains 16 chapters, each of which explores a different emotion, such as anger, happiness, jealousy and love.
From 4th grade and up, the Life Intelligence curriculum is based on six skills: critical thinking, proactivity and perseverance, communication, collaboration and creativity. But how exactly does one develop collaborative skills in the classroom? Collaboration can be a rather abstract concept, like many of the other skills, which is why we break down each one into habits, or principles, to help the student internalize the concept.
First is the principle of the “attentive ear”. Listening to what another person says rather than planning what you will say next.
Next, comes the “trading of the hat”. Listening is great, but can we understand what someone else is feeling? What he or she is thinking?
Lastly is the principle of “four hands”. If you listened to an opposing viewpoint and became sensitive to its complexities, are you able to consider all of the possible impacts?
The classes are based on projects, reflections and group activities that stimulate the development of these habits. In addition, all of our collaborators receive training to support these socioemotional skills. In this way, the pillar of Life Intelligence becomes natural and omnipresent in the day-to-day working of the school– in the classroom, across all disciplines, as well as in the hallways and in all interactions outside the classroom.