Education Letter to the Editor

We Do Little to Teach Emotional Management

January 29, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Educators receive more helpful advice and information than ever (“Guidance Given on Young and Disruptive,” Jan. 16, 2008). We know how to teach students effectively, and accommodate those who need it. But we still have too many students behaving in unhealthy, self-defeating ways that negatively impact their education.

Behavior of any kind starts and continues because it serves a purpose. It’s always goal-orientated. Students often have “mistaken” goals, however. Generating a dysfunctional amount of emotion in the form of anger, anxiety, depression, shame, guilt, loneliness, and even boredom gives purpose to unhealthy, self-defeating behavior, and also gives rise to these mistaken goals.

We do little if anything in public education to really teach emotional management. Rules and consequences don’t do it.

The most important step in improving emotional management is developing an internal locus of control. Most people, including teachers and parents, have an external locus. They believe that what others say and do, and what happens, determines how they feel. That causes them to generate more emotion than necessary or helpful, to miss opportunities to feel better, and to behave in self-defeating ways.

It is our thoughts about what happens that cause how we feel, however, not the events of our lives. We do little to teach or encourage students to have an internal locus of control. We actually do quite the opposite.

We also do little to teach them to recognize and correct the irrational thinking that gives rise to a dysfunctional amount of emotion and unhealthy, self-defeating behavior. We teach the scientific method in science classes, but do little to teach or encourage students to apply it to their everyday lives.

Teaching students to have better emotional management would be the cheapest, quickest, and most effective way to address all the various problems individuals, schools, and society face.

Ray Mathis

McHenry, Ill.

A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 2008 edition of Education Week as We Do Little to Teach Emotional Management


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.
3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
Betty Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.
Courtesy of Abby Koch/Globe Gazette
Education Briefly Stated: December 1, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read