Emotional Intelligence as a Constituent of Sophisticated Thinking: Teaching Non-Fiction in the English Language Classroom
At World Economic Forum in Davos a new list of skills required for the future jobs has been devised. According to the Forum report, rapid changes and unprecedented advancement in science and technology will inevitably cause the shift in the recruitment criteria throughout the world – from focus on stand-alone problem solving skills with people management skills towards the complex comprised of problem solving and critical thinking skills, creativity, and emotional intelligence. The Forum report has unwittingly voiced the new educational objectives, which now have to be implemented in the educational process and will doubtless affect the organization of the educational process.
The aforementioned new set of skills brought into focus is thought by the authors to be the integral components of sophisticated thinking which, in its turn, doesn’t develop on its own but needs conscious enhancing by teachers and students. The authors have long been studying how developed sophisticated thinking impacts a person’s self-identity and the enhancement of their professional skills. The current study is attempting to find evidence which confirm a hypothesis that the ability to recognize and regulate one’s own feelings as well as the emotions of others and the capacity to apply this information to the process of thinking and problem solving is an indispensable constituent of sophisticated thinking.
The paper presents the provisional results of the ongoing multi-staged project. For the purpose of the first five-month stage, which is being described in the paper, a qualitative study has been conducted. The participants of this study were the second-year students of RUDN University of Russia. They were divided into two groups: throughout their English classes the first group was required to do reading and watch short videos with follow-up discussion tasks without prior development of their disposition towards emotional intelligence, while the second group had to carry out the tasks aimed at the enhancement of their emotional intelligence before they went on to perform the same tasks that the first group did. The choice of materials for the designed tasks was based on the deepening distrust and growing prejudice of many Russians and European people against Muslims in light of the atrocities against non-Muslims committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly known as ISIS. Among the materials used, there were articles from The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, the Independent and many others.
The results collected from the study indicate that the students with developed emotional intelligence showed more willingness to understand and, to some extent, accept the fact that the worldview of the Muslims is shaped by their religious denominations while the European view is affected by their ethnicity, which accounts for the difference in their traditions and customs, their behaviour and way of thinking. Such awareness is expected to provide for the unbiased approach to addressing problems, which will doubtless foster the development of sophisticated thinking.