There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

~ Henry Kissinger ~

Emotions Aren’t Real

September 8th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 48 secs

You can’t think far without emotions. They are a real part of life.

“No, emotions aren’t real. We are only interested in facts.” That was the gist of a consultant’s comments at a recent seminar. He was talking about boosting children’s learning, which clearly, is worth exploring.

Trouble is, this person’s views were grounded in assuming emotion is too hot to handle. That being the case, it’s safer not to treat feelings as real and stick to the “facts” instead.

To be fair, the consultant wasn’t trying to be pig-headed. Our common model for making sense of human behavior relies on measurable events and behaviors. Unless it’s tucked away into a separate box for analysis, the whole emotional realm remains uncomfortably tricky to tackle (roughly the thinking equivalent of picking up treacle barehanded).

That’s why so much research sticks to the solid ground of more measurable behaviors. Feelings don’t fit, so they get relegated to the rather large too hard basket. Placed there, it’s easy to begin believing that emotions aren’t really real; at least, not in any important way.

So, me talking about the relevance of children’s emotions in learning left the consultant’s upper lip twitching. Being the seminar equivalent of a stupid question that made me the class troublemaker.

“If we had to factor in emotions then we’d get nowhere,” he declared. But I wonder. Including elements of real life may be difficult to interpret. Yet dismissing what we can’t pin down seems dangerous to me. The truth is, we humans are complicated. So why not be open to real potentials?

Children, like the rest of us, face life with their emotions switched on. Rather than some layer we can peel off and discard, their realm of feelings is integral to everything. But in an age of technological triumph and analytical fact grinding, any serious talk about the worthiness of feelings seems to be science heresy.

Regardless of all the clever schemes that we pat ourselves on the back about, emotions will continue to flow. They are way too real and all encompassing to be ignored.  Still, the limited nature of our formal thinking refuses to find a balanced view of humanity.

Though you and I, and every child, are infinitely more than what procedures and processes dictate, this resistance continues.  We’re in the Age of Analysis, when squeezing humanity into measurable pieces seems not only reasonable but essential. Hopefully, we’ll laugh loudly about it one day. But, right now, I suspect it’s one of the real reasons why sometimes it’s hard just being human.



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