The Emotional Intelligence of Boys

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - By: Clayton Johnston

Definition: noun: emotional intelligence

the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Jane Fonda recently offered a very powerful few minutes at the end of an interview, explaining, in a brutally honest way, that we have let down the boys in our society in terms of nurturing their emotional intelligence. As she explained, boys who are emotionally connected (heart and mind), are often bullied and harassed at school and considered to be ‘sissies’.  Other boys ostracize them often in order to prop up their own esteem issues. In short, in most cases in the world of North American adolescent boys, anyone in tune with his heart is considered weak.

How did we go wrong as a society?

Watching this interview awoke something in me because for a long time I have been trying to articulate how the “Brentwood Magic” (what I have called it for years) works.  Why is it that in our school that boys can, within months of arriving at the school, be on stage singing, acting or dancing; or in the studios feeling liberated to express themselves?  How can the macho ‘’alpha males’ in our school actually be deemed to be cooler when they are in the choir, musical theatre or the art studios? When you think about it, all 24 of our Olympians were seen on our stages and in our studios.  It is part of our culture.  It wasn’t like that when I was in high school!

I realized after watching this brief interview that what Brentwood does is create a safe haven for the development of emotional intelligence.  This is a powerful thing. Beyond this, and perhaps even more importantly, Brentwood removes walls, shields and barriers.  It destroys pre-conceived impressions.  We make it safe to let down guards and to ‘be human’.  Within days, our students realize it is ‘okay’ to explore their artistic sides and push boundaries.  Because of our unique Tripartite Programme, members of our rugby team feel empowered to be in the choir and in musical theatre.  They are in fact ‘cool’ because they have tried to ‘give it a go’.

How cool is that?

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