Emotional literacy, a term used frequently to describe the ability to comprehend emotion in oneself and others and to display emotions in ways that are deemed appropriate by the society in which one lives, has come to be identified as one of many literacies that are necessary to function in the 21st century world. Other literacies that have come to be seen as a necessary part of life include: computer literacy, a skill which is assisted in the education system from the onset of schooling; visual literacy, a skill which is developed to some extent within classroom contexts and to a larger extent in art classes, and social literacy, a skill often focused upon as the result of contextual events in the classroom, or in the form of special programs, such as “Roots of Empathy” that specifically target social development. In schools today, the development of emotional literacy is often left to chance, where rather than facilitate children’s emotion understanding, children are left to their own devices to come to terms with how they feel and how to show their feelings. Yet children who are emotionally literate, who manage their feelings well and recognise and respond appropriately to the feelings of others are at an advantage both within the school context in all other areas of life (Goleman, 1995), while those who experience unresolved emotions are more prone to learning and memory difficulties (McKnight & Sutton, 1994) and poor relationships with peers and adults (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1995).
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