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Emotional Intelligence in School: Diving into IQ vs. EQ

As human beings, we all experience a range of emotions throughout our lives, both positive and negative. Emotional health is crucial to our overall well-being, and it involves being aware of our feelings, managing them effectively, and developing strong relationships with others. Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

According to the South China Morning Post, despite its importance, EQ has been overlooked many times as most schools tend to prioritize intelligence quotient (IQ) when it comes to measuring performance. This has resulted in an academic system that often disregards the emotional needs of students, leading to negative consequences such as anxiety, depression, and burnout.

The neglect of emotional needs in these educational frameworks has created a number of negative outcomes, prompting us as Christians to recognize the importance of EQ and its alignment with biblical principles. From a Christian perspective, we find inspiration in the example of Jesus, who mastered emotional intelligence by displaying empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to connect with others on a deeper level. This can be seen from his interactions with people from all walks of life, where he exhibited deep emotional awareness. For example, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught about kindness and empathy by highlighting the actions of a Samaritan who cared and showed concern for a stranger in need. This story exemplifies emotional intelligence by emphasizing the importance of recognizing and responding to the feelings of others, even those outside our immediate circle.

As a Christian school deeply rooted in faith, Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) acknowledges the responsibility to cultivate both cognitive and mental enhancement in our students by incorporating a Christian worldview in every aspect of the learning process to provide a whole and balanced educational experience. Through this practice, our school aims to nurture the intellectual and emotional growth of students, recognizing the interconnectedness of their minds, hearts, and spirits. Our commitment to cultivating both forms of intelligence stems from our belief that an all-encompassing education goes beyond academic achievements alone, and during the process of understanding the importance of holistic development, it is crucial to distinguish between two key facets of intelligence. Let’s dive deeper to learn how these two points contribute to children’s overall growth, social competence, and self-actualization.

Discover. Learn. Thrive.The Difference Between IQ and EQ

To understand the difference between IQ and EQ, it is crucial to analyze what they measure and how they are evaluated.


IQ is a measure of cognitive ability, which covers problem-solving, reasoning, understanding complex ideas, and thinking abstractly. IQ scores are measured by a numerical score obtained from a standardized test. Initially, IQ scores were determined by dividing the individual’s mental age by chronological age and multiplying the results by 100. For example, a child with a mental age of 14 and a chronological age of 10 would have an IQ score of 140. However, today, most IQ scores are calculated by comparing the individual’s performance with the average scores of others in the same age group.


Meanwhile, EQ refers to our ability to recognize and regulate our emotions, as well as our ability to comprehend and relate to others’ emotions. Pioneered by researchers such as Peter Salovey and John Mayer and popularized by writers such as Daniel Goleman, EQ has become a popular subject in various fields, from education to business management. Since the 1990s, emotional intelligence has transitioned from an academic concept to a widely recognized term. Currently, people can purchase toys that claim to enhance their children’s emotional intelligence or enroll them in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs designed to teach emotional intelligence skills.

While IQ has traditionally been viewed as a more critical factor in determining success and enhanced work performance, research has shown that the impact of emotional intelligence can be even more important in many areas of life, including personal and professional relationships, leadership, and overall well-being.

Diving Deeper into Emotional Intelligence

The ability to regulate and manage emotions becomes more refined as children transition into adulthood. With age and experience, children learn to navigate and cope with a wide range of emotions effectively. They develop strategies to handle stress, frustration, and adversity, such as deep breathing, seeking support from others, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation. Through trial and error, they discover what works best for them in different situations.

While it may sound simple, developing these skills and acquiring the ability to cultivate emotional regulation and develop emotional resilience plays a significant role in fostering personal well-being, nurturing healthy relationships, and achieving success in various aspects of life.

Nurturing Cognitive and Emotional Intelligence in Students

When we look at how the topic of IQ vs. EQ relates to education, emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important. According to Yale Medicine, schools that make emotional intelligence a priority are better equipped to help students manage their emotions, develop social skills and empathy, and build strong relationships with others. This can lead to better academic performance and improved mental and emotional health.

At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, they have encouraged educators to utilize RULER, one of the learning concepts modeled on the emotional intelligence theory. Yale states that RULER stands for the following points:

  1. Recognizing emotions in oneself and other people.
  2. Understanding the causes and consequences of those emotions.
  3. Labeling emotions with precise words.
  4. Expressing emotions.
  5. Regulating emotions.

These are the five essential points to incorporate when educating students in schools so that they can recognize their own feelings and others in order to collaborate with others inside and outside of the classroom effectively.

Teachers can create a balanced approach to education by designing lessons and activities that stimulate cognitive and emotional development. For example, they can encourage students to think critically and creatively while also fostering empathy, self-awareness, and emotional regulation through activities such as group discussions, role-playing, and reflective writing exercises. It is also essential to provide students with opportunities to apply their learning in real-world contexts, allowing them to develop the skills they need to thrive in their personal and professional lives.

Read more: Fun and Easy Critical Thinking Activities for 5-Year-Olds

Creating a balanced approach to education requires intentional effort from teachers and school administrators. Still, it is a necessary step in preparing students for success in all aspects of their lives. One of the ways to achieve this is through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

At a number of our campuses, we integrate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs that cover the topics of self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. At its core, SEL does not only aim to improve children’s academic performance but also their overall mental health. According to The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a widely known organization that advocates for SEL programs, implementing SEL in schools has contributed to decreased emotional distress, bullying, and aggression and has increased the sense of safety and support among children.

A sample project that was done at the SPH Pluit Village campus included an activity where our second graders were tasked with the responsibility of writing a letter to Cody, a chosen main character who was having a bad day, and propose a number of self-soothing methods that he can do to self-regulate.  Through this simple yet effective classroom activity, our grade 2 students were able to recognize the emotions of others, identify the pain points, and put themselves in Cody’s shoes. One of our students even recommended that Cody prioritize taking care of his mental and physical health by focusing on his breathing and engaging in playtime with his friends. When students are able to understand the significance of this transferable skill starting from their early years, they can carry it later in life and apply it to different areas as they reach adulthood.

Emotional Intelligence from a Biblical Standpoint

From a Christian perspective, it is essential to consider how IQ and EQ relate to biblical principles. Both types of intelligence are gifts from God, and it is our responsibility to cultivate them in ourselves and our students.  A balanced approach to education involves incorporating both IQ and EQ into teaching practices and creating a learning environment that fosters academic and emotional growth. Therefore, it is vital to recognize the importance of IQ and EQ and to encourage students to develop both types of intelligence. Teachers play a significant role in this process and should strive to incorporate both into their teaching practices to help students become equipped individuals who can make a positive impact on the world around them.

In conclusion, emotional health is a vital aspect of our overall well-being, and emotional intelligence is a crucial skill that can help us manage our emotions effectively and build strong relationships with others. Although IQ has traditionally been viewed as more important in determining success, research has shown that EQ is equally important, if not more so, in many areas of life. As Christians, we have a responsibility to help our children cultivate both their intellectual and emotional intelligence while aligning the practice with biblical principles to prepare them for success in all aspects of their lives. While teachers play a crucial role in creating a balanced approach to education by designing lessons and activities that foster both cognitive and emotional development, parents also play an important role in choosing the right school that will support their child’s overall growth.

The Need for A Holistic Approach to Learning

A holistic teaching approach is about academic excellence and creating an authentic and transformative educational experience where every student’s needs are acknowledged, valued, and nurtured.  As a school that practices the same approach, SPH recognizes academic excellence is a priority, but at the same time, our school understands that education goes beyond textbooks and test scores, which is why we prioritize a student-centered approach, ensuring that their social, emotional, and spiritual well-being are integrated into their educational experience. Through a variety of teaching methodologies, collaborative projects, and meaningful discussions, we encourage students to explore their passions, develop critical thinking skills, and cultivate their own sense of purpose.

Read more: The Importance of Growth Mindset for Learning

Take the next step towards an exceptional educational journey and learn more about Sekolah Pelita Harapan today.

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Sekolah Pelita Harapan

Established in 1993, Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) has become a trusted International Christian School in Jakarta providing Christian education for Indonesian and expatriate families. As a dedicated partner in education, SPH seeks to empower families with personalized programs and resources, fostering academic excellence, nurturing faith, building character, and facilitating their children's personal growth.