Programa Inteligencia Emocional (PIE)
19 Jul, 2017 | Julie Gaynes
The Emotional Approach
At the forefront of new education developments are both private and public organisations strategising for equality in schools and empowering children through interdisciplinary classroom pedagogy. One of them is Programa Inteligencia Emocional (PIE), a project set up by the local government.
The instructor contorts his face into a mimetic frown and pretends to cry into his hands. After a few moments of gleeful giggling at the grown man's theatrics, 32 children join him in crying. The classroom erupts in wailing, and it is understood by every 5-year-old present that this concept, sadness, belongs to everyone.
Within this 2.5 hour session, a similar process will be repeated with five other emotions: anger, happiness, fear, disgust, surprise. In six other classrooms at this school in central La Paz, kindergarteners undergo the same emotional cycle with educators who have been trained to reach—and teach—where sensitivities lie.
This is the second of three emotional intelligence sessions that these children will participate in this year, as part of a government initiative to reduce the presence of violence in the community. According to the Pan American Health Organization, Bolivia has the highest rate of intimate-partner violence within South and Central America.
The Programa Inteligencia Emotional (PIE), which belongs to the Dirección de Coordinación de Políticas de Igualdad will visit 55 schools this year to provide sessions for young children on how to positively channel their emotions.
PIE's approach is threefold: 1) Teaching to recognising one's emotions, 2) Teaching to identify the emotions of others, and 3) Teaching to manage one’s emotions. After only two years of operation, the programme currently works with children ages 5-6 and 10-11, but hopes to serve youths ages 15-16 in the coming year.
Victor Hugo, the founder and coordinator of PIE, has built a curriculum on principles of Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology and Teaching Pedagogy. While responses from teachers and families have been consistently positive, Hugo acknowledges that the limited number of sessions per child poses a challenge to PIE's impact. He hopes the programme will inspire teacher training in emotional intelligence so the entire educative community can work towards eliminating discrimination and violence in Bolivia.