S5E07-Joshua Freedman

S5 E7: Taking Emotional Intelligence Seriously Helps Us Cultivate Great Places to Learn

“Emotions are neurohormones,” says Joshua Freedman. “And these little chains of chemicals affect every living cell in our brains and bodies.” But for as much power as emotions have over our lives and selves, too often, our educational systems emphasize subject area mastery over cultivating emotional intelligence. Freedman is the perfect person to talk to about this because for the last 25 years has served as CEO of 6 Seconds, and he helped design the Social Emotional Learning Specialization for Antioch University’s Doctor of Education program. In this interview, we talk about how to befriend and learn from the feeling of shame, how to cultivate a school that is a great place to learn, the importance of adult social-emotional learning, and much more.

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Episode Notes

Visit Antioch’s website to learn more about the low-residency Doctor of Education program and its Social Emotional Learning Specialization. 

You can also visit the website for 6 Seconds, which has many resources for understanding and cultivating emotional intelligence. 

This episode was recorded on April 20, 2023, via Riverside.fm and released on May 17, 2023. 

The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University

Host: Jasper Nighthawk

Editor: Johanna Case

Digital Design: Mira Mead

Web Content: Jen Mont

Work-Study Intern: Sierra-Nicole E. DeBinion

A special thanks to Karen Hamilton, Amelia Bryan, and Melinda Garland

To access a full transcript and find more information about this and other episodes, visit theseedfield.org. To get updates and be notified about future episodes, follow Antioch University on Facebook.


Joshua Freedman, CEO of 6 Seconds

Joshua Freedman is one of the world’s top experts on using emotional intelligence to improve performance. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Six Seconds, the global nonprofit dedicated to teaching people how to use emotional intelligence (EQ). He owns the EQ Network group on LinkedIn with over 135k active members and is a master-certified coach. Josh is an instructor for Columbia Teachers College Summer Principals Academy and an adjunct instructor in Antioch’s Educational Doctorate — with a specialization in social-emotional learning in partnership with Six Seconds. He teaches professionals all around the world practical tools to measure and create value with emotional intelligence.  

Joshua leads the world’s largest study of emotional intelligence, with breaking research dropping later this year. He is also the author of 5 emotional intelligence books, including the best-selling At the Heart of Leadership: How to Get Results with Emotional Intelligence. He has helped hundreds of organizations, including FedEx, Qatar Airways, the U.S. Navy, P&G, Microsoft, Intel, Amazon, HSBC, and the United Nations, use emotional intelligence to get better results. His work leads to a people-centered culture that strengthens leadership, sales, employee well-being, retention, and innovation.

S5 Episode 7 Transcript

Jasper Nighthawk: [00:00:00] This is the Seed Field Podcast, the show where Antiochians share their knowledge, tell their stories, and come together to win victories for humanity.

 I’m your host, Jasper Nighthawk, and today we’re joined by Joshua Freedman for a conversation around emotional intelligence, what it is, how it can be cultivated, why it’s important that we equip not just children, but also adults with these skills, and how this concept intersects with work towards social, economic, and environmental justice.

For me, this is a fascinating subject because basically since I was four, I’ve been in various learning spaces—first as a student for sixteen years, then as a teacher in different contexts, and now helping tell the story of Antioch University. And across all of these contexts, I’ve over and over felt a tension between the strong emphasis that we tend to place [00:01:00] on subject matter and the other skills that go into being a successful person on this planet.

So we’ll be studying math and the most important thing is to get the numbers right or we’re studying poetry, which I used to teach. And for a long time I thought that making sure that the students were writing good poems was really the main end goal. This is the kind of thinking that leads to spending weeks out of the school year on standardized testing and you know, it is important that students actually learn things out in the world that need learning. But I think that a lot of educators slowly come to the realization that what we’re actually doing in the classroom goes way beyond subject matter. We’re nurturing an environment where students learn to exist in community with each other. They learn to resolve conflicts and they figure out how to apply themselves in ways that feel good.

They really learn how to learn.[00:02:00] And these meta skills of learning— how to keep going when something is hard, how to self-regulate when you’re upset, and how to collaborate with others in a way that lets us accomplish more than we can on our own. These skills are ultimately just as important or maybe even more important than the subject matter that might be taught on any given day.

So these soft skills generally fall under the umbrella of what today is called emotional intelligence. And increasingly, this is being recognized as an important focus of education at all levels. Which brings me to our guest today, Joshua Freedman, and why I’m so excited to talk with him. So let me quickly introduce Josh.

Josh is the co-founder and CEO of Six Seconds, a non-profit organization with the mission of increasing the world’s emotional intelligence. Six Seconds has been around since 1997, and they’re at least some of [00:03:00] the way towards their dream of getting 1 billion people on our planet to practice emotional intelligence.

To be specific, their organization has already reached over seven million people, which is a big number. In Josh’s twenty-five years leading Six Seconds, he’s led emotional intelligence programs in over fifty countries. He’s written five books, scores of articles, and case studies. He’s also developed six psychometric assessments that measure emotional intelligence and support its growth, and he’s done much more, this is the very condensed summary of that. He’s really a leader in this field. I should mention, part of what brings us together today is that while Six Seconds has long offered certification courses, it’s recently expanded its educational offerings. Through a partnership with Antioch University’s Doctor of Education program, doctoral students can now specialize in social emotional learning.

And here at Antioch, we’re super [00:04:00] excited about this program. So, all that out of the way, welcome to the podcast, Josh.

Joshua Freedman: Thank you, Jasper.

Jasper: So we always start off this show by asking guests as much as they’re comfortable to disclose their positionality so that listeners can know something about where we’re coming from and how us, the voices in your ear, have experienced the world and, and how that leads us to where we are today. So I’ll go first.

I’m a cisgendered man. I’m a US citizen. As far as race, I’m white. I’m Queer, but I live with a lot of straight privilege because I’m married to a woman. I’m not currently living with any physical disabilities, though I do experience anxiety and depression. I have a graduate degree, steady income. I have steady housing, and you know, there are a million other things that make up who I am, but that’s a, that’s a good start. So, Josh, can I invite you to share your own position as much as you’re comfortable?

Joshua: I realized [00:05:00] that I was a white man, fairly recently. I know that sounds strange, but I didn’t think it was very important until just a few years ago and realizing that when I walk into the room, I don’t walk into the room just as me, I walk into the room carrying this positionality and the privilege of being cis, of being over fifty. I’m a dual US, Canadian citizen. I’ve spent a very large part of my life out in the world, leading an organization that works in a hundred and fifty countries and territories. It’s been a remarkable experience to spend, in many years before the pandemic, as much as two-thirds of the year outside of the US and getting to experience a little bit of the world in a lot of different places and I’m an English speaker. I own a home. I’m college educated and I think that I didn’t really understand how much that shapes my perspective and my [00:06:00] understanding of how I walked through the world. I feel deeply grateful to have had in the last four or five years the opportunity to learn more about my positionality and realize how there’re so many things that I haven’t had to see. There’s so many things I haven’t had to learn, and that in turn has helped me deepen my understanding of emotional intelligence and my work as an educator.

Jasper: Yeah, that’s really beautifully put. Thank you for like, explaining why it’s useful to acknowledge these things and also how that’s part of a process of introspection. The last person I talked to on the podcast is an educator named Mariela Marin. And we had a great conversation about this very topic of coming to be aware of your positionality and how that can influence all of the way that you move through the world and your work as an educator.

 I appreciate, I feel like what you just said is in [00:07:00] conversation with that too. So, as we get into the conversation, I do wanna start really with the basics, because I don’t assume that everybody is familiar with these terms and concepts. I have a few questions that I think you’ve probably answered a hundred times or more in different forums.

But maybe a good jumping off place is the name of your organization. Six Seconds. Can you tell us the significance of that length of time, both when it comes to neuroscience and to emotional intelligence?

Joshua: Emotions are neurohormones. They’re chemicals, they’re made of, chains of peptides and these little chains of chemicals affect every living cell in our brains and bodies. They’re part of our body’s regulatory system to help us deal with the opportunities and threats that we face as we navigate life.

And some of those are internal, and some of those are relational and external. The little chemicals of [00:08:00] emotion last for up to about six seconds. And so sometimes we’ll start to produce these neuro hormones and they’ll affect our brains and bodies in, in half a second. But they go into our bloodstream.

They start kind of moving through, looking for matching receptor sites throughout our brains and bodies. And after about six seconds, that little burst of chemical is all gone. And if we feel something for longer than six seconds, it’s because at some level, not necessarily consciously, we’re choosing to reinforce and continue that feeling. If you believe, as I do, that emotions have value and that they’re messages are from us, for us, to help us gain insight and to motivate us to move towards what’s important. Then you have these little six second windows of opportunity. On the other hand, if you don’t wanna feel what you’re feeling or you wanna get out of that state, [00:09:00] you have to wait about six seconds and you can start to move on.

Jasper: Yeah. Although that’s easier said than done at times.

Joshua: Yes, that is true.

Jasper: It seems to me, becoming aware of the way that our emotions sit in the mind, the way that they come out into the world, and the way that they feel in our bodies. Like you saying the six seconds as it kind of passes into your body. I think of an emotion that I experience very strongly is shame when it washes over me. It feels very much like something is washing through my mind. My cheeks get hot and it can be kind of this overwhelming sensory experience that then ebbs, and being aware and having some self-reflection on that seems like part of emotional intelligence, really knowing what our own emotions are.

But [00:10:00] I, I wonder if you could define for us emotional intelligence and how you see it?

Joshua: Well first of all, thank you for sharing that, Jasper. And I think that shame is a feeling that can be very difficult for us to handle. There’s some feelings that are, just like we have friends who are easy, hangout, chill friends. And then we have friends who are like, wow, that’s a lot, takes a lot of energy.

Jasper: Yeah.

Joshua: Shame not an easy friend and for you to have noticed and learned, what it feels like and I imagine, what it means and how it’s affecting you and where it comes from and, why you have it and maybe what it’s trying to do for you, because maybe it’s actually a resource for you. That is all the process of using emotional intelligence. In simple terms, [00:11:00] I define emotional intelligence as being smarter with feelings.

When I first wrote that definition, I said smarter about feelings and then I realized that there are a lot of emotions researchers and a lot of psychologists that I know who are smart about feelings, but they avoid them like heck, and they don’t connect with feelings. And the notion that emotions are, again, they’re part of our regulatory system. They’re affecting every thought that we have. They’re affecting every action that we take, and can we work with that emotion as a source? Of wisdom and of energy to move us towards who we really want to be?

That’s a profoundly meaningful challenge and a place where, going not just to emotional intelligence, but actually emotional wisdom and seeking out this source of perspective and insight, that’s what I would like to do with my emotions.

Jasper: [00:12:00] Yeah, that’s beautifully put. And I think that distinction between being smarter about emotions. It sounds kind of like you’re in a lab coat, examining these emotions on the other side of a piece of mirrored glass. Whereas if you’re being smarter with them, it’s sort of like you’re kind of finding that they’re out there and hooking an arm with them and saying, maybe don’t go in that direction. Maybe let’s go this way. It’s much more embodied and empowering.

Joshua: So I often think about the idea of making friends with feelings and making friends with all of them, even the difficult ones. And I think that, you know, in your introduction, you talked about the connection between these emotional drivers and the way we learn and the way we respond and the way we engage in the world.

And I think particularly for a place like Antioch, when we think [00:13:00] that what it means to be an educated person isn’t simply to know a bunch of stuff, right? But to really pay attention to how are we using that stuff and what is the impact we want to have with this knowledge and this education? How do we want to be part of, engaged with, and influencing the world as educated people? And I actually think that this question of, well, what is it? What is education? What does it mean to learn?

Jasper: Mm.

Joshua: This brings us squarely into this space of the importance of the social and emotional dimensions of learning. If what you mean by learning is I memorize a bunch of stuff and I regurgitate on a test, the social and emotional dimensions are marginally important. But if what you mean by learning is to engage meaningfully in the world, be affected by, and contribute to the world around us and the people, [00:14:00] and try to build a just relationship with ourselves and each other and our planet. All of a sudden that notion that, if that’s what it means to learn to be educated now, the social and emotional dimension of learning is absolutely central to what we are trying to achieve.

Jasper: And I think a lot of us know from experience and we also know from research that the learning style where you just sit down with a textbook and try and cram as much into your head as you can and then regurgitate it on a test is also less effective in the long run for retention of knowledge and for creating people who are happy and creative in deploying that knowledge.

I just want to add to what you were saying. That’s a false paradigm that you can actually separate these two things because, obviously to me at least, a type of learning where you’re not engaged and your emotions are not being taken care of,[00:15:00] in the short run and the long run, is not going to result in as effective of learning across a lot of different metrics, including retention of subject matter.

Joshua: And in meta-analysis of schools that have effective social and emotional learning programs, even the most foundational tasks like standardized tests. Standardized test scores are increased by around 10% for students who have this kind of education. So there is a piece about that kind of basic self-regulation, managing stress, motivating of self. So even in that most simple vision of learning social-emotional dimensions are important.

I was just going to say, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang was a former high school teacher who got interested in this question. How does the brain actually learn? And she’s a neuroscientist at USC right now. One of the things that she has spoken and written about is that [00:16:00] it’s actually our social brains where all learning occurs. We don’t have a calculus part of our brain, and what we’ve done is we’ve kind of repurposed different brain areas and that the brain areas that we literally use in even this kind of most factual learning, they are the social and emotional parts of our brain.

So it’s not that social emotional dimensions are nice to have, it’s literally how our brain learns.

Jasper: Yeah. And I, I want to draw out this one more term, social emotional learning. Can you say how that ties into emotional intelligence and how that term gets used in education today?

Joshua: How it gets used in education today is actually quite a complicated question, but just make a parallel between algebra and mathematical intelligence. Okay, so we have a class in high school called algebra. [00:17:00] We don’t call that class mathematical intelligence 101 or whatever, right? But what we’re using and developing in algebra is our mathematical intelligence.

We’re applying this capacity to accurately acquire and effectively use mathematical data, and we’re using tools and systems that we call algebra to help us refine and develop and apply that intelligence so we could play the same game with social emotional learning and say, we have this capacity for accurately acquiring and effectively using emotional data and we can practice and develop and apply that through a process called social-emotional learning. And social-emotional learning is the kind of methodology that we use in schools to help adults and children grow their capabilities for using their emotional intelligence.

Jasper: Okay. And that kind of ties into the question that I [00:18:00] think is at the center of this for me, which is how do we actually teach emotional intelligence? So you’ve said social emotional learning is like a framework for the actual teaching of this, but what can that look like in the classroom, and maybe with some specifics even?

Joshua: Well, let’s start with you and that eight month old in your house.

Jasper: Yeah.

Joshua: So you’ve probably already noticed that when you’re agitated, when you’re overwhelmed, when you’re impatient, that that little creature starts crying more.

Jasper: Yeah. For listeners, I mentioned before the show that my eight month old child might start screaming at the end of this because he’s napping right now, so that’s what Josh is referring to. Yeah. I’ve certainly picked up on the fact that when I’m super rushed and freaking out, then it seems like somehow my son is as well. [00:19:00] 

Joshua: Yes. Early childhood educators sometimes use the phrase, co-regulation proceeds self-regulation, and that notion that you and your child are co-regulating and you are influencing your child, maybe without even any words, by how you show up, by how you appear, by your energy, by your tone of voice. And that influence has a profound visceral effect on this, this little human. We can see the same thing in high school students and in college students and in adult students. That learning is a relational process. My boss and mentor, Annabel Jensen says, we teach what we are, and we are what we teach. And so as you think about, again, coming back to, what does it mean to be educated and what does it mean to be an educator? [00:20:00] And who are we choosing to be in the presence of the people who we are educating? To me, that is the center of social-emotional learning. Now in many places in the world, that would be a sort of strange notion because there’s a lot of schools that have social emotional learning programs where they say, well this is a box we’re checking and exercises we’re supposed to do with the kids. And to me, that’s very far away. It’s a piece, but it’s very far away from the center of how we really develop emotional intelligence.

Jasper: Yeah. I know that you talk about taking a systems approach to social emotional learning rather than kind of what you were describing, like a program where it’s a framework that gets added on, on top of the way that things are already going. So what does it look like to take a systems approach and try and incorporate that [00:21:00] at the deeper level of the system of the school?

Joshua: So if we think about it, what would it mean to create a great place to learn? A place where, kids and adults or whatever age, they can all be adults or they can all be kids, and its people want to come and want to learn and they love school. I remember visiting a school a few years ago and I was talking to a child and I said, oh, is vacation coming up soon?

And she burst into tears. I was like, oh, no, what did I do? And then she said to me, I’m so sad that I’m not gonna get to come to school. And I thought, well, my goodness, something is happening here, that if you have that kind of passion about being in school, we might be on the right track. And I don’t know about you, Jasper, [00:22:00] and those of you listening, the thought of going back to my elementary or middle or high school, it sounds a little bit horrible.

Jasper: In my own education, I remember certain schools, like middle school, were very unregulated. Just all across everything. It just felt bad to be there. 

But my elementary school that I went to for one year, where I returned and ended up teaching for like six years. It was filled with a kind of light and caring, and for the most part, it was a place that I was so excited to be when I was a kid that I returned as an adult and spent a bunch more time working with those students. And, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Joshua: And why isn’t that the norm, right? I mean, my goodness, what an incredible gift to get to go to school full-time and get [00:23:00] to work in a school full-time. And what a beautiful thing that could be. And I had the incredible privilege of working in a school for a number of years where almost every adult who came and visited said, I wish I could stay here. People described it as this magical castle. I just want to be here. And that to me is, I would like that to be the experience of most children and educators.

Jasper: Yeah, and so you know, through many different educational avenues, but we can talk about the Doctor of Education program here at Antioch. You’re aiming not just to train scholars who like to study these topics and practitioners, but also what you call changemakers and I’m interested in this term, changemaker and how you see [00:24:00] educators really acting as changemakers to build schools and classrooms and contexts where all the members of the community can really participate and be nurtured in this way.

Joshua: So one of the things that’s exciting to me about the educational doctorate with the social-emotional learning specialization is that we have a wonderful mix of scholar practitioners in the program, and many of them are working in K-12 education and in other educational spaces and thinking deeply about how do they want to influence education and what is the contribution they want to make? And in the program, we spend quite a lot of time on yourself. One of our first courses is about this question of are you a leader and what do you wanna lead? What does [00:25:00] that mean and what’s your vision of what you want to contribute to? And then what’s the work to do inside so that you can make that contribution more fully and freely?

I mean, to me that’s, you know, when we think about it, a systems approach to social-emotional learning. We’re looking at pedagogy or andragogy. We’re looking at assessment. We’re looking at policies and procedures. We’re looking at curriculum. We’re looking at the environment. We’re looking at what it’s like to ride on the bus. We’re looking at the ancillary parts of education in the community, sort of considering this larger context. And we think about a child, interacting with all these different people and places and spaces. If all of them are contributing to that feeling of I can’t wait to come back tomorrow, designing so that we could measurably grow those capacities. For us [00:26:00] as adults and for the children or for the learners, having the evidence of growth, having the data that helps us fine tune what we’re doing both individually and systemically, then weaving that into all of these different layers, and that’s a rich and complicated project. What we’ve seen is that when schools even start to approach social-emotional learning in that way, that all kinds of outcomes get better in terms of behavior, in terms of academics, in terms of wellbeing and this wellbeing piece of it, I think, we just can’t emphasize enough that if you’re not well, school isn’t working.

Jasper: That seems self-evident and it seems like it should be one of the highest like key performance indicators and like a blinking red light when a lot of people at the school [00:27:00] are not well. 

Joshua: And I’m sure you’ve, you know, tuned in to the adolescent mental health crisis going on in the United States and the world. The US Surgeon General a couple of years ago, for the first time ever, issued an advisory on youth mental health. It’s such a deep, thorny problem, and I’m not a psychologist.

And I know there are a lot of clinicians at Antioch doing wonderful work in this space and it’s not enough. We need every one of us to have more skills to be able to support emotional wellbeing. It has to become part of the fabric of our society.

Jasper: I hear you describing these schools that kind of, have already achieved this place of feeling like an enchanted castle or just a, a place where, where, you know, an adult might visit and say, “Oh, I wish I worked here. What a great place to spend your time.” 

I wonder how you see these skills working for educators who are working in schools that don’t currently feel that way. [00:28:00] And maybe where they don’t have the support necessarily of higher administration or state authorities to implement social emotional learning as their driver. And yet they have this training. How are they able to bring that into these schools and make that change?

Joshua: So earlier you brought up this word, changemaker. And I think that studying a little bit of Gandhi’s writing inspired me in this area. One of the things he talked about is that nothing you do makes very much difference, but it’s very important you do it anyway. And there’s this premise that, you know, the quote that people use all the time about, be the change you wish to see in the world. That comes from his writing on Satyagraha. And the notion of the work of love, the work of living the way we really want to live, it’s because we are affecting the world. And I think sometimes [00:29:00] people think, well, later you’ll affect the world. And this is something that bothers me in schools sometimes. I hear some schools say, our kids will be future leaders. Okay, what about now? 

This is their life now, and with your little person at home. This is this person’s life now and can we fully richly engage in life at eight months old or you know, twenty-eight months old, or sixty-eight months old, or I don’t know, a thousand months old, but it’s like fully living in line with our purpose, in line with our community, in line with who we want to be. And so as educators, I think we have a remarkable gift and burden that the way we are showing up, that who we are choosing to be, that nothing you do makes very much difference, but it’s so important you do it anyway. It’s educators, it’s even more important we do [00:30:00] it anyway, because everyday we are rubbing off on young people or people.

Jasper: Yeah, that resonates so much with me, because I’ve both seen people who bring that energy of always embodying even on the small things. And I’ve also experienced plenty of people who cut corners. My own teachers, teachers who I’ve worked alongside, and just people out in the world. And I know from some experiences I’ve had as a teacher that sometimes when you engage with a student who is maybe emotionally dysregulated, having a really hard time, unable to complete their assignment and engage with compassion even when it’s hard. I’ve had the experience on a few occasions of after a week or two of responding with sympathy and just extending that hand of like, “I will help you. We’re okay. Don’t worry. We’re not here to worry or to judge you or to [00:31:00] make you feel bad.” I have experienced something that feels like a little bit of a breakthrough where the student feels nurtured and they’ve been caught enough times falling that now they can stand on their own in some new way.

But I’ve also experienced many times of extending that sympathy and having a student lash out at me. And I never see the fruits or experience the fruits of treating that student with compassion and a gentle helping hand. 

Joshua: A few years ago, I got an email from a former student, who I had no recollection of this interaction. It was ten years later and she said, “I just wanted to let you know. I keep thinking about this thing you said to me.” And I’m like, wow, I can’t believe that this little interaction that I had has become a voice in this person. Now, this adult [00:32:00] person’s head.

Jasper: What was the thing you had said?

Joshua: I don’t remember the specifics at this moment, but it was around her using her voice and using her strength and seeing how capable she was.

Jasper: It was encouragement.

Joshua: Yeah, it was encouragement. 

Jasper: That’s lovely.

Joshua: I want to just go back to the thing you said earlier about the dysregulated environment and when a kid’s dysregulated, when parents were dysregulated. When our coworkers were dysregulated. We’re living in a time right now of massive dysregulation.

Jasper: Yeah.

Joshua: When we talk about this mental health crisis, it’s not just people who are in a kind of clinical level of dysregulation. The data is, that we’re all more stressed than we were a few years ago and, not all, on average, more stressed.

Jasper: Someone is on an island [00:33:00] with their feet in the water.

Joshua: And so chances are, whatever your role is in life, whoever you are listening to this, that on average, the people you’re interacting with are more dysregulated, more distressed than they were a few years ago, and you’re carrying more of that burden as a result. So not only have you got your own rocks in your backpack that you’re trying to grapple with, but all these other people are putting rocks in your backpack. So going back to your point about the educator who’s not in a wonderful learning environment, but in an environment where they’re just trying to get through the day and keep things as good as possible, part of that is your own self internal capacity to handle the emotional complexities of your work and life. And so I think at a minimum being able to exercise our own emotional intelligence, being able to practice and grow [00:34:00] so that we show up as more the people we want to be at a minimum, what’s that doing is it’s helping us find more equilibrium in the storm that we’re in, and maybe that creates shelter from the storm.

Jasper: Yeah. And you mentioned that the very first course in the specialization in social-emotional learning in the Doctor of Education program is you begin by looking inward and focusing on your own emotions and cultivating your own emotional intelligence. And I know that social emotional learning as a framework has overwhelmingly been applied to K-12 education.

But you are interested also in adult social emotional learning and the concept that we don’t need to confine these ideas to [00:35:00] a specific age range and then say after that, if you didn’t get it, good luck. So where do we start with adult social emotional learning?

Joshua: So first of all, in the school context, it’s really hard to teach things you’ve never learned yourself. I remember as a humanities teacher, way back when I would get stressed and busy and, kind of come to class not fully prepared, I would end up kind of doing what my teachers did when I went to school, which was kind of lecturing and, you know, not doing great education. When I was really at my most creative and engaged and looking for new inspiration and sources, then I could do a much better job as a teacher. So if we’ve not experienced learning these skills ourselves, it’s going to be tough for us to do a good job educating others. But my own background is primarily with adults.

I work in the corporate sector more than in [00:36:00] the education sector. I work with governments. I work with places like Qatar Airways and FedEx and banks. I work mostly with adults who are trying to figure out how to lead, how to engage, how to connect, how to build teams, how to build healthy organizations. Most of the work that I personally do, and a large part of what Six Seconds does, is in this space of helping adults tune in, get the data, to value our own emotions, value others’ emotions, make friends with feelings as we talked about at the beginning, and realize we have choices and those choices matter. And then how do we assess those choices? How do we calibrate that by understanding what we want to add to the world, what we want to do, what we want to contribute, what’s our purpose? And so if we can get those three parts in line of that awareness of who we are and how we’re being and how we’re reacting, our intentionality of choosing our response and our purposefulness [00:37:00] about stepping forward and contributing in a meaningful way, we unlock something in ourselves and in one another. And that those three parts are actually what we measure in our emotional intelligence assessment for children and adults. And then we have these set of learnable, measurable competencies that equip people to do that. And those tools are a resource to each of us to be able to engage more intentionally and more purposefully.

Jasper: Yeah, that’s an inspiring set of goals to have some tools along the way of, of achieving that and acting with more awareness.

We are right up against our time, but I wanted to ask you kind of a closing question. At Antioch University, we have a mission of preparing learners to address topics of social, environmental, and economic [00:38:00] justice through their work in the world. And I wanted to ask you what the role of social and emotional learning and emotional intelligence is in building justice and equity in education and beyond?

Joshua: So if emotions are messages from us to us, and if big emotions are signals about big opportunities and big threats, then emotions can become a source to help us connect with what’s really important and become guides to us. I think in my own experience, which I would say is quite limited around equity work, around social justice, around environmental justice. There’s a component, both in terms of how we’re making decisions and what we’re paying attention to, also [00:39:00] a component in how we influence and engage others. So the internal and the relational work. I’m a big fan of Adrian Marie Brown’s work and thinking about one of her principles is small is all. And in one of her books, she talks about this idea that if we take the small choices, if we’re careful in the way we engage, that becomes the change that we’re working for in the world. And so these moments of showing up intentionally, purposefully, and making sure that in these day-to-day moments we’re learning how to do that better and better and better. That becomes the, the ripple effect that becomes the template that becomes that small thing that’s so important that we do, and I hope for myself that I’m not trying to do it right all the time. [00:40:00] I’m trying to just be awake a little more of my day. Be careful. Be who I want to be and, and who I want to be is somebody who’s contributing to a just and healthy relationship with one another, with our shared home. And to me the emotions are signals to help me do that.

Jasper: That is so beautifully put, and I think just a lovely place to leave this conversation. We could easily go on for another hour. Thank you so much, Josh, for coming on the show today.

Joshua: Thank you. I really enjoyed the questions that you asked. ​The Doctor of Education degree that we’re talking about, which offers a social emotional learning specialization, is offered in a low residency format through Antioch University’s online offerings. We’ll link to more information in our show notes.

Jasper: We’ll also link to the website for Six Seconds, which has many [00:41:00] resources around emotional intelligence and social emotional learning. We post these show notes on our website, the Seedfield.org, where you’ll also find full episode transcripts, prior episodes, and more. The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University.

Our editor is Johanna Case. I’m your host, Jasper Nighthawk. Our digital designer is Mira Mead. Jen Mont is our web content coordinator. Sierra Nicole E. DeBinion is our work study intern. A special thanks to Karen Hamilton, Amelia Bryant and Melinda Garland. Thank you for spending your time with us today.

That’s it for this episode. We hope to see you next time. And don’t forget to plant a seed, sow a cause, and win a victory for humanity. From Antioch University, this has been the Seed Field Podcast. [00:42:00]