Learning Emotional Literacy through Humanities in Higher Education: Reflection and a Call for Action

By Amy W. S. Lee.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 4, 2016 $US5.00

Since the 1970s, emotional literacy has been advocated as a part of the humanistic education project. In Hong Kong, the whole person education approach has been advocated for a number of years already, which supposedly contains what Steiner defines as “the ability to understand your emotions, the ability to listen to others and empathize with their emotions, and the ability to express emotions productively.” While this set of abilities sounds commonsensical, the international popular self-help literature business thrives today selling the same set of advice under different covers. The existence of such a business may mean that the education system has not addressed the subject adequately. Although there have been quite a number of studies in Western academia, resulting in numerous approaches towards the role of emotional literacy in the curriculum, the discussion in the Chinese education context has not been as active. Hong Kong has seen a lot of changes in its education system in recent decades, but the role of emotional literacy in this system has not been an important focus of discussion. In 2012, university curriculum changed from three to four years, meaning that students enter university one year earlier, after one public examination instead of two. Educators have noted the general emotional immaturity of the now one year younger freshmen, and their inadequate ability to handle the changes in their lives as a result of this change. The writer of this paper has engaged in teaching literary and film courses with a specific aim to address human emotions and decisions for a number of years. This paper is a reflection on the present emotional literacy education in Hong Kong at the university level, and to share some of the practices and tasks that have worked in the humanities classroom.

Keywords: Emotional Literacy, Higher Education, Course Development, Humanities, Student-centered Teaching, Learning

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp.7-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 4, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 778.813KB)).

Dr. Amy W. S. Lee

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong