Head Smarts Vs Heart Smarts

My teenage son came home exhausted from school recently, 4 ‘brain subjects’ for the day and not an ounce of creativity to break it up for him, but that’s school schedules for you, some days are more enjoyable that others.

 “Why do I have to do English, Maths and Science, I’m no good at them anyway, I’m going to fail NAPLAN and won’t be able to get my HSC, and then I won’t get a job and everyone knows I’m dumb so why bother…” came tumbling out. 

I responded with a deep breath and tried not to show the instant mother freak out I felt on the inside and simply asked “what else?”  He continued,  “none of it’s useful! what am I going to use algebra for or the science equation for sulphur for, or have the need to know what a past participle is?”  We continue with ‘what else’ until he’s done and the angst is out. 

It would seem that that lack of immediate use of what he is learning at school is discouraging him as he can’t see the why (to be honest I don’t see the why behind the equation of sulphur or algebra either but that’s beside the point).  I encouraged him that basic Maths and English are a must and we ask that he do his best to pass; he doesn’t have to excel and be at the top, just do his best to pass. “What if you want to write a screenplay or you to need to send invoices and do bank reconciliations because you’re a creative sub-contractor...” the teenage eye roll made me realise that logic wasn’t going to work and I returned to ‘what else do you feel?  He continued to let out his confusion, fear, frustration and sense of defeat and I breathed deeply.

I sometimes find being a Mum to a teenager quite frankly confronting, and I admit that I often reminisce at how the toddler and young childhood days were filled with laughter, tickles, cuddles and play and how they seemed a lot easier than trying to help my son explore and navigate his teenage and adolescent world through academia, girls and gaming!  

 He asked,“Mum, if you were doing a job you hated, like fixing cars or something (he knows me well) wouldn’t you just do a s#%t job?”  I smiled and said, “no honey, I wouldn’t, I would do the best job I could doing something I didn’t like because it’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it” there’s silence, so I continue, “you see there’s ‘work’ and there’s ‘work ethic’- “work is what you do, work ethic is how you do it”.

There was a moment of silence and he said, “Mum,  now that’s the best education I’ve received all day!” I smiled and the tears welled up.  He went on to say “you teach me more than I ever get at school” and admittedly my heart swelled.  I said, “that’s because I know ‘heart smarts’ and not ‘head smarts’ – I teach you values and life skills and self- awareness, communicating to have good relationships and being able to express yourself.  He said, “well that’s more useful than algebra!” we laugh together and the tension breaks. 

It seems that IQ and EQ are at times at loggerheads both at home and within the workplace and perhaps even more so within the education system, but it’s not about which is better or more useful, there is beauty and value in both and even more value when we learn and allow ourselves to engage our hearts and our minds when we undertake a task - that’s when we can elevate our performance and build strong relationships at the same time.

Would you consider yourself stronger in the ‘heart smarts’ department or the ‘head smarts’ department and what could you do to increase and create more balance between the two?

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