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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Daniel Goleman on the Importance of Cultivating Focus (Video Playlist)

Best-selling author and social-emotional learning pioneer Daniel Goleman offers tips and insights from his new book about how focus drives achievement and success.

Daniel Goleman: The Emotional Atmosphere of a Classroom Matters (Transcript)

Daniel Goleman: If I could change one thing in education, it would be making explicit the now implicit understanding that the emotional atmosphere of the classroom matters. It's not irrelevant; in fact, it's essential to learning. And the reason it's essential to learning, from the scientific point of view, is that the emotional centers of the brain actually can take over the centers for learning, and so our attention goes from what the teacher is saying to that thing that's upsetting us, and the failure to understand this, I think, handicaps education as a system. So, if we were to make explicit the fact that "yes" it matters that students feel safe; it matters that students feel calm; it matters that they're attentive. And they won't be attentive unless they're calm and now that we're ready to learn, we can go ahead.

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  • Field Producer: Marjan Tehrani
  • Consulting Producer: Amanda Hirsch
  • Director of Photography: Gabriel Noble
  • Editor: Jessica Gidal
  • Gaffer: Brian Sachson
  • Audio Tech: Michael Martin
  • Second Camera Assistant: Rob Thomas
  • Associate Producer: Douglas Keely
  • Senior Manager of Video: Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Executive Producer: David Markus

Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist, author, and science journalist. Goleman wrote the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence; his latest book is Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. Goleman is also a co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Keep up to date with Goleman on Twitter or on his website.

View Individual Videos on YouTube:

  1. Daniel Goleman: The Emotional Atmosphere of a Classroom Matters (1:10)
  2. Daniel Goleman: Three Kinds of Focus (1:33)
  3. Daniel Goleman: Distraction is the New Normal (1:24)
  4. Daniel Goleman: Breathing Buddies (1:48)
  5. Daniel Goleman: Attention is Like a Muscle (1:16)
  6. Daniel Goleman: The Importance of Downtime (1:34)
  7. Daniel Goleman: Parents Teach Focus (1:34)

More Edutopia Resources for Cultivating Focus

Comments (14)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Eric David's picture

This is an outstanding resource for improving the multitude of issues that children have to learn to deal with, I highly recommend that everyone who cares about the well-being of children, take a few minutes to view and reflect on the information presented.

Norah's picture
Early childhood teacher, writer, life-long learner

I agree with Eric. This is an outstanding resource. I am currently listening to Daniel's book "Emotional Intelligence". The message of the book and these videos is very powerful. It is a message that every parent and every teacher needs to hear, and respond to with positive actions. The more ways the message can be distributed, the more powerful its influence and the more positive the impact on our world. Keep spreading the message!

Jocelyn Seamer's picture
Jocelyn Seamer
Transition to Year 2 teacher in remote Northern Territory Indigenous School

I love the breathing buddies activity. Our school has purchased 'bio-feedback' software and hardware to help our students learn to regulate their breathing and therefore their emotions. Students are hooked up to sensors on three fingers which monitor heart rate and breathing. They play 'games' on a laptop where they have to breath in particular ways to achieve goals such as making a horn blow. We have had particular success with some older students (approx. 12 years old) who have difficulties with aggression and focus. It has been great to engage these kids in a positive way and help them learn an important skill. Great for the whole school!

Gina's picture

Thanks for sharing this, Jocelyn! It sounds like you are working for a wonderful school.

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