Friday, May 6, 2011

Teaching Idea: Emotionally Intelligent Signs

On his blog, Daniel Pink routinely posts photos of emotionally intelligent signage—signs that not only direct but also take into account people's emotions in order to be maximally effective. His readers have sent him images from around the world—for example, no smoking notices in an Austin, TX, hotel and, earlier this week, Dutch road signs aimed a curbing road rage—that reflect innovative and creative thinking.

In schools, we (adults) often need to remind students regularly to take (or not take) certain actions, yet students often become immune to our messages. Be quiet in the hallway. Don't leave your book bag on the floor. Shut of the lights when you leave the room. Recycle your scrap paper.  Rarely do we communicate written admonitions with emotionally intelligent signage. And here's where I imagine TOK students could contribute to their school communities.

As a way to explore emotion as a way of knowing, I could imagine offering my TOK students the opportunity (in contest form, perhaps) to design emotionally intelligent signage for the school community. For example, students might be tasked with developing an emotionally intelligent sign to encourage students to be quiet during examination periods. A traditional sign might read, "Please by quiet. Testing in progress." But an emotionally intelligent sign might read, "Quiet Please! You'll be taking an exam sooner or later, too. Please respect those who are taking one now." I could envision a group of TOK students coming up with some interesting—and effective—signs.


  1. I remember signs against littering as a kid. There were the "No Littering - Violators Will Be Prosecuted" signs. And there were the "Keep America Beautiful" signs. The second make a much bigger impact, IMHO - and were positively based. But - emotion can also easily cloud clear thinking - especially in today's youth - which often bases notions of right and wrong on volatile (and often conflicting) feelings and emotion. Much to debate there.

  2. Thank you for sharing this