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We Need to Redefine Core Competencies to Include Social Emotional Learning

Jason Flom

In education we miss the forest, and sometimes even the trees. Our hyper focus on reading and math test score achievement blinds us -- almost systematically -- to the context in which reading and math are best cultivated. Enter Social Emotional Learning -- it helps bring the ecology of learning into focus, despite the trees.

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  • Cece ChouCece Chou

    Thanks for sharing this great article! And previous comments are very informative too. The five aspects displayed in the chart make great sense, at least for me. As I've never worried about anything other than academic performance before I got into college. And from then on, I've been spending most of my time figuring out how to tackle my temper, how to be truly empathetic for others, how to deal with tough teammates, etc., all of which are not trained in school, nor in family. But it's not anyone's fault. As long as our education system remains unchanged, academic performance might still be the top concern of teachers and parents, making it hard to focus on empathetic education. I was just wondering, if it is possible to set up a class for students to learn interpersonal skills through case-studies, role-playing practices, etc. Students should be evaluated, and their performances should make a difference in their college application. Just a random thought.. :D

  • PhillipPhillip

    Great post Jason!

    Society requires attention to both academic needs and emotional basic needs, but more importantly I think we should focus on how academics can be applied to human-centered needs (emotional, mental, physical, environmental, etc.) are necessary in our society. Unfortunately, the current model eschews human-centered need to focus primarily on production (and thereby consumption.) This focus diminishes human value placing emphasis on process as an un-empathetic model. Our society's relentless emphasis individualism shades the fact that everything we do affects our society, the people around us, the people in our lives.

    • Jason FlomJason Flom

      Astute analysis, Phillip. I think linking behaviors that we train in school to consumptive behaviors post-graduation offers a way to tie long term thinking in with our educational goals. It seems that too often our edu-policies emerge from a horse-race mentality where everything is gauged in the short term. Toward those short term goals, everything is measured against a product, as you suggest, rather than the process. You might be interested in the efforts of Ashoka Changemakers toward increasing empathy. They have a initiative, Start Empathy, which ties into your comment. http://empathy.ashoka.org

      Cheers.

      • PhillipPhillip

        Thank you for the the information on Ashoka Changemakers; I will certainly give them a look. And apologies for the poor grammar up there. I got excited about your post and didn't proofread as thoroughly as I should have!

  • Lindsey SmithLindsey Smith

    Thanks for sharing! I love the chart that displays the key concepts in SEL. The only thing that I think is important to note is that although these concepts are important to be taught in school, it is also important that student's learn these morals at home. It would be better if math concepts were practiced at home, but they aren't always. On the other hand, relationship building is an important skill to learn about from example. Without a supportive home environment, I don't think that SEL would be successful.

    • Jason FlomJason Flom

      I agree, Lindsey. The challenge is, what do we do when students come from homes rife with instability? Do we concentrate on the academics or on the emotional basic needs. I'm more inclined toward the latter, but policy pushes us ever toward the former -- essentially exacerbating deficits.

      I also like the chart. Simple, easy, and accessible. Thanks for the comment.

      Cheers.

      • Lindsey SmithLindsey Smith

        Definitely an emotional basic needs, but with standardized testing today, teachers probably don't have that time. Clearly, the system needs to be restricted! Thanks for the reply!!

        • Jason FlomJason Flom

          You are so right, Lindsey. Teachers are time strapped with mandates. Cheers.