Monday, November 14, 2011

Emotional Learning Brings Real Hope to Schools

Learning How to LearnImage by miffdesigner via Flickrby Katherine Gustafson, Yes! magazine:

Most conversation about our schools today seems to revolve around their brokenness: underfunded classrooms, lagging test scores, and harried teachers.

In Cleveland, Ohio, for example, the school district's 2010-2011 “report card” found it had failed to meet Ohio’s education standards in 24 of 25 categories. In such environments, raising academic test scores is seen as the Holy Grail, and doing so while also improving students’ attitudes and behavior a miracle.

Now, a fledgling movement to rethink what students need to thrive is proving that miracles can happen. An educational approach known as social and emotional learning (SEL), being implemented in individual schools - and now, for the first time, whole districts - has proven effective at simultaneously improving students’ academic performance, behavior, and well-being.

SEL prescribes approaching students as complex human beings whose learning and behavior are just as impacted by their emotions - and their control over those emotions - as they are by the quality of instruction and discipline.

Recognizing that intellectual and emotional faculties develop symbiotically, the approach involves teaching students how to recognize and talk about their feelings, empathize with others, and resolve conflicts peacefully as a way to strengthen both academic achievement and emotional stability.

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