Social and Emotional Learning

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 27JAN11 - Daniel Goleman, C...

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 27JAN11 – Daniel Goleman, Co-Director, Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, Rutgers University, USA, speaks during the session ‘The New Reality of Consumer Power’ at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 27, 2011. Copyright by World Economic Forum by Michael Wuertenberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have used the term social and emotional learning several times in this blog and today I would like to shed more light on that term.  What is social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools?,

In this post I will rely heavily on information from CASEL to define and explore social and emotional learning.  CASEL is the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.  It is the leading organization in the USA for advancing the development of academic, social and emotional competence for all students.  CASEL’s mission is to make SEL an integral part of education from preschool through high school.  Their slogan is “Success in School.  Skills for Life.”

According to CASEL, social and emotional learning (SEL) involves the processes through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.  Their belief is that the best learning takes place in a context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging and meaningful.  SEL promotes students’ academic achievement.

Research shows that social and emotional learning enables students to manage stress, set goals and plan for the future.  The benefits of SEL continue into adult life.  To be a good student, citizen or worker one must have social and emotional competence.  CASEL finds that negative activities such as drug use, violence, bullying, and dropping out, can be prevented or reduced by developing students’ social and emotional skills as they progress through school.

CASEL has identified five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioural competencies for social and emotional learning; namely, Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making.  In addition to enhancing students’ lives and progress SEL improves pro-social behavior and school climate.

Social and emotional learning should be timetabled and taught directly to students.  Guidance counsellors are essential in this respect and teachers can be trained to teach SEL.  It can also be infused into other subjects and teachers should model it on a daily basis.  Students should be taught to respect others and look after their welfare.  CASEL has produced many programmes, books and workshops in the effort to advance SEL in schools.

Emotional intelligence ( EQ )  can be seen as a measurement of emotional learning.  In the mid-1990s Daniel Goleman, a co-founder of CASEL, published the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ.”  This made many people aware of the importance of emotional intelligence.  Other researchers also affirm that a person’s emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than his intelligence quotient ( IQ ) in determining success in his life and career.

Given everything we have seen above and the credibility of Daniel Goleman, CASEL, and various researchers in the field, schools need to do everything possible to improve social and emotional learning throughout the student body as they seek to improve student conduct and maximize academic attainment.