NPR on Social and Emotional Skills: Everybody Loves them, But We Still Can’t Define Them

August 18th, 2017

Category: Student-Centered Learning

 

The language around building non-cognitive, non-academic skills in students—what we at Rodel call social and emotional learning—continues to be under debate, according to NPR columnist Anya Kamenetz in her recent article,  “Social and Emotional Skills: Everybody Loves them, But Still Can’t Define Them.”

Kamenetz lists almost 10 synonyms of social and emotional learning and offers insight into why researchers and educators prefer one definition to the other. The article notes the preferences go beyond semantics as each term offers a different understanding of what students need.

What’s in a name?

It is all about the approach. While there are some approaches that prioritize a student’s ability to be persistent (i.e. having grit, or growth mindset), there are concerns that these don’t take into account a child’s environment and other social factors. Others believe that terms such as social and emotional learning leave out variables like changing attitudes.

The debate on how to approach building student’s non-academic social skills is deep. Educators, nonprofits, and researchers are constantly considering how to be inclusive of students’ needs and social context, while also ensuring that the approach is not missing key elements such as teaching empathy, or addressing cultural differences.

We highly recommend checking out the article to see how the term determines the approach, and what it could mean for students.

Author:
Shyanne Miller

smiller@rodelde.org

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