SEL is important, but where does it fit best among academics?
- Despite a recognition that social-emotional or "whole child" education is important to student success, questions persist about where it best fits in curricula.
- EdSurge reports that these lingering questions were evident at the recent ASCD conference, as focus remained largely on academics and digital resources despite continuing recognition of SEL's importance — though 2009 California Teacher of the Year Alex Kajitani suggested in a session that there is "no line anymore between SEL and 21st century skills."
- SEL, Kajitani said, is what companies want and is especially necessary as tech use grows, since students' awareness of how they present themselves online is as important as the self-awareness and other relationship skills they need for in-person teamwork.
Social-emotional and whole-child learning have gained prominence amid a call for students possessing more "soft skills." These can range from basic social and communication skills to emotional intelligence skills like empathy and character traits like "grit." And as tech's presence in schools has increased, so too have efforts to present these skills in that context, as evidenced by programs that aim to teach students to be good digital citizens.
It's not enough that students complete school with a wide body of knowledge if they don't know how to effectively work with others or motivate themselves in the workforce. Ensuring that students have these skills will also give them the capability to more successfully pivot amid economic changes, or, on a smaller scale, simple changes in what any given job calls for. A need to meet accountability goals or work with more tech doesn't have to be an impediment to providing SEL, but as an opportunity to incorporate them in more creative ways — like the aforementioned digital citizenship efforts or in content itself.
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