Social Emotional Learning is the way that people learn to interact socially with each other, resolve conflicts and emotionally regulate. Schools are important settings in which that learning takes place.
Social Emotional skills were taught in the past in the home as nuclear and expanded families gathered for meals around the dining room table and socialized after dinner with neighbors and friends in large and small outings and groups. With the advent of so much technology, video games, TV endlessly available, PC’s, laptops, tablets, iPods, Smartphones, etc. personal interaction skills have gone by the way side.
People may be together in a setting, such as a home or office, but they are more likely to be engaged in their own world than in interacting face to face with one another. Studies of younger generation office workers have shown that they will email or text one another rather than getting up and walking a few feet to ask a question in person.
Some parents have even passed the buck on teaching their children social emotional interaction skills by enrolling them in classes where they are taught everything from table manners to small talk skills. These classes are reminiscent of the old British finishing schools where high society teen girls learned how to manage servants, paint watercolor still lifes, arrange flowers and match jewels to evening gowns.
Social Emotional Learning is not taught in schools as part of any curriculum any more. Students who learn these skills usually do so through the intervention of a teacher if the students are in a general education classroom or by a social worker or speech therapist as part of an individualized education plan (IEP) if the student is labeled as “special education” worthy.
By focusing on Social Emotional Learning in schools, we can impact the level of violence and trauma in society, as well as the overall social-emotional and academic success of students from all backgrounds.
Investigation into the backgrounds of shooters in many recent tragedies in the U.S. and around the world have discovered that many of them were known to be “loners”, “aloof”, had few, If any, friends, or have been identified as possibly falling somewhere on the Autism Disorder Spectrum. High functioning autistic people, frequently referred to as having Asperger’s Disorder, appear mostly average, but are frequently socially awkward, missing subtle social cues, and failing to read or understand body language, facial expression cues and other social interaction markers.
To encourage funding for Social Emotional Learning in schools, Ann Marie Sacramone, a licensed psychoanalyst, education consultant and therapist in the New York City area, has begun a petition to add signatures to a letter to Ohio being written by Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. The letter will be sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The letter encourages the Department of Education to include social and emotional learning as part of new proposals concerning school violence.
Click here for more information and to add your voice to the letter.
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