Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning [CASEL], 2020). Within CASEL’s framework, the five competencies are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. Advancing Social and Emotional Learning – CASEL
In the realm of those who work and care for children, we’ve seen the concept of social emotional learning evolve into an entirely new level of importance. Perhaps the idea of SEL is as timeless as the relationship between teachers and students. Plato certainly drew the connection in his work, The Republic, where he determined that “education inclusive of lessons in character and moral judgment, alongside math, music, storytelling, physical exercise and science could better the lives of individuals and elevate societies.” In the late 1960s, child psychologist James P. Comer, MD, MPH and a team of Yale Child Study Center colleagues created the Corner School of Development Program, implementing holistic systems and improving student performance through supportive relationships and a positive educational environment. The concept was further transformed when in 1994 the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) expanded the concept into a multidisciplinary movement.
Today we have the research to back what educators have long understood. That SEL enhances academic performance, can promote increased equity, uplift the individual with their unique talents and interests, and advance the common good. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of meaningful relationships and collaboration on behalf of the goals of the young people in our care. We’ve taken a closer look at the importance of life-long SEL, as well; finding ways to endorse the emotional well-being of adults and taking steps to ensure that our educators are adequately supported and prepared to meet the needs of each child.
As we continue to experience one monumental event after another, we must take note that no voice is too quiet or not important enough. Feelings and emotional expressions are complex and take different forms. In listening to the stories of the ways people live their lives, we can continue to expand SEL practices in a manner that respects diversity, is centered around equity, is culturally responsive, and trauma informed. We can help all people in our communities learn to express complex feelings by blending SEL within the context of a safe, healthy and supportive learning environment for all.
George Lucas Educational Foundation: Edutopia (2022). https://www.edutopia.org/social-emotional-learning-history
Grant, S., Hamilton, L. S., Wrabel, S. L., Gomez, C. J., Whitaker, A., Leschitz, J. T. et al. (2017). Social and emotional learning interventions under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence Review. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2133.html
Jones, S.M & Kahn, J. (2017). The Evidence Base for How We Learn Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute.
Lee, Myungjoon (1994). “Plato’s philosophy of education: Its implication for current education.” Dissertations (1962 – 2010). https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9517932
Taylor, R.D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J.A., Wissberg, R.P. (2017). Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12864
Yale School of Medicine (2019). https://medicine.yale.edu/childstudy/communitypartnerships/comer/