‘Social-Emotional Learning’: New Education Fad, Same As The Old Fads

Jul 3, 2019 by

Instead of improving classroom achievement and helping students to reach their highest potential, ‘SEL’ doubles down on failed education fads of the past.

Fads are ubiquitous in American public education, and they’ve only intensified with the increased federalization and bureaucratization of schools. Parents and educators are bombarded with claims that this or that new teaching method will “transform” student learning. Too often, the highly touted technique is little more than a repackaged version of another highly touted technique that has already failed.

However, failure doesn’t come with consequences in American public education, and success is seldom replicated. As a result, some of these fads, boosted by new technologies, linger and even thrive, threatening to inflict harm long after their much-deserved expiration date. Such is the case with social-emotional learning (SEL).

SEL has been defined as “the process by 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.” However, many SEL experts admit there is no consensus on the definition, much less what elements should be included and assessed in SEL programs.

In a nutshell, it’s the latest fad to send the same old message pushed by progressives for more than a century that education should focus less on knowledge of academic content and more on student attitudes, mindsets, values, and behaviors. Does Emily demonstrate sufficient leadership? Does John show the right amount of empathy? SEL cheerleaders also seem hopelessly mired between the competing goals of promoting government-determined, standardized attitudes and assessments, and assuring everyone that they care about children as individuals.

The federal government is pushing SEL on state and local education systems through prescriptive school accountability requirements, grants, and other programs—more than 100 federal programs in seven federal departments and a myriad of agencies, helpfully listed by proponents, even as they say SEL should be a state and local endeavor.

As admitted by the U.S. Department of Education and national special-interest groups, SEL is an integral part of the Common Core State Standards and Competency-Based Education (CBE) movements. CBE digitally documents attainment of SEL and other skills to declare a student ready to move on in his or her “personal learning path,” and supplies data for corporations wanting employees with attitudes fitting their plans. Both these movements are failing academically, and SEL further dilutes the already sub-standard academic education of both.

continued: ‘Social-Emotional Learning’: New Education Fad, Same As The Old Fads

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    I created The Contemplation Music Writing Project in 1975. Education News has published my work. The curriculum ran for over 20 years and was extremely successful with my students. Empirically, I found that students from grades 4 to 6 improved their academic skills in writing, reading, thinking, and creativity. Also, classroom environment significantly improved to a more positive one at the same time as the kids showed greater insight to themselves and others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.