Hot Topic - Should Social and Emotional Learning be Integrated Into School Curriculum or Not?




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Dec 11, 2018
by Anna Rawe
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Hot Topic - Should Social and Emotional Learning be Integrated Into School Curriculum or Not?

Salzburg Global Fellows share their views during Social and Emotional Learning: A Global Synthesis

A select number of Fellows at Social and Emotional Learning: A Global Synthesis were asked: "Should Social and Emotional Learning be Integrated Into School Curriculum or Not?" We have published their answers below.

"My take on [whether to integrate SEL or not] is in the early years of learning, it should be integrated into other learning areas because you also don’t want to provide a lot of content in the learning areas, or take it as a standalone subject because there isn’t a whole lot you want to tell little children… After mid-level, I think my take is that it should be integrated. We should only look for host subjects that can comfortably accommodate. In the senior level, then you can treat it as [a] separate discipline, and that’s what we are doing in Kenya.”

Grace Maina, Kenya

Curriculum Specialist, Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development

“To me, SEL is about humanity and everything we do, so, therefore, it cannot be separated. For me, it’s got to flip the other way, where SEL is the baseline, and then content areas need to be slotted into SEL. So when I’m designing learning or when I’m working with countries, and they’re designing learning, we are talking about real life situations that require strong SEL tools and processes, and then what are the content areas that align themselves to learn through that."

Joanne McEachen, USA

Global New Measures Director, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, USA

“It needs to be both, and the reason for that… [is] if we have an explicit topic that sits alone that’s a positive step forward because it prescribes, basically this is the minimum standard that we will actually focus on Social and Emotional Learning, but of course, it’s not sufficient. It’s important, but not sufficient. Really we need to do that and make sure we’ve embedded those learnings in rich ways with rich curriculum and content – what disposition are we trying to create here, what skill-set are we trying to create? – and then finding content that supports that notion, as opposed to the old traditional model of schooling, which is: what’s the content we need to teach?”

Louka Parry, Australia

Director of Academy and Training, Education Changemakers

“I believe it’s both. I don’t take a position on either, [and] I think that it is really critical… Reading has its own subject area, and you can’t do social studies, or science or math without knowing how to read, so reading is integrated into all subjects, and I think SEL should be integrated into all subjects. But I also think that it deserves its own place in terms of children’s knowledge development, skill development… I do believe that from pre-school all the way up, that children should get a formal education in social and emotional skills and that it should be aligned with their social and cognitive development. But at the same time, I think there’s a perfect opportunity to integrate this into every subject area.”

Marc Brackett, USA

Director, Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence

“It has to start as a standalone exercise, but gradually it should be integrated into other subjects because the whole purpose of learning is: If you learn maths, you learn calculations, but how do you apply it in your life? If you are learning science and you become a doctor, how would you use your medical practice ethically? … So, as a result, this exercise – Social and Emotional Learning – needs to be integrated with the school curriculum… Maybe if we are beginning, it is possible that you can introduce [SEL] as a matter of practice so that the teachers get more acquainted with the methodology. But, as we move on, the idea, at least in Delhi, is: whatever subject you are teaching, apply the learning of the process that you learned while transacting your happiness class into teaching the subject that you are teaching.”

Shailendra Sharma, India

Principal Advisor to the Director of Education, Delhi City Government

The program Social and Emotional Learning: A Global Synthesis is part of Salzburg Global's multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World. This year’s program is being held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft and Qatar Foundation International, who will also co-chair the program, together with additional partners, the British Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank.




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