Tuesday, November 16, 2021

What Is Social Emotional Learning?

And you thought it was all about teaching Critical Race Theory. Just when you thought that schools were going to rid classrooms of CRT, another malevolent academic force is discovered. It is called, Social Emotional Learning, SEL.  

Concerned parents across the nation are rising up to protest against it. Fair enough, their objections are sometimes good and sometimes not so good. And yet, the salient point is simple: American children are not learning. They are lagging their peers in other countries. Something is seriously wrong with the American way of teaching children.

Now, we know that more and more schools have replaced education by therapy. They have chosen to care more for the emotional well-being of children than for teaching algebra and trigonometry. 

By the terms of SEL, American children might not know anything, but they are emotionally mature. Unfortunately, making children incompetent will surely have negative mental health outcomes.

The Daily Mail reports the story. Who knows how long it will be before the conservative press will find out about this:

A new front in the educational culture wars has broken out, as parents become increasingly concerned about schools teaching programs under the banner of Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

Supporters of SEL say that it is an essential tool for the development of young people - National University describes it as 'a methodology that helps students of all ages to better comprehend their emotions, to feel those emotions fully, and demonstrate empathy for others.'

SEL classes are designed to help the youngest children give voice to their feelings and emotions; older children will discuss mental health, sexuality and race.

It’s all about feeling your feelings, emoting your emotions. As for intellectual achievement, it’s a secondary consideration. Apparently, the movement was inspired by Daniel Goleman’s book-- Emotional Intelligence, published in 1995:

The concept was popularized following the 1995 publication of Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence. Goleman believed there was too much emphasis in schools on intellectual achievement, and not enough attention paid to encouraging qualities such as self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and self-motivation, empathy and social deftness.

If we are seeing a backlash today, the question that arises is: What took them so long?

Yet critics are beginning to question the introduction of SEL in schools.

A September 27 meeting of Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, saw an angry mother, Tara Eddins, called for an end to the program. 

She said that less attention should be paid to mental health, and more to academic criteria. 

'Counsellors need to get back to the business of prepping our kids for higher learning. Not promoting suicide,' she said.

'These kids are trying to get through the day - get through compacted math, algebra, go to cotillion on Sunday - they are not thinking about these issues.' 


Southlake Families PAC, which campaigns against SEL, then sent an email to supporters calling on the school district to 'leave mental health and parenting to parents.'

In Carmel, Indiana one Alvin Lui has raised an alarm about a newly hired SEL officer, by name of  Stephanie Whiteside:

In Indiana, meanwhile, the town of Carmel has seen activists protest at school board meetings this fall, NBC reported - demanding that a district fire its mental health coordinator from what they said was a 'dangerous, worthless' job. 

In June 2019, Carmel Clay School District hired Stephanie Whiteside as their first mental health coordinator. She has hired a series of therapists, and more than 400 students have participated in therapy sessions in the last 14 months, according to the district.

To which Lui responded:

Alvin Lui, who co-founded a group called Unify Carmel, circulated dossiers about Whiteside that included an analysis of posts she had liked or shared on social media.

He said she was anti-police, and said that SEL was 'an extremely deceptive indoctrination system.' 

He said the school did not need therapists, as they should 'involve parents if there's an issue.'

He added: 'But focus the kids on academics. 

'Focus them on something productive and useful so that they feel competent and confident that they're doing well in school. 

'They shouldn't be questioning their gender identity and worrying about marching and worrying about social justice.'

As for the basic tenets of SEL, the Daily Mail explains them. Evidently, we are seeing therapy culture taking over American education. I cannot tell you the extent to which this pervades the school system, but the truth remains: American children are not learning.

SEL stands for Social Emotional Learning, or Social and Emotional Literacy.

It is designed to encourage children to talk about their feelings, and learn how to manage their emotions.

Older students are given skills to discuss sexuality, and some are asked to think about race and racism.

Some parents say that it is a vital tool in helping young people grow into well-adjusted adults.

But others say that it is better left to parents. 

Parents can choose to prevent their children from taking the survey, which has questions like: 'Overall, how much do you feel like you belong at your school?'

Middle and high school students are asked about their sexuality and gender identities, plus - in some cases - their experience of racism.

Some groups are now pushing back, saying that schools are the wrong place to deal with mental health issues.

We will note that a consulting group called Panorama Education has been hawking social emotional learning materials. You might recall that this group is run by the son-in-law of Attorney General Merrick Garland. You remember Garland-- he’s the one who wants to send the FBI to threaten and intimidate parents who speak up against CRT and SEL:

Asra Nomani, the vice president of Parents Defending Education, said schools should not require consultants to discuss students' mental health, and argued that it was not appropriate to ask children about their sexuality.

'What we need to do is to separate the authenticity of social and emotional learning from the activist, divisive agendas of profiteer consulting groups that are basically using our children to increase their bottom line,' she said.

She told NBC that the money spent to hire companies like Panorama could instead be used to hire more school counselors and therapists.

'It took a turn in the summer of 2020, after the tragedy of George Floyd's killing,' said Nomani.

She said SEL had become 'a vehicle for this quote-unquote 'social justice activism' and the indoctrination of controversial ideas related to race, sexuality and even gender and identity.' 

And the movement against SEL has found fertile ground online. 

'SEL sets students up to be 'counseled' to believe things that go against what their parents have taught them,' write one group, No Left Turn in Education, in a October 31 post.

They argue that SEL is pushing children to see themselves as gender fluid, and can expose children to grooming and sexual assault. 

'There are parents who raise their children with traditional family values and a biblical worldview only to have that shattered by adults in authority at school. Do you see it?

'SEL is dangerous. It may not lead to a sexual assault by an adult, but it will likely lead to some serious mental health struggles for many young people. 

How dangerous is it? Taking a page from research performed by Lisa Littman at Brown and Abigail Shrier, for her book, Irreversible Damage, opponents of SEL suggest that it has been producing more transgender children:

'Look at the staggering number of very young women who now identify as transgender or gender fluid. Have you wondered why this is? SEL is not the only cause, but it is certainly contributing to some of the identity issues of our day.'

One mother tweeted: 'This is some of Panorama Ed user guide explaining SEL is a bunch of touchy-feely unlicensed mental health surveys replete with Critical Race Theory verbiage like 'systemic forces of racism and racial bias' and 'lived experience' and 'equitable.' All RI schools data mine ur kids.' 

Kandiss Taylor, running for the governor of Georgia next year as a Republican, tweeted: 'Let's vote for who represents us BEST! A hardworking, non politician, public school educator who will ensure CRT, SEL, CSE or any other communistic, evil, divisive curriculum will never be taught in GA will do just fine.'

Apparently, parents are waking up to what is being taught in America’s schools. You might not like all of the rhetoric, but the truth remains-- American children are not being educated. Now we have a better understanding of why.


Sam L. said...

Is SEL "CRT-light"? That's my guess. And then there's the Democrats and their Teachers' unions subsidiaries. Dumbing Down America is their plan.

markedup2 said...

Can one agree with both sides?
learn how to manage their emotions.
That seems valuable. One of the most important things I've learned of the years is that emotions are internal. No one can _make_ you feel anything. They are outside. The feeling is inside. "You" are the intermediary. That's easy to say. It's not so easy to live by. Having some help at a younger age would have been nice.

On the other hand:
SEL had become 'a vehicle for this quote-unquote 'social justice activism' and the indoctrination of controversial ideas related to race, sexuality and even gender and identity.'
That's not good.

Anonymous said...

I know someone who works as a school counselor. I've asked about SEL. I've seen some bits of basic curriculum information. My understanding is that SEL is essentially for teaching children about how better to recognize and handle their emotions. (A purpose suggested by the reference to Goleman's Emotional Intelligence.)

So there is nothing wrong with SEL per se; it could be used to teach "traditional" behavioral and cultural norms such as respecting yourself and others, self-control, keeping your hands to yourself, being polite, etc.

But -- and this is key -- just like the teaching of history or literature or health, SEL can be used as a vehicle to introduce all kinds of left-wing political or cultural ideologies, such as 'CRT' racialism/identitarianism, anti-capitalism/marxism, anti-traditionalism, gender nonconformity, SJW quasi-religious cultism, etc. For instance, "respecting others" can, under ideological subversion, become "respecting and embracing alternative gender identities" or somesuch.

The other point to recognize is that attacking SEL is a bit of a rhetorical trap. If you walk up to the average ("progressive") teacher or counselor and say "SEL is CRT in disguise and it should be banned!" they'll look at you like you're crazy because it will sound like you're arguing for something akin to banning history classes. You'll sound like you want to ban a category of teaching rather than a specific content. (Compare the pro-CRT motte & bailey argument that, "Anti-CRT parents are racists who don't want us to teach the bad parts of American history." It's a similar rhetorical position.)