Social Emotional Learning: A Basic Need In Our Schools

Rahama Obadak
Marketing & Comms, Flexisaf

Deena is just eight years old but at such a tender age, it takes a lot of effort to keep her under control. She picks up fights at school, doesn’t treat anyone politely, yells at her parents when corrected, finds solace in destroying things and so on. Deena’s mother is tired of complaints from the school and neighborhood kids and is clueless as to what to do.Chris on the other hand is Fourteen, his mates are terrified of him because he’s always ready to harm anyone with sharp objects he hides in his backpack. Not very long ago, he tried slitting his wrist with a razor blade. When asked why, he said there was no point in living because no one liked him not even his parents.The number of children like Deena and Chris is on the rise. You must have heard about the Parkland shootings and many other cases of violence by young people. The big question remains How Do We Handle Them?It’s typical for you and I to assume they are psychopaths, and regard them as nuisance to society, but what we should have been doing that we seldom care to do, is employing empathy. Do we really ever care to find out why a child behaves the way he does? Do we ever try to find the underlying problem behind their peculiar behaviour?And that’s where… Social Emotional Learning (SEL) comes inWhat is SEL?Psychologists Weissberg, PhD and Durlak, PhD define social and emotional learning as the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to:

  • Recognize and manage their emotions
  • Set and achieve positive goals
  • Demonstrate caring and concern for others
  • Establish and maintain positive relationships
  • Make responsible decisions
  • Handle interpersonal situations effectively

In a study conducted on 11,337 students who showed signs of emotional distress and behavioural problems even though they had not been diagnosed with any mental disorder, the results showed 100% improvement in all of the children after sessions of SEL. Of particular interest to me was anger management and conflict resolution among themselves. If these are properly inculcated in our homes and schools, no doubt the world would be a better place as we don’t have to go overboard feeling anxious about students picking up fights and even beyond that; picking up guns. Weissberg concluded:“Our findings indicate that SEL programs appear to be among the most successful youth-development interventions ever offered to K-8 students. Such programs should be recommended as successful options both during the regular school day and after school for promoting students’ positive behaviors and attitudes toward school, mastery of academic skills, positive mental health, and preparation to become responsible adults.” So, upon adoption of SEL at Deena and Chris's school, what is the likely outcome?From our earlier discussions, it is highly likely that both Deena and Chris will give up their violent acts, maintain positive relationships with peers and be more motivated at school. Exactly what we want with very little effort. What are you waiting for? Adopt SEL now and make your school the best investment any parent can make in their child.As Franklin D. Roosevelt rightly said “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.”What do you think about SEL? Share your thoughts in the form below! We look forward to hearing from you.