Saturday, July 09, 2005

Social and Emotional Intelligence

In comments, Annette posted an interesting article published in Edutopia Magazine in 2003. It raises several questions relevant to MMHS as it relates to parental rights. But first, a few snips:

Like all communities, Plainfield has some students who come to school with emotional and behavioral challenges that affect their perseverance and success as learners. Too often, these challenges disrupt their focus on being successful in school. Disaffection, alienation, anger, hostility, and emotional instability influence the academic and behavioral choices made by these students.

Social and emotional learning [SEL] was the "missing piece," as Rutgers University Professor Maurice Elias has termed it. It has become standard practice for curriculum and instruction staff to embed SEL learning experiences into all new curriculum guides.

We can no longer afford to marginalize social and emotional learning in the context of a "No Child Left Behind" policy environment. Leaving no child behind requires school leaders to embrace the responsibility of nurturing the social and emotional well being of our nation's children.

This is one of the boldest embodiments of the Nanny State that I've seen to date: You're a terrible parent, so step aside so we can raise your children. [Nevermind that the average school struggles to teach Johnny to read. Now they want to kiss his emotional bobos as well as medicate his mental deficiencies?] Here are my questions:

Economics and culture play an indirect role in the way parents choose to raise children, but are these the two main obstacles "less fortunate" kids must overcome? And, in the absence of proper instruction at home, are schools the best substitute? If so, do we need a whole new program [SEL]? Wouldn't it be more efficient to just create and maintain a healthy learning environment that mirrors reality and naturally fosters the development of the mind?

"No" to all of the above (imho). If schools utilize the same principles to patch our children's psyches as they do to teach academics, the result will be children who can't read OR think. This article mentions moving away from standards based education in favor of SEL. In the current scheme of things, is that possible?

Schools are morally relativistic philosophical voids obsessed with political correctness. If there are no realistic standards for academics, will there be no standards for behavior as well? If so, how is that different from what we have now? If not, to what/whose standards do we adhere (besides those of Marx and Kant. After all, they're how we got here to begin with.)

Last question: Has anyone else noticed that the government's answer for "less fortunate" and "disadvantaged" demographics is to create artificial environments (welfare, NCLB, free market restraints, etc) focused on celebrating the most minute of accomplishments, only to turn those ill-equipped proteges out in the real world where their failure rates are much, much higher?

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