Education is catastrophically deficient in trust. Pro-accountability education reformers presume that, absent carrots and sticks, classrooms would be overrun with lazy and incapable teachers. Traditional instructors presume that, absent carrots and sticks, classrooms would be overrun with lazy and incapable students. Both viewpoints emerge from a noble desire to make classrooms high-performance spaces, but in actuality they suppress excellence.
Dara Feldman, in her inspiring new book, The Heart of Education, makes a strong point that every child -- indeed, every person -- is endowed with the capacity to live a happy, principled life. What is needed is some direction and support to make this happen, and the start of school is an ideal time to set this in motion.
My most important back-to-school supply doesn't fit in a backpack, and it can't be ordered online. It's as essential as a pencil, but unlike a pencil, no technology can replace it. In a sense, like a fresh box of crayons, it can come in many colors. Better than the latest gadget, it's possible to equip every student with it, and even better, when we do, it can transform our world.
"She makes my life miserable every day!" cries Madison, one of the girls in my fourth grade class. She sinks her chubby frame onto the bench next to me, and folds her arms dramatically over her uniform. A pout curls her lower lip and tears twinkle inside her eyelids as she dashes a fierce glance sideways at Hailey, who is still blissfully hanging upside down on the monkey bars.
When I was introduced to the term "social-emotional learning" and began to understand its meaning, I recognized it as a ray of hope. Hope for my community, which, seemingly unbeknownst to me, had changed dramatically over the years.
In a recent blog, I interviewed Dr. Brad Lerman about the Inclusive Schools Climate Initiative (ISCI), which he directs. Here, I share with you examples of some specific ways that several New Jersey schools have used SEL-related approaches to foster best practices for school-wide inclusion and the creation of norms of acceptance and support.
Recent major news stories have been pretty depressing. To mention just a few: the National Security Agency leaks scandal, concerns about the use of drones, self-serving congressional obstructionists, a mayor in Philadelphia supporting the building of a prison and then closing over twenty public schools to save money.
This post stems from New Journalism on Latino Children, translating new research for activists, journalists and policy analysts. The project is based at the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley, in collaboration with the Education Writers Association and the Latino Policy Forum, and funded largely by the McCormick Foundation.