Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

David G. Imig: Emotional Learning in Teacher Education Programs

February 22, 2001

David G. Imig, Ph. D., president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), discusses the importance of training educators to develop both the social and intellectual intelligence of today's children.

1. How are teacher education programs in this country addressing the need for social and emotional learning?

I think that right now there is a tendency in American education to put almost all the emphasis upon achievement. Student achievement is measured in very, very narrow ways. We have almost come to focus on the standardized test as meaning everything. And I think there's a reaction against that today in American education.

Schools of education are trying to take the lead in terms of promoting the concept of attending to the social and emotional intelligence of youngsters. And there's been a lot in the literature on this topic in the last few years: how do you, in fact, build self-esteem in a positive way? This is one of the dimensions of teacher education. How do you do this in a way that in very real ways promotes student learning? A lot of people who are critics of social esteem have talked about it being obvious that the way you do this is make sure that they learn first and then you'll get there. And what we've essentially contended is they have to go hand-in-glove.

We have to work on both dimensions if you will, the intellectual intelligence of the individual. But we also have to work on their social maturity and help them engage. And this is part of the talk about motivating youngsters, a critically important problem given the diversity of American schools and what various kids bring to that experience. Schools of education are grappling with this. There are exemplars across the country of places working on this, trying to create venues or environments for positive teacher education that addresses this is something that many places are about.

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2. What is AACTE doing to promote the inclusion of social and emotional learning in teacher preparation programs?

AACTE is working on a program we call the moral and ethical dimensions of teacher education. And many of these concepts are embodied in that. We're trying to press the notion that as a teacher engages in a classroom, a prospective teacher has to understand what various youngsters bring to that experience -- the kind of esteem that they bring, and then the moral and ethical issues that help a teacher make decisions in a classroom, make decisions about who they attend to, who they work with, how they interact with youngsters, how they promote interaction between and among one another.

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