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Why Social and Emotional Learning is Useless in the Real World and is a Consequence of a Timid Generation

Updated on April 2, 2015

After completing Jacqueline A. Norris’s “Looking at Classroom Management Through a Social and Emotional Learning Lens,” I was left with many questions as to whether or not social and emotional learning could carry over into the adult world. Although its benefits could be seen in Jacqueline’s school amongst middle schoolers, I find it hard to believe that such success could be repeated outside of a school unless all Americans were taught through a social and emotional learning lens, such as in a national curriculum that incorporates this kind of learning. Also, I was overcome with a growing sense that public schools are increasingly becoming institutions for psychological therapy rather than institutions for learning. Lastly, when I picture myself in the classroom, I envision myself teaching students who are eager and willing to learn about history. I feel frustrated that, instead of focusing on history, I may have to dedicate as much time, if not more, on teaching them how to feel.

I do not believe that the concepts taught through social and emotional learning can carry over into the adult world, especially in the workforce. I do believe, however, that it is a wonderful way to teach children how to respect one another in the classroom setting. One of the questions that arose after reading this piece was: What happens when these students move to high school, college, and then the workforce? Do they really expect to be treated so kindly by everybody? When explaining the results of classroom activities constructed through social and emotional learning techniques, Norris says, “They help to create a climate where students are not afraid of taking risks, asking questions, or making mistakes because they know that any criticism they receive will be given in a respectful and constructive manner” (Norris 316). Towards the end of her article Norris says that social and emotional learning is an ongoing process that one must always work on and never really reach perfection. If that is the case, these children will lose all that they have learned after they graduate to other institutions that do not incorporate social and emotional learning into their curriculum. And even if all of the institutions they attend do incorporate SELL into their curriculums, what happens when they enter the workforce and their boss was not raised under the SELL banner? Imagine somebody confronting their boss about how they do not appreciate how he or she is treating them and that they are not following the standards laid out by a program such a SELL. Not only will their boss most likely fire them for what they believe to be grossly immature behavior for an adult, he or she will not do it in either a constructive or respectful manner! So one cannot help but ask: Does SELL promote life-skills or classroom skills? I believe it is the latter.

How much farther will public schools continue to tangent away from classical education and towards institutions for psychological therapy? This is another question that arose while I read Norris’s article. When Norris says, “Social and Emotional Learning (SELL) is an approach that teaches individuals to recognize, regulate, and express the social and emotional aspects of their lives so they can successfully manage life tasks” (Norris 314), I asked myself: Why should schools have to do this? Should it not be the responsibility of the parents to teach their children how to feel about life experiences? Has this become impossible given the nature of contemporary parents to both be employed and leave the responsibility of raising their children in the hands of the media, teachers, and other outside sources? I constantly hear about the pitiful state of public education in the United States. What is more pitiful, in my opinion, is the overall submissiveness of adults to willingly take the backseat and let others raise their children for them as well as setting the standards on how we should all treat each other. Baby boomers and Generation X’ers are more famous for being laidback and open-minded rather than believing in discipline and taking charge, something I believe my generation of youth was robbed of.


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    • Travis Kaoulla profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from New Jersey

      I agree, peachpurple. Success is not measured by educational standards imposed by higher powers; it is a subjective experience upon which individuals compare their dreams and goals to the reality they created for themselves. If the comparison is a positive one, then one can deem himself successful. That's all that matters in the end!

    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      true, I agree, whatever you learn in school does not compulsory use in the real market world, you gotta outsmart the rest


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