Why Social Emotional Learning?

Depression is 10 times more prevalent today than it was in 1960.  At that time, the average onset age for depression was nearly 30 years old; by 2010, it had dropped to just 14 ½.

According to a recent UNICEF study, teens in the US rank in the bottom twenty-five percent among developed nations in measures of well-being, life satisfaction and relationship quality.

Our educational system, and in fact, our entire society, has become exceptionally good at teaching subject matter; yet the statistics above demonstrate that something is missing.

More and more educators around the world are seeking Social Emotional Learning (SEL) solutions to address these alarming trends, through programs that focus on improving attitudes, thought processes and perspectives among students and young people.

Our own research concluded that success and happiness are not predicated on what we know, but rather on how we think, interact and live.

This is the essence of Social Emotional Learning.

The definition of SEL has been set forth by the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL), who point to the following 5 Competencies that Social Emotional Learning solutions seek to develop:

  1. Self-Awareness:  The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior.  This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations, and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.
  2. Self-Management:  The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations.  This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
  3. Social Awareness:  The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.
  4. Relationship Skills:  The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups.  This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
  5. Responsible Decision-Making:  The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Through structured curriculum, engaging tools, meaningful discussion, and student reflection, social emotional education solutions help develop these core characteristics.  And despite variations in practice, the results of implementing SEL programs are consistently validated:

2014 analysis of 213 schools which have implemented formal social emotional learning programs in place showed an 11 percent gain in achievement versus schools without any such programs.

A cost-benefit analysis performed by Colombia University concluded that every dollar spent teaching an SEL program yielded an $11 savings through reduced aggression, violence, and substance abuse, and better mental health and improved academic performance.

And a recent Time Magazine article discusses the resulting improvements seen in students’ emotional skills, pro-social behaviors, relationships with others and attitudes about school.

By changing the way students view themselves, their environment and the world, we change the decisions they make and the actions they take in the present.

It is this process of individual empowerment that SEL fosters, and which supports students’ ability to fulfill their potential and create lives they can be proud of.

Click here to learn about the 7 Mindsets Academy social emotional learning solution.

If you have questions or are interested in a closer look at the 7 Mindsets Academy platform, contact us!

Learn more of the history behind the program here.