Schools are an important context for children’s social-emotional development. In classrooms and other school settings, children need to have skills such as managing negative emotions, being calm and focused, following directions, and navigating relationships with peers and adults. Children need to develop these skills early on in life and carry them as they grow to become responsible citizens of this society and world.
Yet, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is not part of the “agenda.” Indeed, what is on paper (policy) does not always get implemented, but at the same time, the focus in schools is always on what the system demands, or in simple terms, on what gets measured (learning outcomes). A great example is teachers rushing to complete the curriculum without giving much attention to children’s social-emotional needs, even when they know the significance of SEL. The rationale is that teachers neither have the time to do so nor the required expertise. On the other hand, when programs such as the Delhi government’s Happiness Curriculum are bold enough to experiment and eventually showcase the positive results of creating time and safe spaces for children to build emotional awareness and to support decision making with that emotional awareness, others are not far behind to follow. Broadly, the data also suggests that prioritizing SEL will create supportive environments and thus reinforce efforts to address students’ academic needs.
About Jayanti Bhatia:
Jayanti Bhatia is a 2020 graduate of the Ed.M. International Education Policy program from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and is working as an Education Consultant with the World Bank. She is passionate about Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) to prepare children for facing the unknown.