Q: Is it possible to boost students’ EI through teaching them skills in social and emotional learning, and if so, how are schools today doing this? Or how should they be doing this?
A: Yes, definitely. It’s called “social-emotional learning (SEL),” and teaches the gamut of EI skills. The lessons are, for example, simulations of everyday childhood crises (He stole my crayon! They won’t play with me!) with kids brainstorming what works and what does not. Or reflecting on their feelings and what caused them. Or, say, remembering to pause and think about consequences before your act when you’re upset.
These curricula are designed to embed seamlessly in standard courses, from gym and English to math, as well as stand-alone weekly modules that might last 15 minutes. A meta-analysis of more than 200 studies comparing kids with and without SEL found antisocial acts plummet, prosocial gain – and academic achievement scores go up 11%. When kids learn how to get their emotional and social lives under control, they can pay better attention.