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EDUCATING THE HEART AS WELL ASTHE MIND Social and EmotionalLearning for School and Life SuccessKIMBERLY A. SCHONERT-REICHL AND SHELLEY HYMELA COMPREHENSIVE MISSION FOR SCHOOLS IS TO EDUCATE STUDENTS TOBE KNOWLEDGEABLE, RESPONSIBLE, SOCIALLY SKILLED, HEALTHY, CARING,AND CONTRIBUTING CITIZENS. — Greenberg et al. (2003) 1EDUCATING THE MIND WITHOUT EDUCATING THE HEART HAS PRODUCEDBRILLIANT SCIENTISTS WHO USED THEIR INTELLIGENCE FOR EVIL.— Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu20E D U C AT I O N C A N A D AIC A N A D I A N E D U C AT I O N A S S O C I AT I O NREAD ALMOST ANY SCHOOL MISSION STATEMENT ANDyou will encounter a sentiment similar to that posited hereby Greenberg and his colleagues – asserting the importance of nurturing academic skills alongside social skills.But one needs only to read the latest ranking of schools tosee that the emphasis in schools today is primarily on academic knowledge. Groundbreaking new research, however,is telling us that if we want our children to succeed in bothschool and life, we need to promote their social and emotional skills.2 The need to extend our focus in schoolsbeyond educating just the minds of our children to educating their hearts as well is eloquently emphasized in thesecond quote by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate ArchbishopDesmond Tutu. When Bishop Tutu made this statement in2004 at the University of British Columbia, in a dialoguewith luminaries such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureates theDalai Lama and Shirin Abadi, he was referring to the doctors who committed heinous experiments in Nazi concentration camps. But his point can be extended to the everyday lives of our children, who are frequently confrontedwith moral dilemmas in which both their hearts and mindsmust work together to solve a problem. We are all in danger – as world events continue to teach – when childrengrow up with academic knowledge but lack essential socialand emotional skills such as compassion and empathy. Andso, we argue here that a combination of academic learningand social and emotional skills is the true standard foreffective education for the world we now live in.Social emotional learning (SEL) offers educators, families, and communities relevant strategies and practices to

better prepare students for “the tests of life, not a life oftests”.3 A myopic focus on academic achievement not onlyundermines our children’s potential to become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens, it also threatens theirpsychological well-being and the Canadian economy. Takebullying, for example. In a recent study of 7,235 Canadianyouth, aged 10 to 16, funded by Health Canada’s Division ofChildhood and Adolescence, 33% of boys and 30% of girlsreported being victimized in the previous few months.4 Thevictimization took several forms, including physical assault,ethnic discrimination, rumour victimization, sexual harassment, and verbal assault. Findings revealed that more girlsthan boys reported being teased (79% versus 67%) andhaving rumours spread about them (72% versus 63%),whereas more boys reported physical victimization (45%versus 21%). Being a victim was not without consequence– indeed, victimization was associated with increased mental health problems among the children and youth in thestudy. The detrimental effects of bullying do not end withthe victims, however. A recent study of almost 400 studentsin grades 8 to 10 reported that nearly 87% of the studentshad witnessed either their friends or other students beingbullied at least a few times during the school year and thatwitnessing bullying was associated with higher levels ofdepression.5Bullying is only one example. The mental health problems of our nation’s youth are reaching staggering rates.Epidemiological reports suggest that approximately 20%of children and adolescents in Canada experience mentalhealth problems severe enough to warrant mental healthservices,6 placing a growing strain on our mental healthcare system. By 2020, mental illness is expected to be thecountry’s leading health care cost.Attention to social and emotional issues in school hasalso become a practical concern in education, as teachersstruggle to teach children in a changing and complex society where these skills cannot be taken for granted.The case for SEL in schools becomes even clearer whenone considers that the very nature of school-based learningis relational. Social and emotional skills create responsive,caring, and inclusive classrooms and provide the foundation for building and sustaining learning relationships thatlead to academic success and responsible citizenship.Because many of our students’ interpersonal interactionsoccur there, schools provide adults with a unique and natural setting in which they can intervene to foster the development of social and emotional skills.W H AT I S S O C I A L E M O T I O N A L L E A R N I N G ( S E L ) ?What do we want for our children’s future? What skills andcompetencies do we want them to have to succeed in life?When parents and teachers are asked to consider thesequestions via national opinion polls or surveys, their firstresponses often include social and emotional skills ratherthan traditional academic skills. Educators and parentsalike repeatedly assert their hope that children will behappy, have caring and supportive interpersonal relationships, demonstrate empathy and care for others, makeresponsible decisions, and desist from risky and healthcompromising behaviours. In essence, parents and educators identify those skills on the social emotional side oflearning rather than those on the academic side.E N B R E F La recherche démontre que nous ne pouvons pas – et ne devrions pas – séparer les sentiments de l’enseignement ou de l’apprentissage etque le rôle de l’apprentissage social et émotionnel à l’école est important.D’abord, les écoles sont des lieux sociaux et l’apprentissage, un processussocial. Les élèves n’apprennent pas seuls, mais en collaboration avec leursenseignants, en compagnie de leurs pairs, avec le soutien de leur famille.Ensuite, les émotions peuvent faciliter ou entraver l’apprentissage des élèveset leur succès scolaire, de sorte qu’il importe que les écoles en tiennentcompte dans le processus pédagogique, au profit de tous les élèves. Enfin,les résultats de recherche sont très clairs : les habiletés sociales et émotionnelles aident non seulement les élèves à acquérir les compétences nécessaires pour réussir à l’école, elles les aident aussi à devenir des citoyens plusempathiques, responsables et concernés.SEL IS SOMETIMES CALLED “THE MISSING PIECE,” BECAUSE ITREPRESENTS A PART OF EDUCATION THAT IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED TOSCHOOL SUCCESS, BUT HAS NOT BEEN EXPLICITLY STATED OR GIVENMUCH ATTENTION UNTIL RECENTLY.Social emotional learning, or SEL, is the process of acquiring the competencies to recognize and manage emotions,develop caring and concern for others, establish positiverelationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively.7 In short, SEL competenciescomprise the foundational skills for positive health practices, engaged citizenship, and school success. SEL is sometimes called “the missing piece,” because it represents apart of education that is inextricably linked to schoolsuccess, but has not been explicitly stated or given muchattention until recently. The good news is that these skillscan be taught through nurturing and caring learningenvironments and experiences. Moreover, SEL emphasizesactive learning approaches in which skills can be generalized across curriculum areas and contexts when opportunities are provided to practice the skills that foster positiveattitudes, behaviours, and thinking processes.The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and EmotionalLearning (CASEL; at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is at the forefront in North American andinternational efforts to promote SEL. Founded in 1993 byDaniel Goleman (famed author of the 1995 landmarkbook, Emotional Intelligence) and Eileen RockefellerGrowald, its mission is to advance the science of SEL andexpand evidence-based, integrated SEL practices as anessential part of preschool through high school education.CASEL has identified a set of social emotional skills thatunderlie effective and successful performance for socialroles and life tasks, drawing from extensive research in awide range of areas, including brain functioning and methods of learning and instruction.8 The SEL competenciesidentified by CASEL are presented in Table 1.A GROWING MOVEMENTRecognition of the importance of SEL in schools has spreadrapidly throughout the world in the last few years. Singapore has undertaken an active initiative, as have someschools in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. InEurope, the U.K. has led the way, but more than a dozenother countries have schools that embed social emotionallearning approaches within the school curriculum, includC A N A D I A N E D U C AT I O N A S S O C I AT I O NIE D U C AT I O N C A N A D A21

Table 1: CASEL’s Five SEL Competency AreasSEL DimensionSkillsSelf-AwarenessRecognizing one’s emotions and values aswell as one’s strengths and limitations;sense of self-confidence.Social AwarenessShowing understanding and empathy forothers. Ability to take others’ perspectives;appreciating and interacting with diversegroups.Self-ManagementManaging emotions and behaviours toachieve one’s goals. Being able to regulateone’s own emotions; conscientiousness;perseverance.Relationship SkillsForming and maintaining positive relationships, working in teams, negotiating conflict;seeking help when needed.Responsible Decision-MakingAssessing risks and making good decisions;respecting others; taking personal responsibility for one’s decisions.Table 2: Categories of BC’s Social Responsibility StandardsSocial Responsibility Dimension22Example BehavioursContributing to the classroom and schoolcommunity sharing responsibility for their social andphysical environment participating and contributing to the classand to small groupsSolving problems in peaceful ways managing conflict appropriately, includingpresenting views and arguments respectfully,and considering others’ views using effective problem-solving steps andstrategiesValuing diversity and defending human rights treating others fairly and respectfully;showing a sense of ethics recognizing and defending human rightsExercising democratic rights andresponsibilities knowing and acting on rights andresponsibilities (local, national, global) articulating and working toward apreferred future for the community, nation,and planet possessing a sense of idealismE D U C AT I O N C A N A D AIC A N A D I A N E D U C AT I O N A S S O C I AT I O Ning Australia, New Zealand, and some countries in LatinAmerica and Africa. UNESCO, in 2003, initiated a worldwide plan to promote SEL by preparing a report delineatingten basic principles for implementing SEL based on the latest empirical research in the area.9 The UNESCO report wassent to the ministries of education in 140 countries (available at across the world, SEL has become the organizingumbrella that encompasses many different educationmovements emphasizing similar concepts and skills, suchas programs in character education, violence prevention,anti-bullying, drug prevention, and school discipline. SELprovides a framework within which several seemingly disparate programs and initiatives can coherently worktogether.In Canada a number of SEL initiatives have emerged inthe last several years. For example, in British Columbia in2000, the Ministry of Education identified social responsibility as one of four “foundational skills”, as important asreading, writing, and numeracy. The framework for BC’sSocial Responsibility Performance Standards includes acommon set of expectations for the development of students along four categories (see Table 2, and stands/social resp.htm for the full report).The Vancouver School Board and almost every elementary and secondary school in Vancouver have identified thepromotion of social responsibility as a primary goal. Asstated in the Board’s Accountability Contract: “The goal recognizes that contributing in the classroom and school community in the areas of volunteering, leading, participating,and cooperating is as important as academic, intellectual,physical, artistic and aesthetic achievement. Social responsibility addresses the overarching goal of developingthoughtful, responsible and active citizens.”10The Ontario government is taking the lead from BritishColumbia in identifying the social and emotional side oflearning as integral to education. In October, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a 2 million initiative to supportcharacter education in schools, to inspire students tobecome caring, contributing, and compassionate citizens.The goals of the Character Education (CE) movement are insync with those of SEL, aiming to help students developsocially, ethically, and academically through modeling andteaching practices that infuse character development intoall aspects of the school culture and curriculum. By encompassing the underlying skills necessary to enact good character, SEL is inextricably linked to CE .In this vein, the Roots of Empathy (ROE) program – a primary preventive social emotional program designed topromote children’s emotional and social understandingdeveloped in Canada by Mary Gordon – has been identifiedby Berkowitz and Bier in their 2005 review of what worksin character education.11 ROE, a theoretically derivedschool-based universal preventive intervention, focuses onfacilitating the development of children’s emotional andsocial understanding. Its cornerstone monthly school visitsby an infant and his/her parent(s) serve as a springboardfor lessons that teach infant development, emotion knowledge, and perspective taking. In the 2006-2007 school year,the ROE program is being implemented in over 2,000kindergarten