The missing piece in our current Education System: Social Emotional Learning

Whether it’s in the classroom or workspaces, individuals need the skills to communicate, work in teams, and need to work through personal and family issues that get in the way of the learning process. These skills add up to what is known as emotional intelligence, and they are even more important as educators realize that these skills are critical to academic achievement.

Emotionally intelligent individuals stand out from the rest of the pack. Their ability to empathize, control impulses, communicate clearly, make thoughtful decisions, solve problems, and work with others earns them friends and success. They tend to lead happier lives and have healthier relationships. At work, they are more productive, active team players and they spur productivity in others. At school, they do better on standardized tests and help create a safe, comfortable classroom atmosphere that makes it easier to learn for self and others.

In order to decode the theory of Emotional Intelligence in school or equip students and school communities with Emotional Intelligence, we need to equip students through social-emotional learning.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is critical to student success in school, work, and life. However, many schools struggle with making it a key component of the schooling experience.

SEL is the process through which children and adults (teachers and educators) acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions:

  • Set and achieve goals
  • Feel and show empathy for others
  • Establish and maintain positive relationships
  • And make responsible decisions.

Education problems in India have been in existence for decades now and a deep concern for educators across different stakeholders. In a country like India, where illiteracy, poverty and unemployment are still primary issues to deal with, where we see the method of cramming and scoring to excel in the rat race being overemphasised as the ultimate pathway to success.

Accompanied by the societal pressures to somehow get into the best colleges, somewhere along this process the objective of imparting knowledge and ensuring general wellbeing of the society gets side-lined. Increasingly people today are finding ways to balance their emotional and social lives, mental health issues among teenagers are on a rise and stress induced diseases are affecting a significant portion of our population.

These are areas of our lives which can be controlled and improved by acquiring social and emotional, which when integrated into our personalities, can ensure healthier interpersonal relationships and a balanced emotional foundation. It would enable us to execute actions in an informed manner and has been shown by research to be a foremost ingredient for success.

Inculcating this crucial component in individuals from a young age, as those are the formative years in a persons’ personality development and would become better equip people to deal with life’s ups and downs. Children from advantages and disadvantaged communities are brought up in much more challenging environments and even with access to education, they are not able to maximise on their individual potential.

Their aims are overshadowed by a general lack of awareness and the striking class disparity that they witness in their day to day lives, which acts as a barrier in developing professional aspirations, personal goals, and self-confidence. Realising and harnessing the true potential of each individual in society is the responsibility of all stakeholders involved in imparting quality education.

Social and emotional learning programs will work successfully when parents and teachers are partners, and that means schools need to train both parents and teachers in ways to promote behaviour that improves communication, empathy, self-awareness, decision-making, and problem-solving. Parents, educators, policymakers, government and business people all have a role to play in supporting the social and emotional learning of schoolchildren.

The need to integrate emotional intelligence in the form of social-emotional learning in every classroom and equipping students and people to explore their unbound potential in a positive way will play a key role in shaping asafe, sensitive and harmonious future for our next generation.

By –JUHI SHARMA, FOUNDER AND CEO OF Light Up ( Emotions Matter Foundation)

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