This summer the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) announced it had chosen eight states to collaborate on creating K-12 “social emotional learning” (SEL) standards. All students, from kindergartners through high-school seniors, would be measured on five “non-cognitive” factors: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Under such a system teachers become essentially therapists, and students become essentially patients. Supposedly this will clear away the psychological deadwood that obstructs a student’s path to academic achievement.
But less than two months later, two of the CASEL states (Tennessee and Georgia) have withdrawn from the initiative. Parents have begun to realize the dangers of SEL and to challenge their schools’ lemming-like march toward psychological manipulation of children.
Federal Government Probes Students’ Psyches
We’ve written about the push by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the rest of the progressive education establishment to transform education from academic content instruction to molding and assessing children’s attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors. The infamous “outcome-based education” (OBE) in the 1990s began the trend, and Head Start and the Common Core national standards advance the same foundational principles.
The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ramps up the trend in several ways. ESSA requires rating schools based partly on “nonacademic” factors, which may include measures of SEL. It also pours money into SEL programs, “which may include engaging or supporting families at school or at home” (i.e., home visits by bureaucrats).
We’ve reported on two dangerous education trends being promoted by the U.S. Department of Education (USED): social-emotional learning (SEL) and high-tech brain-mapping to “personalize” education by probing how a child’s mind works. In its 2012 Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance report, USED enthused over the prospect of hooking children up to various other devices to measure their physiological responses to instructional stimuli. Now comes news that Stanford University researchers are combining many of these elements and using virtual reality to, supposedly, promote students’ SEL.
Just imagine what Thomas Jefferson could have achieved if he’d had access to this type of education rather than being relegated to his boring books and his unmapped brain.
Here’s how one of the Stanford experiments works. A student is fitted with an Oculus headset, headphones, and a wrist device that tracks heart rate and sweat. Through this equipment he’s connected with Emoti, a virtual-reality (VR) program that prompts him to engage in a “mindfulness exercise,” such as deep breathing, when working through a computer instructional program that gradually increases his stress levels. The idea is to train him to behave in a certain way in response to certain stimuli. Dr. Pavlov, call your office.
The graduate students conducting this experiment are trying to turbocharge social-emotional learning by making it “immersive” via virtual reality. This will be more effective, they believe, than anything teachers can do in the classroom to achieve behavior modification – or, as the researchers describe it, “SEL remediation.” Teachers can’t possibly give such personalized feedback, they say. Continue Reading
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) longs to plumb the psyches of our children (as its own reports reveal – see here and here), and it enjoys the eager complicity of state education establishments. As reported by Education Week, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) recently announced that eight states will “work collaboratively to create and implement plans to encourage social-emotional learning in their schools.” These states are jumping on a bandwagon that threatens to roll over innocent children and their privacy.
CASEL is the big gorilla in the zoo of social-emotional learning, or SEL. Having proved so adept at (or perhaps having given up on) teaching students English, math, science, and history, state progressive-education establishments are joining CASEL to explore more esoteric pursuits. Better to diminish academic content knowledge and push SEL: “self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.”
The average parent might object, “Wait, that’s what my child learns from me and from Sunday school.” But CASEL & Co. believe the government should take over in case the parents and church don’t do it right — perhaps teaching the wrong attitudes and mindsets.
Suppose the government decides a child will be a more acceptable student, citizen, and worker bee if he learns to acquiesce to the “consensus” of the group, regardless of his own moral standards, or if she learns to accept that all commands of the government must be obeyed. The student may fulfill the standard by developing the correct attitudes, but under whose authority does the government presume to instill attitudes that may conflict with parents’ desires?