SEL: The State as proxy parent
Second graders in a California public school are having their “interpersonal and behavioral skills [nurtured] through a variety of educational strategies,” Education Week reports.
“In Susannah Young’s 2nd-grade classroom, the first step in a student’s writing process isn’t a rough draft; it’s a conversation with a peer,” Evie Blad writes for EdWeek. “Students explain their ideas to a partner, respond to questions, and push each other to more fully explore their thoughts before they put them down on paper.”
Having 2nd graders, who are seven or eight years old, explore their thoughts and ideas with one another sounds adorable, but wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to have these children—oh, I don’t know—learn phonics or their times tables or about George Washington?
“Young, who teaches at Oakland’s Lincoln Elementary School, developed the approach through an unusual professional development experience designed to help a cohort of Oakland teachers integrate social-emotional learning strategies into their teaching of traditional academic subjects, like reading and math,” Blad wrote.
This sort of training is going on all over the country, and schools are implementing SEL at breakneck speed. But are social-emotional learning (SEL) standards and their interference in “interpersonal and behavioral skills” really as innocent and “nurturing” as the educational elite would have us believe?
Contrary to what you might hear from leftists in academia, the growth of the SEL movement is nothing less than alarming. SEL is all about teaching children how to think and feel. Its goal is to transfer power parents have had since the dawn of time — to cultivate their own offspring into developmentally sound adults with a strong moral fiber and outlook — to government, whose aim is to create an unoriginal, unimaginative, cog-in-the-wheel mindset for our kids. Government doesn’t want a bunch of little rebel-rousing free thinkers; they want a society fixated on the good of the collective — and it’s starting in 2nd grade.
Jane Robbins and Karen Effrem wrote in the Federalist in 2016 about a new system designed to develop 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,” the authors wrote. “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.”
Are parents aware of the psychobabble inflicted on their children in government schools? Many probably aren’t, because the public school people paint SEL as “nurturing” and nothing more than students talking to each other about their writing projects. A recent letter to the editor in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, however, is more telling about the real goals of SEL.
Writing in favor of a bill to promote SEL in early childhood, the author declares, “Early childhood educators can develop very close relationships with families and young children. We are in the best position to help when we have the right tools. Many teachers in Maine are looking for guidance on how to address challenging behaviors and the emotions behind those behaviors. Social and emotional development is critical for academic success, and we need policies that support young children, their families, and their teachers.”
In other words, parents are idiots and unqualified to deal with the behavioral problems that sometimes occur in young children. SEL will allow the state to step in as a proxy parent, diagnosing children’s problems and instructing them how to deal with them. SEL goes beyond punishing children for breaking the basic “keep hands and feet to yourself” rules; it’s a concentrated effort to manipulate children’s thought processes and conform them to think as the government employee thinks.
SEL is not only dangerous, it’s also stupid and a complete waste of time. “Inquiry,” for example, is one instructional practice SEL-trained teachers use in the classroom. Blad writes inquiry “is basically a structured, reflective conversation through which listeners help guide their peers and challenge their thinking. Teachers in the cohort meet weekly with their school peers and monthly as a large group for open-ended, reflective conversations and to review student work and videos of children interacting in their classrooms. They pay close attention to how students’ emotions and peer interactions affect their learning.”
Why does thinking in public schools — where the instruction is supposed to be about fact-based reading, writing, and arithmetic — need to be “challenged”? And what’s the point of teachers meeting and watching videos of children interracting in classrooms (a disturbing practice on its own) if the “reflective conversations” they have afterward are “open-ended”?
Furthermore, what gives these teachers authority or expertise to analyze and judge students’ emotions? Presumably not wanting to participate in silly SEL activities would earn a student a “negative emotion” mark for the day. And then what? Would such a child be sent to the principal’s office for “bad vibes” that may have influenced their “peer interactions”?
SEL is spreading like wildfire in places like California, Chicago, Cleveland, Maine, North Carolina, and elsewhere. People are buying into it because it’s packaged nicely, but what they don’t know about SEL will hurt their children in the long run, when they finally realize their kids have been turned into emotionally brainwashed robots who have replaced mother and father with Big Brother and no longer think or feel for themselves.