As a faculty member at Arizona State University, I am passionate about teaching Mindset Connections. I am disheartened when I realize that my students are unfamiliar with the terms metacognition, self-reflection, self-awareness, and the list goes on. My students are typically on academic probation. And have experienced what they refer to as challenges, obstacles, circumstances, and even bad luck. In reality, what they have experienced is life. And they were never provided with the opportunities to load their tool boxes with the tools necessary to navigate life. Skills derived from social emotional learning.
Why are we waiting until students are struggling with life at the university level to introduce social emotional learning skills that are essential for success? Why are social emotional skills less important than metrics measured on state and standardized tests?
Exploring social emotional learning with students, as early as kindergarten, is the ideal scenario. When it comes to education and equipping students with the skills to navigate inevitable stages in addition to the social, academic, employment factors that influence this and, in turn, a student’s self-concept. Also school and work play a vital role in our lives and a lack of exposure to social emotional learning can leave students unmotivated and with feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, self-depreciation, and social anxiety.
Research across universities suggests that student retention is problematic for incoming freshman. More often than not, retention has very little to do with academic preparation. As compared to the skills required to anticipate, navigate, manage, and overcome the complexities of “college life”. Cut and dry, this is tied directly to self-concept, mindset, emotional intelligence, and grit to overcome potential failures.
When everyone gets a trophy and praise is person-based, we, as parents and educators, can instill in students something that we are not intending. A lack of social emotional learning in relation to how students view themselves, their abilities, and their potential failures can be crippling and plays a role in the dramatic increase in depression and suicide rates among college students.
It is evident that college-aged students are lacking the skills to navigate the transition to “adulthood”. More universities are establishing courses focused on social emotional learning, personal development, and happiness including Yale, Stanford, USC, and Arizona State University. To combat this, more organizations with a K-12 emphasis are emerging in an effort to change K-12 school cultures. To include an emphasis on self-reflection and intentional empowerment.
Why would they not make that association? Their twelve years of schooling has reinforced that top grades result in the metaphorical “prize”. The business world is shifting and research indicates that by 2020, five million jobs will be lost to automation. What does this mean for our students currently pursuing their degrees and our students currently within the K-12 system? Based on information shared by Forbes and Google, skills such as self-awareness, cultivating relationships, expressing empathy, giving and accepting feedback, self-reflecting, and an ability to work on a team are skills that can protect one’s employability in the future.
We cannot continue to expect our students to carry around an empty toolbox. In today’s world, they are contending with life circumstances and social pressures that many of us can’t wrap our heads around. Then social emotional learning can come in all shapes and sizes and can take place in any given environment. In future blog posts, I hope to explore how parents can cultivate this process at home. And how teachers can incorporate this learning in their classrooms without compromising seat time dedicated to the 3 R’s. Then we can very easily make a shift so that we emphasize all the R’s that are needed…reading, writing, arithmetic, and reflection.