February 06, 2018
Have you ever heard of "Social emotional learning" (SEL)? It's the new fad in public schools that has permeated education policy. Proponents of SEL claim that injecting the SEL agenda into all pre-k and K12 curricula will cultivate in children the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors necessary for academic achievement, such as empathy and regulation of emotions.
In an FRC Speaker Series event, Senior Contributor to The Federalist Stella Morabito revealed how SEL is presented with a veneer of building kids' self-confidence, but in reality is a form of groupthink through the regulation of personal interactions and relationships. The SEL model is taught in a way that requires total compliance with its methods, including the monitoring and tracking of students' emotions. As Morabito pointed out, those pushing the SEL agenda have fallen into the trap of a collectivist utopianism that believes that if only the government were able to teach everyone the "right way" of thinking, everyone will be equally happy.
In reality, the SEL agenda enforces conformity, it invades privacy, and it undermines the influence of family and faith in a child's life. Instead of promoting strong relationships, as SEL proponents claim, the SEL agenda serves more to isolate children through a program of peer-modelled behavior modification that manipulates the human fear of being socially rejected. The SEL model makes almost no mention of the primary mediating institutions that form us as human beings: family, church, and civic institutions. Instead, it pushes conditioned emotional reflexes over open and honest discussion. The result of this misguided philosophy is readily apparent in how many in our society now behave -- in a mush of emotional sensitivities that are easily "triggered" whenever a contrary opinion is encountered.
How can we respond and fight against this "social emotional learning" movement? Morabito suggests that freethinkers should strengthen their support networks and spread awareness through outreach to those who are not informed on the dangers of SEL. As French philosopher and sociologist Jacques Ellul said, "Propaganda ends where simple dialogue begins."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.