Monday, December 03, 2018

Deborah Rivas-Drake co-writes a CASEL brief on equity and social and emotional learning


Professor Deborah Rivas-Drake co-wrote a brief titled Equity & Social and Emotional Learning: A Cultural Analysis for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Her co-authors included former SOE faculty member Robert J. Jagers of CASEL and Teresa Borowski of The University of Illinois Chicago. The brief represents their initial efforts to analyze, revise, and supplement what is known about social and emotional learning (SEL) to foster the development of citizens who contribute to an increasingly interconnected, diverse global community.

SEL refers to a process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions. The team of co-authors note that social and emotional development (SE) should be understood as a complex, dynamic, ongoing, and culturally-adaptive process. Individuals learn to socialize and express themselves in a way that is appropriate to the community in which they were raised. For this reason, the authors recommend that SEL strategies must be responsive to, rather than blunt, these assets and experiences.

They add that building stronger SE competencies in schools starts with teacher and leader reflection. Without careful consideration, educators might operationalize SEL as a means to “fix” students rather than help them grow and thrive as unique individuals. Striving for educational equity, says the authors, challenges us to examine biases and interrupt inequitable practices so we can create inclusive, multicultural school environments that cultivate the interests and talents of children, youth, and adults from diverse backgrounds.

The team recommends that communal values and a positive ethnic-racial identity be included as key components of self-awareness, particularly for marginalized youth whose culture and ethnic/racial group membership has been disparaged historically or is currently diminished within mainstream cultural institutions, such as schools. Supporting the development of these assets should buffer children and youth from the negative impacts of internalized, interpersonal, and institutional oppression and provide pathways for constructive, collective responses. Further, all youth should be cognizant of the cultural features and power dynamics of interactions and contexts that include peers and adults from diverse ethnic/racial and economic backgrounds. This, they reveal, would allow them to appropriately deploy interpersonal skills and abilities to advance collective well-being.

The full brief is here:

The summary brief is here:

Deborah Rivas-Drake is Professor, School of Education; Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

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