Social emotional learning (SEL) is being attacked in Indiana. Specific reasons are rarely identified. Some folks suggest that such learning is the sole domain of the family and that SEL programming represents overreach by the schools. Others accuse teachers of trying to be therapists or ignoring academics. These claims, as my late grandmother would say, are just a lot of “hooey.”

From the beginnings of time, teachers in schools have played a significant role in the social and emotional development of young people – and you know why? Because teaching and learning is a social activity. Because self-awareness (knowing what you know and what you don’t) and the ability to regulate one’s mind and mental state are essential to all learning. All functioning is dependent on one’s brain state.

Sandy Washburn is a research scholar at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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