Education Week is reporting about technology to be used to teach social-emotional skills. It’s called Social-Emotional Learning–SEL for short.
I find it ironic that at the same time, Florida senators just said no to recess. Are they telling us that computers should be used to teach students how to relate to one another?
Is this the wave of the future? It sounds to me like a futuristic movie with a bad rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yet the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group are plugging measurable competencies and character traits they believe important, and the only way they want you to think children will get these skills is online.
Here is the World Economic Forum’s “New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology”.
The Boston Consulting Group can be found here pushing SEL. “How Education Technology Can Help Foster Social and Emotional Skills.”
Technology “can personalize learning, engage the disengaged, complement what happens in the classroom, extend education outside the classroom, and provide access to learning to students,”
…but “the number of [social-emotional learning] products in the ed-tech market today is insufficient.”
That’s right. They want more ed. tech for social-emotional learning.
Most of us argue that technology cannot take over a classroom, or replace a teacher, especially because of the social interactions that take place there.
While online instruction might provide some learning, mostly rote, children need social-emotional relationships. They need to mingle with other students. That’s hard to do when you are sitting alone at a computer.
Even if a child connects with another child (some aren’t real kids) online, it isn’t the same as a real relationship. The best place for young children to socialize is recess!
We all know that watching children play can tell teachers and parents a lot. By observing social interactions that occur during recess, teachers determine when to intervene, and when to let children work out their problems.
Working out issues is an important socialization skill that is lost when children are micro-managed with harsh discipline, or when they are told about good behavior but not given opportunities to demonstrate it.
For what’s really useful—look at the children themselves and how they play.
For example, in his book Recess: Its Role in Education and Development, Anthony Pellegrini describes rough and tumble play (R&T). This kind of interaction might present itself as aggression, but there are nuanced differences important for teachers to identify.
R&T is typically composed of run, chase, flee, wrestle, and open-hand hit. Aggression is typified by closed-hand hits, shoves, pushes, and kicks. Also a quite simple, yet reliable, way in which R&T and aggression differ is in terms of expression of affect. Generally, smiles (or a play face) accompany R&T, whereas frowns, or crying accompany aggression (p. 101).
Children certainly can learn good behavior by hearing teachers or parents tell them what good behavior is, and they especially learn by modeling adult behavior—as most parents can attest.
But unless they have a chance to practice behavior it’s all for naught! Children learn best by doing, not sitting in front of a computer screen!
Managing social interactions through technology, however, looks to be on the horizon. Fifty-five characteristics have been chosen, like encouraging turn-taking, adopting different perspectives through role-playing, and developing “grit” through rankings and leader boards.
Children are to learn to regulate their emotions through online instruction. And if that’s not scary, there’s this:
… futuristic technologies such as wearable devices that track students’ emotional states and physiological reactions to stress, for example, or virtual reality systems that can simulate physical environments and “foster greater self-awareness and spur creativity,” are also important for “expanding the realm of the possible,” the report says.
What parent needs a tracking device to tell them how much stress their child is experiencing?
Does anyone really believe an online presence from 9 to 5 will help a child learn social skills? Most parents want to limit screen time not expand it!
Along with this, in general, serious questions are being raised as to the harmful effects of too much technology on young children.
Children learn best by doing not viewing.
Herold, Benjamin. “‘Social-Emotional Learning; a Ripe Market for Ed Tech, Report Contends.” Education Week. March 11, 2016.
Pellegrini, Anthony D. Recess: Its Role in Education and Development. (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2005) p. 101.