Just a few weeks ago Rick Hess wrote a piece complaining that advocates for social emotional learning seem to be suppporting a wide range of things, to the point where it is unclear what the phrase even means.

A widely-shared New York Times piece about sticking with New Years resolutions suggests that some in the social emotional learning camp who have been busying themselves with trying to foster “grit” by teaching self-control may have been focusing on the wrong thing.

David DeSteno writes:

this view of self-control is wrong. In choosing to rely on rational analysis and willpower to stick to our goals, we’re disadvantaging ourselves. We’re using tools that aren’t only weak; they’re also potentially harmful.

Research conducted by DeSteno and others suggests that cultivating emotions like gratitude and compassion could be a better way to boost perseverance than focusing directly on self-control.

For an earlier look at some different ideas on this topic, you can listen to Marty West’s interview with Paul Tough about what parents and teachers can do to foster noncognitive skills.

— Education Next

Last updated January 2, 2018