Calls for schools to pay heed to children’s social and emotional learning have proliferated in recent years. Is the current enthusiasm for educating the “whole learner” a much-needed correction to the narrow concentration on academic skills in the modern reform era? Or is it a misguided retreat from academic rigor and an attempt to sidestep demands to hold schools accountable?
In this forum, Robert Balfanz, research professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, argues that learning science favors an approach to schooling that addresses all aspects of development—social, emotional, and academic. In the companion essay, Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, nonresident fellow at the Urban Institute and professor emeritus of psychology and pediatrics at Stony Brook University, maintains that the current approach to social and emotional learning is misguided, and that the evidence does not support the claims.