Learning technique could reduce social stressors

social 2-21


Teachers are searching for a constructive way to emphasize the importance of self-worth within education, and a solution may have been found. 

Faculty at several universities have studied how social and emotional learning techniques can improve students’ attitude and classroom behavior while reducing aggression and stress. 

Youngstown State University will welcome Kimberly Schonert-Reichl to speak about social and emotional learning on Monday.  

The main lecture will take place at 5:30 p.m. in McKay Auditorium, with mini informational sessions Monday at 2 p.m. and Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. 

Schonert-Reichl is an applied developmental psychologist and an associate professor in educational and counseling psychology at the University of British Columbia. 

For more than 20 years, she has worked to identify positive cognitive processes and traits, such as empathy and optimism, in children and adolescents. She is currently examining the effectiveness of social and emotional learning in classrooms. 

Social and emotional learning is comprised of self-awareness, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, self-management and social awareness.

Regina Rees, an assistant professor in teacher education, has worked with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Research; Schonert-Reichl serves on its board.

“We want everyone to know what social and emotional learning is and how it can benefit children and adults,” Rees said. “Research shows that if we can’t know our limitations and get along with others, you can’t get along in society.”

Along with Rees, Dora Bailey, Richard McEwing and Sylvia Imler comprise a team of YSU professors who study social and emotional learning. 

CASEL consultant Patty Horsch works with YSU faculty to enforce this learning technique in the early stages of teaching. 

“We are recognizing now that teachers need to know how to promote this before children enter school,” Horsch said. “It should be part of teacher curriculum and their training.”

McEwing said he is eager to have someone from off campus come in to validate the information he has given in class. He will be taking his class to see Schonert-Reichl with the hope of emphasizing the importance of these lessons in day-to-day life. 

“It all comes down to, ‘If I’m upset about something, do I scream and yell and hit, or do I think about a different way to deal with it?'” McEwing said. “It also connects to how you interact with people.”

Our first response as people, McEwing said, is to “attack, attack, attack,” instead of stressing what a person does right.

Rees said this seminar will not only highlight the positive aspects of children, but it will also provide prospective teachers and others working with children with the tools to manage anger.

“The people who would really be interested are psychology majors, social work majors, and human and ecology majors. Even business majors would enjoy this,” Rees said. 

That includes bullying. Rees said it is imperative that parents and teachers reach a level of understanding with the children they deal with. 

She added that kids won’t be able to learn math and other subjects if they are dealing with these outside stressors. 

“This is something that we all need, and if we start when they’re younger, then they’ll develop those habits, then maybe we won’t have things like road rage and dads shooting laptops,” Rees said in reference to an Internet video of a father shooting his daughter’s laptop after discovering that she insulted him on Facebook.

McEwing said bullying typically relates to self-image, and those who act as the aggressor are unhappy with themselves and are looking to take it out on others.

“I think there is bullying in other venues. I think there are bosses that are bullies that bully their employees and those are always threatening behaviors,” McEwing said. “People want compliance just because they’re in a position of authority.”

Horsch, however, does not tie social and emotional learning specifically to bullying, but said it can help alleviate it. She said the learning style should be used to develop a sense of self-management to realize how goals can be met.

“Learning all of your emotions is very proactive. You do learn to have respect for others and a respect for diversity, develop a sense of empathy and be able to take someone else’s perspective,” Horsch said.

1 comments Anonymous Tue Feb 21 2012 09:23 There are no dates in this article, what monday does this take place so I can attend?