~ Tejas Bobe
Social and Emotional Learning is an integral part of personality development. People are defined not by the clothes they wear or their physical appearance, but by the way they behave in society, their words and deeds. A human being without emotions is no more than an inanimate object moving around without thoughts of its own. Our emotions and the ability to react are the characteristics that make us a living being in the true sense. In the same way, our social behaviour distinguishes us as humans from other living beings on this planet.
Why is it important?
Social and emotional learning has always proven to be a key to success in life. Social_skills are primarily developed while in school. Our student life is based on socialising with our peer group, meeting new people in the classroom and interacting with them. It is always said that rather than being good just in academics one should learn to develop social skills. Because in the end, these are the ultimate tools one would need to survive and achieve goals in the real world. We live in an age where the emotional quotient is as important as the intelligence quotient.
A good social and emotional conduct creates a good personality which ultimately leads us a step closer to being a good human being.
It is said that a person’s looks create a good first impression. But, one must never forget that it’s one’s personality that creates an inseparable bond even if the looks fade out eventually. A good personality cannot be gained without social interaction with the people around us, knowing and understanding their emotions.
Teaching social and emotional skills as a part of the curriculum in schools is just as important as physical education. Efforts should be made to include the psychology of learning as an important subject in the curriculum. Psychology of Learning will help the students to understand their behaviour, emotions and ideas.
General perception towards it in India
The harsh reality is that in many parts of India, social and emotional learning is not a topic you could easily discuss with others. We as people are still dominated by the views and actions of the society rather than living symbiotically with society. Not many efforts are being taken by society to understand one’s emotions. Even though it is a sensitive topic, still it isn’t considered important enough to teach the kids since the beginning and hence hasn’t become a part of the curriculum.
Society, in general, is more interested in academics over anything else and as a result, they tend to completely overlook the aspects of social and emotional growth. This eventually leads to adults with great knowledge, incapable of meeting the mental and emotional demands of society and leave their mark. Discussions about mental health are still considered taboo in India, and people are expected to be tough emotionally, overlooking the fact that even mind and emotions can have a toll back.
How to include this in the routine?
One of the ways to tackle this problem is to introduce inclusive education as a part of academics. Inclusive education here stands for a common classroom for all students; irrespective of their differences, disabilities, religion, caste, etc. It will ensure that children are surrounded by diverse people, whom they can freely interact with. Getting to know different people will eliminate the discrimination between the children so that they can freely and comfortably interact with all sorts of people in the future. This is one of the best ways of teaching children social skills.
The problem can also be addressed by the involvement of teachers and parents.
- Parents should try to inculcate social behaviour from childhood and make them aware of social interactions and engage in bettering self-expression.
- Teachers can help in promoting Social and Emotional Learning by carrying out activities that involve the understanding of one’s emotions in a space where students can express their emotions, such as a feelings circle.
- They should also motivate extracurricular activities like debating or sports which develop character and makes socializing an easy and happy process.
Society has started to accept the value of having a stable and balanced social life at the same time not undermining their emotions in the face of their tribulations. We can see a gradual rise in NGOs and other organizations that provide counselling and support to people. Though these still might seem like microscopic steps, no one can overlook the fact that a positive change has begun which will surely lead to a more balanced and happy society.
Our priority should be that more and more people should realize it’s importance, as it will lead to a wide acceptance in society making it the new norm. The day won’t be far when people would talk about their emotions freely and confidently, without feeling insecure.
When students feel safe and supported, they are truly ready and able to learn.
– Laura Weaver & Mark Wilding