This month, the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released a consensus statement after an in-depth study of social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom. The forward to the study states that "the 28- member Council of Distinguished Scientists actively collaborated on and unanimously endorses The Evidence Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students' Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. These consensus statements of evidence—drawing from brain science, medicine, economics, psychology, and education research... affirm and explain that social, emotional, and cognitive domains are interconnected in the learning process."
While the idea that SEL and the formation of a strong school community promotes academic achievement is not news to us as educators and parents, this study is the first of its kind to bring together a wide array of scientists working towards a single goal. Research participants included such luminaries as Mary Helen Immordino-Yang (neuroscience), Marc Brackett (SEL research), Maurice Elias (character education), Oscar Barbarin (equity research), and Tim Shriver (Special Olympics and co-founder for the Center for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning).
Rather than view SEL as a programmatic "add on" if time permits, the Council insists that cognitive functioning, academic learning, and social-emotional skills must be integrated for authentic and lasting learning to take place in all children. Students are incapable of embracing academic rigor without having their social and emotional needs met first. In the words of Dr. Brackett from Yale University, "Learning is social and emotional."
At NPS, we focus on social, emotional, and academic development through play in the pre-primary years as students navigate relationships, experiment with cause and effect, and ask questions constantly all under the guidance of experienced educators. In the primary years, social, emotional, and academic development are intertwined in the curriculum through lessons across multiple subjects addressing identity and empathy, and moral development, imagination and courage.
Again, NPS teachers recognize that feeling safe and valued in the classroom is necessary for all children before they share their thoughts with a large group, or before they begin an assessment, or before they tackle a complex project with multi-step directions. As scientists now concur that understanding social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD) is the key to creating the schools of the future, NPS remains confident that we are the school of both today, and tomorrow.
If you have any questions about the study or about the NPS curriculum in general, please contact Director of Studies Tara Montague.