She stated in one of the bullet points of her slides of how building social emotional learning supports academic learning. I think there are very few people who would disagree with this, though it is true that many teachers feel unequipped for, resentful toward, or object to being expected to deal with this aspect of teaching. However, what I notice here, is that often as educators we feel the need to defend anything we do in schools not as valuable for itself, but for how it will help raise test scores, or at least help academically. I have seen this in defense of the arts, in defense of physical education, in defense of good nutrition, etc.
As the author of Emotional Intelligence demonstrated fairly convincingly, to get ahead in most occupations takes emotional intelligence at least as much as it took academic smarts (according to the web site EQ accounts for 58% of your job performance, though I have no idea how one would quantify that). I would argue that this is at least as true in civic life. Political and social change happens when people work together for such change. Not to mention the importance of getting along with our neighbors, our families, etc.
Now, since my assumption is that the purpose of public schools is to serve the larger public—that is not just to help the individual become smarter and more marketable, but to be the place where society educates the next generation into the knowledge and values that are required to sustain and maintain itself. In the case of our country, I see that as helping create a democratic citizenry of a pluralistic society.
This leads me to challenge what we just take for granted—what is the purpose of schools. Most of use rarely think deeply about this question, and assume it is self evident—and that it is primarily “academic.”
But how about this thought experiment; What if we turned this on its head? What if we thought the primary responsibility of schools was to get a citizenry that has a strong social/emotional education? That our schools’ responsibility was to have graduates that had a strong sense of self-knowledge, that are good at managing their own emotions? Graduates that know how to be empathetic, that know how to effectively work with others, and be sensitive to others. Academics, P.E., the Arts, Nutrition, etc., might be seen as instrumental to living an emotionally and socially satisfying life and to contributing to the social and emotional health of the larger society. Just a thought.