Salon and Mashable both complain about how people are ganging up on social-emotional learning, or SEL. It’s really not, no way, like Critical Race Theory at all so why is everyone being so mean? Except it is very much like CRT which is why people are paying attention to it now. It’s not even some vast right-wing conspiracy, it’s parents now knowing what is being taught in schools – and they’re not happy about it.
Salon: “What is ’social-emotional learning’ — and how did it become the right’s new CRT panic? Right-wing culture warriors’ new obsession: Widespread ‘life skills’ approach is actually sinister ‘Trojan horse.’”
Mashable: “Why social-emotional learning for kids is under attack.
“SEL is supposed to help kids thrive. Now it’s become the focus of right-wing outrage,” according to the Mashable piece.
Well, yes, why do we have two articles saying much the same thing? Perhaps because the organization behind SEL thinks it needs a little defending. This is one of those little media secrets, people suggest stories to possibly amenable outlets rather than reporters going out to find them – often enough at least.
So, who are those people behind SEL? That’s CASEL. Yes, you’re right, they are trying to change the education system for the country. They’ve got infographics to add to social media posts, charts to put into presentations and, of course they have, a section devoted to getting laws passed to make sure SEL is taught across states.
As they themselves say, the aim is that this becomes a solid part of all teaching.
“The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning is helping make evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of education from preschool through high school,” CASEL said.
It’s definitively something that is being proposed for all schools, to be enforced by law. Which makes it important to understand what it actually is. Backers claim that it is simply what they say it is – teaching in social and emotional literacy. A little examination shows that it’s much closer to CRT than that.
The worry about CRT is not that it’s some abstruse legal theory used in graduate school. Rather, it is now a major part of the teacher training courses – which are graduate programs – and so all teachers, thus all teaching, are directed by the ideas of CRT.
So it is with SEL. Social literacy isn’t the problem, it’s what comes along with it. Which is a teaching of the standard progressive diagnosis of the world – all that about structural racism, the patriarchy, no doubt that usual knocking of capitalism as well.
It’s necessary to read a little between the lines to see this but it is there: “SEL can be a powerful lever for creating caring, just, inclusive, and healthy schools.”
Well, who can be against justice and inclusion? Except think for a moment what “just” means as a progressive word. For example, it means agreeing with the central concept of CRT, that structural racism defines the United States. It can also often mean agreeing that capitalism is inherently exploitative and has to go. In fact, in only those two words, “just and inclusive” it’s possible to smuggle in just about any societal change and thereby teach it to children. Which is the point here.
“We are driven by a vision of all children and adults as self-aware, caring and connected, responsible, engaged, and lifelong learners who work together to achieve their goals and create a more inclusive, just, and equitable world.”
Those definitions of inclusive, just and equitable aren’t going to include those that many of us hold now, are they? They’re clearly going to be the current progressive ones. This is the entire point of the campaign to get this into every state education system and so on.
Salon gains some 9 million visits a month and is very much more influential in progressive policy circles. Mashable is more mainline and gains some 10 million visits. What matters about these articles is not so much the outlets they appear in but the obvious nature of the concerted campaign. We’ll be seeing more of this as time goes on. SEL is just social-emotional literacy, right? Except it’s not, it’s another cover for insisting that children be taught the standard progressive definitions of just, inclusive and equitable – those definitions the rest of us so disagree with.
It is possible for us to answer the question both articles pose though. That one about why are people complaining now?
The answer is that only now are people realizing what the education system is trying to do to our children. It started with lockdowns and mask mandates and no-school days and so on. Parents became very much more aware of what is actually going on in schools and started to pay a great deal more attention. This is why school board elections are becoming more fissile, why school board meetings are more argumentative.
Parents are finding out what is being taught and not liking it, not in the slightest. Which is the other great similarity between SEL and CRT. Now parents know about it, understand what it is, they don’t want it for their children. So, it shouldn’t be taught, should it? Despite what the progressives and perhaps educational bureaucracy desire.