Here we go again.
Eight states are going to launch a program for social and emotional learning in their classrooms. A collaborative group has been put together to craft the whole business. I'm going to get in early here with a prediction that nothing good will come of this.
I understand the impulse. On top of the usual rantings about Kids These Days, we see the references to research that today's students are more self-centered, less empathetic. A big story in the Atlantic just last month questioned if increased concern about academics have pushed morality and empathy out of classrooms. And every classroom teacher can tell tales of students who are stunningly, sometimes terrifyingly, lacking in socially and emotionally adrift or broken.
And we know that employers, neighbors, co-workers, friends and family put a huge value on social and emotional factors. When we're trying to sound all edu-sciency and professional, we call this stuff "non-cognitive skills," but civilians more commonly refer to behaving like "a decent human being" or at least "not such an asshole."
So there's absolutely no question that these things are important. I would even argue that it's impossible NOT to teach them in some way shape and form in your classroom. It's a group of humans, so intentionally or not, consciously or not, you (and your students) are modelling various social behaviors and skills.
However, absolutely none of the above means that what we need is a set of Decent Human Being Standards that are a subject of both instruction and assessment.
The problems with doing so are like the problems with coming up with a standardized description of an educated person, only a thousand times more so. That is self-evident in the culture right this minute-- we cannot agree whether Donald Trump is a huge asshole and a terrible person, or the CURMUDGUCATION: Standardized Character: