Tuesday, November 8, 2011

RULER Returns Love to Learning

Dowser, my first stop for inspirational reporting on remarkable programs for the public good, recently posted a gem on 'Social Emotional Learning.' It highlights the RULER training program, created at Yale in 2005, which instructs teachers in how to bring empathy, self-awareness, and social literacy into their classrooms.

Today, RULER is practiced in hundreds of classrooms around the country with significant results: research indicates that the average student in a RULER-enriched classroom has 11 percent better grades and 17 percent fewer problems in school. One of public education's greatest responsibilities is to instill civic virtues and social skills in children.

While I never took a class called character education, everyone experiences social priming. Some signals are healthier than others. Parents and teachers alike can abuse the trust of children and students if they don’t appreciate the impact of their behavior. Inconsistent discipline, emotional aloofness, and an unwillingness to listen and understand children’s perspectives can all take a toll on the outlook and prospects for a developing personality.

I’m grateful for programs like RULER and the Harlem Children’s Zone. Parents and teachers both bear substantial responsibility for the welfare of their young charges and neither act in a vacuum. Learning about emotional development and social maturation will play a large role in the future prosperity and happiness of our society.

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