Social-Emotional Learning needs to focus more on students

Alex Durham, Comment Assistant Managing Editor

When I walked into advisement and Mr. Herrera told me the class would be starting the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program, I was both frustrated and curious. Frustrated because I had calculus homework to finish, but curious because I had heard so much about this new program. I sat down, ready to learn about my emotions. However, when Mr. Herrera handed out a thick packet and opened a powerpoint, the only emotion I felt was frustration.

From a holistic view, SEL is a brilliant idea. It targets students who are less inclined to think about their future and intends provide them with the opportunity to discuss life after high school. It also puts them in a room with other students who are in a similar situation, whether that be economic or social, creating an environment where they can feel more relaxed and willing to put serious thought into what they are going through.

That, however, is only the intention. Not the reality.

Grady has taken this strong idea and replaced it with a program that places kids back into a bland classroom setting. Instead of engaging in personal and meaningful discussion, students are held at an arm’s length by thick packets of asinine worksheets and a powerpoint boring enough to make even the most astute student groan and put their head down in frustration. The worksheets ask students to answer bellringer questions, identify different parts of the brain, and respond to questions posed in small video clips in the powerpoints. And, as it is administered by the school, students are required to fill out the packets.

On top of these worksheets, the advisement class rosters were not crafted to group together students in similar situations, but rather by alphabetical order. This defeats what I view as one of the main purposes of implementing the program. By doing this, the administrators have ruined the balanced environment that comes naturally when students of similar background are put together. Instead of students’ mindsets focused on their classmates and themselves, a thick cloud of indifference wafts through every classroom.

Overall, I was disappointed. While I was not expecting to benefit from the program myself, I thought the overall idea was well founded. However, the shoveling of packets and powerpoints at students needs to stop. SEL should be a program founded on communication and student initiative. A program that truly lets students voice their opinions rather than write them on a piece of paper.

I understand that the program is in its earliest stages and there are still kinks to work out, but I couldn’t help but feel betrayed when it started like some Emotion 101 lecture class. I hope Grady realizes the potential this program has, and really gives students the opportunity to help their futures.