Being able to recall facts may help you look good in front of your friends during trivia night, but memorizing content of the past has become largely irrelevant in today’s modern society. When it comes to education, the undeniable truth of the testing culture from the past 20 years is that children arrive to the working world woefully unprepared to deal with interpersonal relationships or even the ability to work in teams. This has as much to do with poor academic skills gained as it has to do with the lack of acquiring and developing basic social and emotional skills associated with positive human relationships. The hue and cry of the media announcing the demise of public education begs the question: What is the best solution for helping students prepare for the 21st-century workforce?
For a growing number of schools and districts, introducing social-emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom in the context of 21st-century learning is the answer.
SEL skills and competencies, as defined by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making—all of the valuable soft skills important for lifelong success. The challenge is how to do this in an engaging and relevant manner.
For many, integrating curriculum around coding and programming to learn the “language” of technology while practicing the language of SEL has been the answer. A course previously taught only in college quickly trickled down to classes in high school. Now, even elementary and preschools are incorporating some level of coding into their agenda, demonstrating how young children are capable of developing an understanding of basic coding concepts.