Social Emotional Learning: helpful or unnecessary?


Chitkala Alli

Sarah Cameron (10) does SEL during fifth period choir class. SEL is a program recently adopted by SCS schools to help students with social emotional leaning skills.

Social Emotional Learning or “SEL” helps students learn life skills that are important to know in social situations. For example, SEL teaches students how to deal with their own feelings, how to work in a group and even has the potential to increase a student’s self esteem and confidence. Recently, SCS has introduced SEL time to be incorporated into students’ fifth period classes. 

“In my class, my teachers play the lesson videos and we go over the activities and questions, but they let us go into more detail and have extensive conversations about what we’ve covered that day,” Sarah Cameron (10) said. “It really helps that they listen to what we as students have to say about these topics. Even if we get off topic or go a little further into the topic than expected, they still let us voice our opinions and experiences which definitely helps us understand each other better and grow as people.” 

There are many benefits to incorporating SEL time in a student’s long day of classes. For example, every White Station student has faced the wrath of online school for at least a full semester, therefore, these lessons are a good reinforcement on quick social cues and tips that seem basic but are easy to forget after a long period of isolation from the pandemic. In addition, it serves as a nice middle-of-the-day break for students to relax and focus on something easy. 

“It has been helpful, especially after what the last year and a half has been like. I definitely lost the ability to socialize with people that I don’t text or hang out with regularly, and during the past 18 months or so I wasn’t even supposed to really hang out with those people until recently,” Cameron said. “I do feel like it has been helpful in the social aspect, but I haven’t seen any emotional learning yet.” 

Some students unfortunately do not have such a positive outlook on this new SEL learning time. For example, some teachers allow students to do SEL individually, therefore, some students fail to take it seriously into account. Another aspect is that SEL should focus on teaching students mental health and give tips on how students can take care of themselves through challenging times, instead of just what to do in certain social situations. 

“Most of my assignments so far have just been telling me not to bully other students and to just to make good decisions,” Dane Perugini (12) said. “None of the assignments actually tackle mental health issues that are common in our age group. The school implemented this to try to get their students to ‘think positively’ and improve their mental health, but they didn’t make any changes within the school itself.”

Instead of just focusing on social skills, students suggest schools should focus on teaching students about mental health. Mental health has become increasingly important and is now constantly talked about in the news and everyday life. Therefore, it makes sense for schools to teach their students how to deal with it.

“I’m sure it can be helpful to some people. However I think our school is using SEL as a cop-out for actually helping their students and making mental health resources more accessible.The school implemented this to try to get their students to ‘think positively’ and improve their mental health, but they don’t make any changes within the school itself,” Perugini said.