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David Brooks Gets It Wrong Again

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'David Brooks at the Miller Center Forum' photo (c) 2011, Miller Center - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

David Brooks, whose connection to reality magically leaves him just about every time he writes any column with the word “school” in it, did it again today in his latest one.

He begins his column sounding great — about how we’re putting too much weight on school reform to solve the ills facing out young people.

However, he then immediately falls into the trap of saying Social Emotional Learning and training low-income parents to be “average parents” will take care of things.

So forget about wealth inequality and poverty.

He exemplifies the growing danger of some people saying that SEL is the solution, despite the fact that studies show that poverty causes a lack of self-control and perseverance and it’s not the other way around.

He might also want to look at some of the recent research showing that single parents aren’t necessarily the problem he thinks they are….

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

3 Comments

  1. Hello Larry

    You wrote, “He exemplifies the growing danger of some people saying that SEL is the solution, despite the fact that studies show that poverty causes a lack of self-control and perseverance and it’s not the other way around.”

    It’s not THE solution but it’s one of them and it’s better than throwing up our hands and saying it’s poverty and it’s better than not giving kids tools that they can practice to manage their emotions. Poverty does not mean that every student is out of control, but some students learns something about their emotions, the better the chance of their understanding the consequences their emotions bring. I’ve volunteered for four years in a downtown school and those kids are hungry to learn about their thoughts and emotions as much as any rich kid.

    • Mitch,

      I don’t think the alternative is “throwing up our hands.” The alternative is recognizing that it’s important to teach SEL skills in a positive way and understand that it will not solve all, or even most, of the challenges our students face. You might be interested in reading my piece in The Washington Post today on the limitations of SEL.

      Larry

  2. Completely agree with that, Larry. My only concern is that the opponents of change, those committed to testing knowledge alone and for private industry vying for education funding, and view SEL as unimportant, will use “poverty” as an excuse for inaction in the education arena.

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