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What ‘Scarcity’ Does To The Mind & Why Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough

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I’m a big advocate of Social Emotional Learning (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), but I’m also concerned about it being “over-sold” and used to short-circuit needed policy changes.

I’ve written about those concerns in my Washington Post piece, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

I’ve also shared many pieces on those concerns at The Best Resources Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough.

Among those articles are several talking about some specific research finding that poverty causes a lack of self-control and perseverance and it’s not the other way around. In other words, we have just a certain amount of “cognitive bandwidth” which can be overwhelmed by worry and concern related to “scarcity.”

Today, NPR did an interview with one of the authors of that study, and you can read and listen to it at How The ‘Scarcity Mindset’ Can Make Problems Worse.

Here’s an excerpt:

Another quote from the piece – this one from the NPR host – says:

To be clear, it’s not that poor people focus on immediate needs because that’s all they want to think about. It’s all they can think about. Scarcity captures the mind. In fact, the tunnel vision produced by scarcity can actually lower how you perform on an IQ test.

As I’ve said before, SEL has its place, but it also has to be kept in its place. Yes, we should help our students develop self-regulation skills. But we should also organize for better public policies that can Outside Of School Factors That Impact  Student Achievement.

And, of course, want to help equip students with the skills so that they can also effectively advocate for themselves.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

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