Marc Brackett never liked school. “I was always bored,” he says, “and I never felt like any of my teachers really cared. I can’t think of anybody that made me feel inspired.”
It’s a surprising complaint coming from a 42-year-old Yale research scientist with a 27-page CV and nearly $4 million in career funding. But Brackett knows that many kids feel the way he does about school, and he wants to do a complete emotional makeover of the nation’s schools.
At a time of contentious debate over how to reform schools to make teachers more effective and students more successful, “social emotional learning” may be a key part of the solution. An outgrowth of the emotional intelligence framework, popularized by Daniel Goleman, SEL teaches children how to identify and manage emotions and interactions. One of the central considerations of an evolved EQ—as proponents call an “emotional quotient”—is promoting empathy, a critical and often neglected quality in our increasingly interconnected, multicultural world.
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