At Teach Different we believe passionately that meaningful learning is impossible unless the socio-emotional needs of students are met. And the best way to meet the SEL needs of students is to challenge them with essential questions and give them a chance to speak their voices inside philosophical conversations.
Let’s see what this looks like. Below are categories of socio-emotional learning outlined in a May 2018 article written by the Room 241 Team at Portland Oregon’s Concordia University. Under each category is a description of how Teach Different’s methodological approach aligns to its recommendation.
Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Examination of life leads to self-awareness, which in turn leads to a positive sense of self. People who are self-aware are great conversation partners because they carry a sense of understanding about who they are, where they stand and what strengths and weaknesses they have.
Controlling emotions is a crucial part of learning. Questions and conversations encourage the management of individual feelings so that the greater good of rational understanding is enjoyed by the group.
Conversations don’t work unless all involved have empathy and care about other people’s perspectives. Being aware of others is hard work. It requires vulnerability, humility and grace, all of which are nurtured by philosophical conversations. In a similar way, essential questions inspire reflection and awareness of self and others.
Working with others who disagree with us is a difficult, yet indispensable skill. A good essential question invites disagreement which, in turn, encourages compromise and understanding. The conversations which flow from such questions then become safe places where conflict can occur within the boundaries of respect and admiration for others. This builds relationship skills over time.
We can’t make good decisions without asking good questions first. Effective questions encourage us to see the many options in a given situation. The conversations that great questions inspire fuel our desire to act morally. That is because they expand our knowledge of what is right and wrong and give us an opportunity to evaluate how we make decisions and pick the ones that are best.
Essential questions and conversations are the lifeblood of socio-emotional learning. Teach Different is committed to nurturing both in a way that gives teachers and students a chance to be heard and a confidence that their voice matters.