Education » Overview

Education and labor issues have featured as topics for discussion in our program portfolio since the 1950s. Recognizing that the way we learn and the future of work will change beyond recognition in coming decades, Salzburg Global Seminar is scaling up its commitment to explore these topics through a multi-year program on Education for Tomorrow’s World.

New technologies are taking us faster towards a post-industrial world, even in emerging and least-developed economies. Current teaching systems and metrics are being called into question. Young people, in particular, urgently need skills and support networks to realize their potential and forge individualized pathways for learning and work. Special attention needs to be paid to neglected talent, especially among marginalized groups, exploring how best to identify and nurture this otherwise wasted potential.

Relearning learning is critical to energize truly entrepreneurial societies. This will go far beyond education ministries to involve innovators, neuroscientists, data analysts and students themselves. As well as critically engaging with the ‘supply side’ of education, we must review the “demand side” – how to meet immediate needs to fill current jobs, identify new talents suited to new jobs, and promote access and diversity in a rapidly changing labor market.  

This program, launched in 2015, directly supports action to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (particularly Goal 4). It is a key component of Salzburg Global’s Human Transformation axis for 2016-2020, which recognizes that the digital and life sciences revolutions are radically changing assumptions and systems around education, jobs, families, health and ethics. Managing for change requires personal and organizational resilience, and for new technologies to be rooted in deep understanding of human needs and wants. 

To view related sessions, click here.


Getting Smart – Day 4 – “Make schools great again!”
Getting Smart – Day 4 – “Make schools great again!”
Louise Hallman 
To promote social and emotional learning in schools, it is vital to secure the support of a wide variety of stakeholders from parents to policymakers – but how? On the fourth day of Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills, in an effort to test their arguments and rhetorical skills, participants took part in a mock debate and prepared a mock memo to a so-far-unconvinced Minister of Education. Those working to promote social and emotional learning (SEL) often face arguments against implementing SEL programs. Such arguments include:
  • “We’ve lost discipline and order! Children need to know their place... Life is tough, not ‘fun’ or ‘soft.’ Students need to be ready for that and have hard skills – not soft.” 
  • “Social and emotional learning programs are an invasion into our private lives. The moral education of our children is the responsibility and choice of parents, as well as churches and communities – not schools. Entrusting our children’s SEL development to schools makes them too powerful, and minimizes role of wider community.” 
  • “Data collection of personality tests leads to profiling! And these tests can faked or manipulated.”
  • “Social and emotional learning programs are promoting a liberal, globalized agenda, and trying to universalize morals and values.” 
  • “Schools are for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic; SEL programs take valuable time away from this.”
Knowing what reasoning can counter these arguments – and which messages resonate with different audiences – would help significantly advance SEL in schools, homes and the wider community.  When dealing with politicians, key points to keep in mind are that the Minister of Education may not have much of a background in education (beyond their own personal experience many years ago) and politicians can often be short-sighted and more focused on their re-election than long-term change. Developing programs than can be easily explained and communicated to a wider public and offer some immediate evidence of improvement – while appealing to their ego and legacy! – might persuade skeptical ministers. Download the full newsletter from Day 4
The Salzburg Global Session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills is part of the Salzburg Global series Education for Tomorrow's World, hosted partnership with ETS. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/566 
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Ayelet Giladi - SEL is important for everyone, from children and parents, to soldiers and refugees
Ayelet Giladi at Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills
Ayelet Giladi - SEL is important for everyone, from children and parents, to soldiers and refugees
Chris Hamill-Stewart 

 
Much of the discussions at the session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills has centered on the importance of the education system in delivering social and emotional learning, but for Ayelet Giladi, manager of Early Childhood programs at the Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it is just as important to engage families.

Many participants in the session have diverse and dynamic backgrounds, but few can boast a story like Giladi’s. From joining the Israeli Army as a commander at eighteen, becoming a Hebrew teacher for soldiers who struggle with language, to now, where she uses Social and Emotional (SEL) skills to combat child abuse and to help families across the social, religious and cultural boundaries in Israel and beyond, Giladi has not had a conventional career path.

Her time in the army was formative; Giladi commanded a unit of soldiers with little writing or reading ability, and she taught them Hebrew. She says she found herself “using a lot of social and emotional skills that I didn’t know I had in the army.” Soldiers often did not want to be there, and they did not want to take part in lessons. Sometimes they threw chairs at her.

“It was their way of expressing themselves, but being an 18-year-old girl, trying to control 20-year-old, big and masculine men. It took a lot of skills,” Giladi recalls.

She believes experiences like this were important in her own personal development. They opened her eyes to how much influence she could have in other people’s lives by using SEL skills.

Giladi’s experience in the army, akin to a trial by fire in terms of teaching and using SEL, meant she transitioned well into her work using these same skills to work with parents of young children in Israel. She works with families “at risk” – those with children who may not have adequate early life upbringing – to give parents the tools to help their children, and give them the early-life SEL skills they need to reach the first grade.

Giladi works with a diverse group of families – Arabs, Jews, Druze and Bedouins, and many religious or Orthodox families. Helping such diverse groups bring challenges. For example, “Orthodox families could have ten or twelve children, which means they might not all get the attention they need,” and she works with some mothers from the Muslim community who were married very young.

“Mothers aged 14-16 don’t know themselves so well, let alone how to be a mother,” explains Giladi.
One way of helping is to guide “mothers and fathers.” by teaching them how important it is to “speak to babies as soon as they can – to play with them, take them out, be with them in the house, rather than just in front of the TV.” This fosters SEL development and it helps prepare the children for relationships with other people in their future.

While her work is primarily focused in Hebrew-speaking Israel, Giladi emphasizes how important it is that her programs are taught in Arabic. With so many Arabic-speaking refugees currently seeking safety in countries across Europe, she believes that the work she does is a gateway to helping them and their host countries. “When you give refugees, who are staying in an unknown country, tools in their own language, you can connect them with the country... If you help them like this, they will appreciate what the country is doing for them.” It approach will help the children, and make the families feel welcome, and want to contribute even more to their new communities and countries.

Giladi’s inspirational experiences taught her that “empathy is very important in the teaching of SEL skills, and it’s an important SEL trait to have.” Having empathy for the most vulnerable people – refugees, young mothers and poor families who lack the privilege of a good education – and coming to their aid “helps the individual, helps the families, and it helps the communities.”
Ayelet Giladi was a participant in the Salzburg Global Session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills part of the Salzburg Global series Education for Tomorrow's World, hosted partnership with ETS. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/566.You can follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag: #SGSedu
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Should SEL be measured and assessed? If so, how?
Should SEL be measured and assessed? If so, how?
Should SEL be measured and assessed? If so, how?
Yeji Park 

“‘What is measured is treasured.’ That’s a very fine saying. It is treasured by policymakers and key stakeholders, and you have to assume that it has to be measured. It’s possible to measure using a combination of approaches: self-report, forced choice, and situational judgment test. If you use these three and triangulate across them, then you will be able to get rid of all the problems that would occur when you only use one of these approaches.”
Richard D. Roberts
Vice President and Chief Scientist, Professional Examination Service’s Center for Innovative Assessments, Australia
 
“The purpose of assessment needs to be clearly defined first. If it is simply to evaluate social and emotional skills of students, I don’t think it’s very meaningful. If we try to bring out educational effects through transforming evaluation methods, it could impede the original goal of furthering SEL development as students tend to focus on achieving a better score in the new evaluation system. We could learn much more if we discuss how we can develop more efficient ways to improve social and emotional learning through the assessment process.”
Chanpil Jung
Secretary General and Founder, Future Class Network, Republic of Korea
 
“To find more practical, relevant and simple ways of measurement – that is part of the reason why I came to this seminar. For our project in Bangladesh, we try to encompass both qualitative and quantitative measurement. Along with qualitative research methods such as class observation, focus group discussion, and in-depth interview, we use Ages & Stages Questionnaires that have been specially adapted for the Bangladeshi context. Though the method might differ from countries, I think we still need a global standard for the assessment.”
Sakila Yesmin
Research Associate, BRAC Institute of Educational Development, Bangladesh
 
“I think social and emotional learning should be measured to make sure that students are not only learning traditional competencies, such as math or literacy, but that they are educated more broadly to become a productive member of society and good citizens. I’m not sure if we should measure them in the high-stake assessments like other areas, as they are different, but we should definitely monitor if some specific programs are having an impact on their mission of developing these competencies.”
Elana Arias Ortiz
Education Senior Associate, Inter-American Development Bank, Costa Rica
 
 
Have an opinion? Tweet @SalzburgGlobal using the hashtag #SGSedu

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Getting Smart – Day 3 – Measuring Social and Emotional Learning
Richard Roberts, Tatiana Filgueiras and Meesook Kim
Getting Smart – Day 3 – Measuring Social and Emotional Learning
Louise Hallman 
If “what is measured is treasured” is true, then how should we measure social and emotional (SEL) skills? This was the main question for the third day of the Salzburg Global Seminar session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Learning The “Big Five” personality traits (openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) are often used as a framework for SEL assessments, with labels changed depending on for whom the tests are being conducted, e.g. “agreeableness” can be re-framed as “cooperativeness” in a workplace test. Another panelist labeled them as “self-management, relationship with others, agreeableness, emotional resilience and openness.” These different terms for similar traits can cause confusion. “We suffer from a ‘jingle jangle’ fallacy,” remarked on panelist, however, standardization of terminology remains unlikely given the differing priorities of the different stakeholders.

Many tools for assessing SEL skills, such as personality inventories, rely on self-reporting, asking the person tested to rate themselves and their skills. However this can lead to concerns of “fakeability,” especially if the tests become more high-stakes. The higher the stakes, the more likely the test-taker will alter their answers to fit what they perceive to be the “correct” answer desired by the test-givers.

Different assessment designs, such as “forced choice” assessments (asking the test-taker which of several traits is most or least like them) can lead to a more precise measurement and more comparable data.

Combining this self-reporting data with results from other tests, such as ratings completed by teachers and parents, can lead to even more precise measurements.

Testing children in isolation, however, can reduce the opportunity to evaluate the “social” side of SEL; combining teachers’ observations can provide further precision than ratings alone.

Data from ratings and observations can then be combined further with other datasets, enabling insights to be drawn on how students’ performance in SEL assessments correlates to their academic performance or potential for criminal behavior, for instance.

Successful, insightful and actionable measurements require buy-in from multiple stakeholders, from students and teachers to parents and policymakers. However, these different stakeholders buy-in at different speeds, and efforts to accept and adopt SEL – and the measurement thereof – needs to accommodate this.

Practical Proposals

If we are to scale-up the implemen­tation of social and emotional learning programs, what practical tools do we need?

Following inputs from the expert-led panels and table discussions on Day 3 of Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills, Fellows made the following proposals:
  • Create a SEL “micro-credential” for teachers;
  • Make use of online interactive experiences such as Second Life to offer more SEL opportunities in schools with fewer resources;
  • Establish a global community of learning and practice dedicated to SEL;
  • Develop performance tasks for primary and early years’ SEL skills development;
  • Create “good parent” badges and guides for parents to help them nurture their children’s SEL development in the home/outside of school;
  • Start SEL in early years education to increase the benefits in later years;
  • Better communicate the value of SEL programs to policymakers, teachers, and the global community.
 Download the newsletter from Day 3
The Salzburg Global Session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills is part of the Salzburg Global series Education for Tomorrow's World, hosted partnership with ETS. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/566 You can follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag: #SGSedu
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Who should take the lead and be responsible for children's SEL development?
Who should take the lead and be responsible for children's SEL development?
Yeji Park 
“We have to move from a position where SEL development is seen as a responsibility of the individual teacher in teaching it, to the responsibility of the whole school, in partnership with the parents of the children at the school and also the community around the school – because children are social beings, and social learning takes place in all of those contexts, not just the school context.”
Graham Robb
Chair, Trustees of the Campus School, UK
 
“Society and state should be responsible for promoting and making it possible for SEL to be accessible in families, schools, communities, and also services – for example, in rehabilitation centers for substance users or in prisons. I think the state should take responsibility for making this accessible and available, but then, it should be done in partnership with all the stakeholders involved, especially with kids as well.”
Carmel Cefai
Director, Center for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health at the University of Malta, Malta
 
 “The development of SEL starts pretty much from the time you were born. A lot of that happens intuitively – the conditions at home drive a lot of that development. But the key is how you nurture that once you go into formal education. That’s the challenge. And that’s where we need a really good and informed group of people to nurture the development, so that it becomes complete..”
Baldev Singh
Director of Education, Imagine Education, UK
 
“I don’t think any one person or group is responsible. I think there are a lot of people who need to take part in it. Parents, teachers, family members, people in the community, and we also need to make sure that our policy makers and government officials are thinking about it, even though they might not have a direct influence on children.”
Catherine Millett
Senior Research Scientist, Policy Evaluation and Research Center, ETS, USA
 
“If we take everything into account, there are a lot of partners that are connected to child development. SEL development can start with parents, educators or people in the community. We need to ask parents to understand the meaning of child development in their social and emotional skills, and give them tools to do it in at home and outside of the school. It’s also important to use a lot of professional bodies, such as NGOs, that will bring their knowledge into the school and help them achieve their goal.”
Ayelet Giladi
General and Academic Manager,
NCIW Research Institute for Innovation in Education, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

 
“It depends on the time and dimension of development. Before the children enter primary school, their family plays the main role in SEL development. However, once their formal education begins, school environments have a greater impact on it. It also depends on the aspects of development we are looking at. For example, children’s home environment affects the development of emotional stability, while their school environment has a greater impact on the development of morality.”
Meesook Kim
Senior Research Fellow, Korean Educational Development Institute, Republic of Korea Have an opinion? Tweet @SalzburgGlobal using the hashtag #SGSedu
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Getting Smart – Day 2 – Advancing Social and Emotional Learning
Getting Smart - Day 2
Getting Smart – Day 2 – Advancing Social and Emotional Learning
Louise Hallman 

The past, present and future for social and emotional learning

Has social and emotional learning (SEL) been overlooked in the past? What place does it have on curricula at present? And what greater importance might SEL have in the future?  These were just some of the questions facing the opening panel on the first full day of the Salzburg Global session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills. Bringing perspectives from the UK, Costa Rica, Slovakia and Korea and from across sectors including the media, public policy and research, opinions varied greatly.

While the formal categorization of SEL might be recent, skills such as grit, resilience, communication, and empathy have long been present in schools’ curricula, argued one Fellow. These skills used to be developed through participation in the arts and music. However, these subjects are being squeezed out and sacrificed in place of greater emphasis on more “valued” subjects such as math, science and literary. “We’re removing the ‘joy of learning,’” warned one Fellow. “You can teach a child to recite a poem but that won’t give them empathy.”

The social aspect of SEL should also not be overlooked, pointed out another Fellow; the whole school environment is a vital component in nurturing SEL, with the principal especially important in establishing a school’s ethos.

The importance of the more cognitive skills-based subjects has partly been driven by the importance of their assessment and the subsequent rankings of schools and whole countries’ education systems in various national and international league tables. This has led to the proposal that perhaps SEL would be taken more seriously if it were quantified, tested and measured. Whether SEL can – and indeed should – be tested is still very much the subject of heated debate, as was seen in Salzburg.

While the assessment of SEL would likely help raise its profile and perceived value, it could also lead to a narrowing of skills or a universal understanding and expectation of students’ “soft skills” regardless of cultural or country context. 

It must also be recognized that assessment is not the only motivation for teachers (or students). As one Fellow remarked, the ultimate goal is not to quantify and measure SEL but to nurture these skills. What other alternative incentives should be considered and adopted? “Do we teach it for the sake of teaching or teach because it can be measured?”

What evidence do we have and what do we need to promote SEL?

The day’s second panel considered “How do we ‘make the case’ for social and emotional learning (SEL)?” Positive attitudes and behaviors towards self, school and society are developed through SEL. Research has shown that students who took part in controlled SEL programs saw improved classroom behavior, had better self-esteem and management of their of stress, and fewer instances of depression. Evidence increasingly shows the importance of social and emotional learning and its impact on other, cognitive skills – or as a discussant on the second panel put it: “If we invest in the heart, that will help the head.”

Researchers also expect that future employers will put greater emphasis on “human” skills such as communication, collaboration and creativity as we enter the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” making SEL vital for success in the workplace of tomorrow as well as the classroom of today.

Yet ambivalence towards SEL remains with some parents, educators, policymakers, and students questioning how much, if any, time it should be given in the curriculum. There is also a persistent ignorance about where SEL skills are most needed and valuable. SEL is not just necessary in schools – these skills must be practiced elsewhere also, and used throughout a person’s life, not just their education. How can we produce better evidence to support stronger arguments for the promotion and nurture of SEL? Hundreds of SEL programs are currently being studied, but it is not enough to know if SEL programs work, but how, why and for whom as different results can be found in different contexts. Why is it that students who took part in a music-led SEL program exhibited greater empathy than those in the control drama-led SEL program? SEL programs alone do not see positive effects – they need to be well-planned, well-taught, and well-implemented.Research has also shown that SEL programs are more effective when they are integrated in to the general curriculum and taught by classroom teachers rather than external experts. While they benefit hugely from such programs, adolescents often find it hard to engage in top-down SEL programs; educators need to engage them in both the program design and implementation.Evidence to support SEL can be found an built upon from many sectors beyond just education: much can be learned from studies focusing on neuroscience, psychology, health and economics, such as the impact of SEL on physical as well as mental health (mindfulness reduces heart pressure) and how cost effective this can be for society-at-large.Responsibility for building this evidence base lies not only with policymakers and researchers, but also NGOs, teachers and parents. These adults too need to have their SEL developed. 

Music and PTSD as a case study

The arts can play a huge role in enhancing and nurturing SEL, none more so than music. Neuroscience show that music activates all four parts of the brain: the frontal lobe that controls behavior and emotions; the parietal lobe that integrates sensory and visual information; the temporal lobe that processes language and stores long-term memories; and the occipital lobe, home to the visual cortex.It is partly for this reason that music has been used in helping war veterans with PTSD. Working together with gold-selling and Grammy Award-winning songwriters, US veterans taking part in the “Songwriting with Soldiers” initiative draw on their experiences in war and the difficulties of returning home to produce not just music but songs with powerful lyrics. Every time a person remembers an incident it moves from long-term memory to working memory. The process of recalling troubling memories and traumatic experiences and turning them into songs enables the PTSD-suffering soldiers to change how they remember such experiences. “Songwriting is a unique way of encoding a memory,” explains neuroscientist, musician and law school dean Harry Ballan. Music therapy has been shown to be beneficial in other areas. Research has shown some non-verbal autistic children can become verbal through musical exercises that help expand parts of the brain. If music is to be adopted into SEL programs, it is important to recognize that creation holds more benefits than appreciation. Even just six weeks of piano lessons has greater cognitive benefits than attending weekly music concerts throughout a lifetime. Download the newsletter from Day 2
The Salzburg Global Session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills is part of the Salzburg Global series Education for Tomorrow's World, hosted partnership with ETS. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/566 You can follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag: #SGSedu
READ MORE...
Graham Robb – “You’re giving a language to children to think about constructive ways to manage their conflicts or turmoil.”
Graham Robb at Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills
Graham Robb – “You’re giving a language to children to think about constructive ways to manage their conflicts or turmoil.”
Chris Hamill-Stewart 
In the UK, racism and extremism are on the rise. Hate crimes have increased 58% in 2016 compared to 2015. This trend is mirrored in other countries such as the US, where there is also a spike in hate crimes. Applying the traditional justice system to crimes of this nature is difficult to execute, and unlikely to yield significant results.

Graham Robb, Chair of Trustees at The Campus School, believes a new approach to administering justice and discipline is the answer. While attending the Salzburg Global session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills he shared his thoughts on how to better use Social and Emotional (SEL) skills in this area.

Robb advocates for “Restorative Justice,” (RJ) a process in which someone who does harm to another person, rather than being punished or treated as a criminal, is invited to take part in a conference involving them, the victim and other important figures, including parents and teachers. The conference follows a clear script with all participants fully briefed in advance; consideration is given to the time-frame after the incident in which the conference should take place, and even the order of participants’ arrivals is choreographed to minimize the possibility of further conflict. It is an opportunity for those involved to discuss their feelings, come to terms with the incident, and discuss how best to avoid it in the future. The process fosters empathy, and is designed to help people, particularly adolescents, understand other people’s perspectives of the incident and how it made them feel.

Robb, who has implemented the system in the high schools at which he served as head teacher, has seen “very high levels of satisfaction from the victims and perpetrators of incidents – they say it’s a fair process.” He continues, “Importantly, it’s proven to lead to a reduction in future behavior that causes harm.” Genuine feelings of remorse and freely offered apologies are common – an often-absent outcome of traditional disciplinary measures involving children and teenagers.

RJ promotes and amplifies the perpetrators’ SEL skills development. When used in schools, “the child realizes the impact they have on the people around them – that’s empathy straight away,” says Robb. It helps to give people, especially children and teenagers, a voice in ways they didn’t have before. As Robb explains: “You learn to name emotions; you’re giving a language to children to think about constructive ways to manage their conflicts or turmoil.” The SEL aspect of RJ is undeniable, and critical to its effectiveness: “It’s about communication skills, managing conflicts, managing emotions, empathy and problem solving.”
Robb believes RJ would be especially effective in countering the trend of hate crime – a crime that evidences a distinct lack of SEL skills. However, he acknowledges some challenges in the wider implementation of the process; the media especially presents an obstacle. “They’re likely to attack [RJ], saying people get away with crimes with just a ‘slap on the wrist’ or an apology,” explains Robb. This creates political pressure, and politicians are forced to respond to it. “This isn’t what RJ is about.” RJ is not about retribution but rather preventing similar behavior and incidents from happening again, and promoting understanding. Unfortunately, viewing RJ as “soft” remains an obstacle for its wider implementation.

Despite difficulties in implementation, the advantages are clear: it is an alternative to the “adversarial system” of the courts, one that reduces re-offending, can be evaluated, and is seen favorably by victims and perpetrators alike. In contemporary times, when the world seems to be in great need of empathy and other SEL skills, the value of Restorative Justice is evident.

In addition to improving the SEL skills of the individuals involved in the process, RJ can also provide wider societal benefits, especially when it is pursued instead of escalating a matter to the police and courts. Keeping potential young offenders out of the judicial system and improving their behavior helps to reduce future costs in court proceedings and incarceration.

Robb presented RJ as a case study at the session in Salzburg. Following his interactive workshop, which involved Fellows “hot-seating” him on his experiences of implementing this process in schools, Robb in turn appealed to Fellows to give him curricular advice and guidance for the new school – The Campus in north London, UK – that he is helping to establish. The school will exclusively serve students who have been removed from the conventional education system for behavioral reasons and aims to provide students with a “holistic” and supportive learning environment where “Your past can be history, not a career plan.”
As session co-organizer Catherine Millett of ETS remarked: “This is exactly what a Salzburg Global Seminar program is all about.” Exchanging knowledge and best practice the world over.

The day’s second panel considered “How do we ‘make the case’ for social and emotional learning (SEL)?“
Positive attitudes and behaviors towards self, school and society are developed through SEL. Research has shown that students who took part in controlled SEL programs saw improved classroom behavior, had better self-esteem and management of their of stress, and fewer instances of depression. Evidence increasingly shows the importance of social and emotional learning and its impact on other, cognitive skills – or as a discussant on the second panel put it: “If we invest in the heart, that will help the head.”

Researchers also expect that future employers will put greater emphasis on “human” skills such as communication, collaboration and creativity as we enter the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” making SEL vital for success in the workplace of tomorrow as well as the classroom of today.
Yet ambivalence towards SEL remains with some parents, educators, policymakers, and students questioning how much, if any, time it should be given in the curriculum. There is also a persistent ignorance about where SEL skills are most needed and valuable. SEL is not just necessary in schools – these skills must be practiced elsewhere also, and used throughout a person’s life, not just their education. How can we produce better evidence to support stronger arguments for the promotion and nurture of SEL?

Hundreds of SEL programs are currently being studied, but it is not enough to know if SEL programs work, but how, why and for whom as different results can be found in different contexts. Why is it that students who took part in a music-led SEL program exhibited greater empathy than those in the control drama-led SEL program? SEL programs alone do not see positive effects – they need to be well-planned, well-taught, and well-implemented.

Research has also shown that SEL programs are more effective when they are integrated in to the general curriculum and taught by classroom teachers rather than external experts. While they benefit hugely from such programs, adolescents often find it hard to engage in top-down SEL programs; educators need to engage them in both the program design and implementation. Evidence to support SEL can be found an built upon from many sectors beyond just education: much can be learned from studies focusing on neuroscience, psychology, health and economics, such as the impact of SEL on physical as well as mental health (mindfulness reduces heart pressure) and how cost effective this can be for society-at-large.

Responsibility for building this evidence base lies not only with policymakers and researchers, but also NGOs, teachers and parents. These adults too need to have their SEL developed.
Graham Robb was a participant in the Salzburg Global session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills, which is part of the multi-year Education for Tomorrow's World. This session is being hosted in partnership with ETS (Educational Testing Service). More information on the session can be found here: salzburgglobal.org/go/566. You can follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag: #SGSedu
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SALZBURG STATEMENTS

Salzburg Statement Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills

Salzburg Statement on Realizing Human Potential through Better Use of Assessment & Data in Education

Salzburg Statement - Quality Early Childhood Development and Education for all Girls and Boys