In 2020, the World Economic Forum released a list of the most sought-after skills for tomorrow’s jobs. Among them were a number of amazing entries such as creativity, coordination with others, mental intelligence and service orientation. At least they were amazing if you weren’t an educator. For those of us who spent the last year teaching through an epidemic, the need for socio-emotional education (SEL) was very clear. After all, what good is knowledge about STEM if you don’t have the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions?
As educators, we all know very well how important socio-emotional education is for the overall development of a student. Science, math, and reading are vital subjects, but empathy, self-awareness, and responsible-decision-making allow one to apply those subjects in a way that makes the world a better place.
But with so many values and topics competing for our attention, how do we make room for effective SEL in the classroom? Okay, it starts with the right activities. Here are just a few interesting lessons that can have a huge impact on students’ emotional growth:
Marshmallow test: In a 1972 experiment at Stanford University, young children were given a marshmallow. They can eat it now, or they can wait 15 minutes for Proctor to return. If they wait, they will get two marshmallows. The study followed students and found that those who could wait for the second marshmallow were more likely to be better students, have more friends and be physically healthy. Try re-creating this test with your own students to highlight the disadvantages of self-management and delayed satisfaction.