The Corner


Making Up for Our Educational Deficiencies

Changes in society have left many young Americans poorly prepared to deal with all the stuff life throws at them. Our schools aren’t doing a good job at filling the void.

In today’s Martin Center article, Florida State music student Eric Jansen argues that many students have been short-changed in the realm of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). He thinks that music education is one way to help them.

Jansen writes, “SEL seeks to teach students the skills they need to control themselves in social situations and to properly deal with their emotions. This can be as simple as knowing how to introduce oneself or how to manage anger in a professional setting, or as complex as how to have a healthy relationship or how to deal with the death of a loved one. These skills are ignored all too often when it comes to educating our future generations because they are not ‘academic’ and are seen as irrelevant to developing job skills (although we will see later why this is a misconception), compared to easier-to-test skills like literacy or arithmetic.”

Young people used to get large doses of SEL from family and religious life, but both have declined, he correctly observes. Music education would be one way for schools to teach SEL.

“Music educators already teach many SEL skills such as collaboration, co-operation, self-discipline, and self-awareness. If an ensemble does not work together properly, or if the players don’t do their work, the group can’t perform. These lessons transfer to social situations in school and work and would prepare students for higher education and their careers,” Jansen writes.

Many of his college classmates are lacking in SEL, he notes.

I’d certainly like to see schools do more music education and drop the infatuation with “diversity,” but I’m not optimistic about that.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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