Education and "Charismatic" Adults: To Touch a Student’s Heart and Mind
In this article, I want to place the spotlight on two issues specifically embracing education: one, the importance of so-called social-emotional factors in the learning process and two, the lifelong impact that educators have on students. I believe that these two related topics play a central role in the educational process.
As many of my readers are aware, one of my primary interests in the field of education has focused on the challenge of creating school environments that nurture the emotional and cognitive lives of students, reinforce motivation and learning, and touch both the hearts and minds of students. I have long advocated in my workshops and consultation activities that the teaching of academic skills and content will be most effective when conducted in an environment that gives more than lip service to nourishing a student’s emotional life.
Yet, there have been those who honestly and respectfully differ with this opinion. At one of my workshops a high school science teacher challenged the emphasis I was placing on social-emotional factors in the educational milieu. She contended, "I am a science teacher. I know my science and I know how to convey science facts to my students. Why should I have to spend time thinking about the student’s emotional or social life? I don’t have time to do so and it will distract me from teaching science."
I know that there are many teachers and school administrators who would take issue with the views expressed by this science teacher, who believe as I do that focusing on a student’s social and emotional development may be as vital as teaching specific academic content. However, I am also aware that there are many educators who would concur with her opinion. I believe it is unfortunate that a dichotomy has emerged prompting some educators to perceive that nurturing a student’s emotional well-being is incompatible with the task of teaching academic skills.
I am convinced based on my own experiences as well as the feedback received from many educators that strengthening a student’s self-worth is not an "extra" curriculum; if anything, a student’s sense of belonging, security, and self-confidence in a classroom provides the scaffolding that supports the foundation for learning, motivation, self-discipline, responsibility, and the capacity to deal more effectively with mistakes. The absence of such a scaffolding weakens the educational process and lessens the joy that should accompany learning.
Permission to reprint granted by Dr. Robert Brooks. All rights reserved.
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