Defending Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning

Timothy Shriver and Roger P. Weissberg defend Social and Emotional Learning in an article published by the education journal Phi Delta Kappan.
Tim Shriver sits next to female student at a high school assembly.
Tim Shriver visits Papillon La Vista South High School in Papillon, Nebraska.

The following is an excerpt from the article “A response to constructive criticism of social and emotional learning” published by Phi Delta Kappan. In it, Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman of the Board, and Roger P. Weissberg, Chief Knowledge Officer at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, answer critics who say Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) does not serve diverse students.

“When it comes to definitional clarity, the SEL movement actually has a lot going for it. As far back as 1994, CASEL began to convene diverse groups of researchers, practitioners, and child advocates to introduce definitions to guide the field (Elias et al., 1997). While individual SEL frameworks may differ, leaders in the movement have come to a strong consensus on certain basic principles: Any viable SEL framework should highlight both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills and attitudes; be developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive, and empirically grounded, and offer evidence-based practitioner resources and supports to implement and evaluate programming (Blyth et al., 2019). For its part, CASEL defines SEL as the processes through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (Weissberg et al., 2015).”

Read the full article here.

Three million young people participate in 7,500 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® across the US with support from the US Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education. These young people make up the Unified Generation. They are taking personal ownership within their schools and communities to ensure that everyone has the right to play, learn and live together through shared leadership opportunities of students with and without intellectual disabilities. To learn more about the Unified Generation, visit:

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