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This paper focuses on the testimonies of three male primary school staff members who utilised social and emotional learning (SEL) in their everyday practice within their respective schools. The data, collected through individual interviews, illustrate how these three men interpreted SEL, and their role in the development of children's social, emotional and behavioural (SEB) skills, in response to their perceptions of pupils' home-life. In particular, the sample identified the children's fathers' perceived ability/inability as a main cause of pupils' SEB deficiencies. Consequently, the three male staff members maintained that in order to advocate and encourage alternative, appropriate behaviours, they should act as "replacement fathers" and become "role models". The findings contribute to existing debates relating to the notion of "positive male role models" in primary schools and the propensity for staff to engage in parental blame. The implications of these findings are discussed, and suggestions that call for a more democratic and cooperative exchange of knowledge between parents and teachers are made.
This paper focuses on primary school staff members' interpretations of the UK social and emotional learning initiative: SEAL. The data, collected through group and individual interviews with a range of staff members working in schools located in deprived areas, illustrate how the scheme has been used to encourage various behaviours. This utilisation of SEAL was influenced by staff members' perceptions of the pupils' parents, and particularly their in/ability to develop 'appropriate' social, emotional and behavioural skills. Staff members identified a range of objectionable behaviours, exhibited by the pupils, which were perceived to have been encouraged in the home. In response, schools operationalised SEAL to endorse alternative behaviours deemed 'appropriate'. Implications of the findings, in terms of marginalising the values and 'othering' the practices of specific sections of society, are discussed, and recommendations are made for a more democratic approach to schooling which prioritises a mutual exchange of knowledge between school and home.
This paper raises questions about social and emotional learning (SEL) as a facilitator of all children's social, emotional and behavioural skills. Drawing on qualitative data, in the form of group and individual interviews with a range of primary school and early years staff members across four case studies, the findings indicate that children's social and emotional behaviours linked to social class, gender and ethnicity were targeted through SEL, revealing a propensity for staff to endorse a normative model of experiences for young children. By clarifying some of the concerns around such monist approaches to SEL, I make the case for an agonistic model that not only embraces difference and contestation, but uses them as a focus for learning.
This article draws on a study which investigated the interpretation and use of Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) in primary schools in the UK (the authors gratefully acknowledge Studentship funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for this study). The paper focuses on school staff members' perceptions about the intentions and purposes of the scheme. The testimonies of head teachers, management staff, teachers, teaching assistants, welfare assistants and pastoral staff members illustrated how the interpretation and use of SEAL was influenced by their perceptions about the pupils' parents and, in particular, parental ability to develop 'appropriate' social, emotional and behavioural skills in their children. In schools where parenting was positively appraised, SEAL was used to complement parenting practices; whilst in schools where parents were negatively appraised, SEAL was used to counter their endeavours. The scheme was also used to compensate for certain inadequacies that were deemed to be taking place in the home. These differing perceptions of parents were linked to social class, with the scheme being used to complement the practices of middle-class parents and to counter those of minority-ethnic and working-class people. We contend that this interpretation and use of the scheme helped to re-affirm the practices of the dominant culture whilst serving to marginalise the values of the less powerful groups in society. Implications of the study's findings are discussed and recommendations for staff, schools and policy are made.
The need for improved well-being of children in Britain has been highlighted in a raft of reports both nationally and internationally. In this paper, I aim to explore some of the practicalities experienced by schools that, in response, have implemented social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions as a means to improve child well-being. I make the case that the discourses of emotions inherent within such schemes, and the various supranational publications, are susceptible to exploitation and manifestation. The study employed a mixed methodological approach, utilising a combination of quantitative and qualitative strategies with primary school staff members including head teachers, teachers, teaching assistants, welfare staff, other support staff, etc. Three phases of study--questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews--were administered as a means of creating an insight into the interpretation and use of SEL in these settings. The findings demonstrate a propensity for staff to conflate social and emotional aspects of self with more moralistic constructs of identity, revealing how SEL schemes have the potential to act as tools of cultural imperialism by marginalising and/or endorsing certain values, norms and behaviours. After maintaining that such realisations of these schemes may impede rather than improve the lived experiences of children, that are fundamental to their social and emotional well-being and mental health, I make the case for alternative approaches to SEL in schools.