Considering SEL Frameworks and the Three Musketeers?

By: Dale A. Blyth, Consultant

 

Remember the three Musketeers – three brave men whose motto was One for All, and All for One?  They symbolized how important it was to work as a team (one for all) as well as how critical it was for all to be working toward one common end.  As I was finishing up the new series of three briefs on SEL frameworks released this month I started thinking about this motto and whether or not it applied to social and emotional learning (SEL).

 

These days there are a multitude of SEL frameworks – at least 136 by AIR’s count!  Are all these frameworks individual efforts to advance the “one” approach to SEL?  And what is the one SEL approach? Does the richness of so many frameworks help build a dynamic and vital field or simply confuse practical ways of moving this important work forward in specific places in ways that are better understood?  Or perhaps a bit of both?

 

Similarly, I wondered if the field needs “one for all” or one framework that all can use in a consistent manor as they implement SEL efforts.  However much one single, widely accepted and used framework might sound ideal, I am not convinced it would be the best approach – especially at this point in the development of the applied field of SEL.  Perhaps we need to make sure that all frameworks are aligned with and alignable to SEL if they are to be used (all for one) more than we need one framework for all that we do in different age groups, contexts, cultures, and with different populations of young people. Perhaps, just perhaps, there are better ways to advance the field than one dominant framework – especially since there are none on the horizon at this point in time.

 

The three new briefs on frameworks are the first in several series of briefs to be released each month this fall.  This first brief is designed to help people better understand what frameworks are, why they are important, and how they can be used.  The second examines more closely the challenges and the opportunities that come from so many frameworks and the multitude of specific social and emotional skills they define in often inconsistent ways.  The third introduces ten criteria to use in both prioritizing what you need from a framework for your particular uses and a way to review the relative strengths of different frameworks.

We hope you will look them over and let us know if they are useful and how they can be improved.

 

Future series on SEL frameworks by several authors will deal with 1) existing efforts and tools to compare frameworks and their competencies, 2) address issues of how frameworks deal with equity and development, and 3) provide descriptions of several frameworks that may be useful.

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