May 10, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

Awesome article. This deserves to be read and shared widely. I hope you’re right that the shift to Transformative SEL is recent enough that it can be stopped in its tracks. I absolutely believe that society makes life difficult for most of us in one way or another, but unless we are individually resilient, we cannot work for change in constructive ways.

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May 9, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

I am so glad to see you making the distinctions between the original intent and content of SEL and what it has become--Transformation SEL. I have taught meditation to adults and was quite keen to move into teaching these sorts of practices to younger people, and I have friends who were quite involved in the initial mindful-schools movement. The skills that kids can glean such as emotional regulation are really invaluable, and they pay off so much in terms of improved relationships, ability to achieve goals and manage setbacks, navigate change and uncertainty, and even successfully lead longer term (EQ, rather than IQ, tends to separate the good leaders from the great leaders). I love how you are trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater with your EmpowerED Humanity Theory and associated practices.

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May 10, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

I see this quotation in the article:

“A Black child can do every single one of these things perfectly, and still not make it home.”

Why is that? Why can't a Black child make it safely home? Or for that matter any other BIPOC or white child?

(As a note, The Washington Post keeps a database of police shootings and I see that for all of 2021 you have the following fatal shootings of unarmed men: White 7; Black 6; Hispanic 3, Unknown 12.)

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May 9, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

Very interesting essay.

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May 16, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

My introduction to Transformative SEL came courtesy of James Lindsay, through his New Discourses website and podcast:


Lindsay is our brilliant deep-diver into all things historical, ideological and practical when it comes to critical theory and its myriad current-day applications. This Free Black Thought article is an excellent, necessary follow-up. While acknowledging everything that Lindsay describes, it goes a step further and focuses on how we might save the positive features upon which SEL was originally based. It seems to me that this won't be easy. Critical theory has a way of thoroughly perverting and poisoning everything it touches. But we have to start somewhere, and this article makes clear why we should save SEL, not ditch it in despair.

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"But as important as survival is, SEL was never meant to solve social ills like police brutality or systemic racism. It is, instead, a crucial ingredient for cultivating the resolve and disposition to address those and other detrimental aspects of life, a first step and necessary in the march toward progress."

You make a great point, Sirs.

"It does this, specifically, by creating the qualities of character required to face the world courageously and resiliently and to interact productively with others."

You might face some headwinds here. It seems, to me at least, that good character has gone outta fashion.

"Continuing highly ideological practices of dubious value and thereby neglecting the social-emotional wellbeing of students and educators, especially in the midst of our ongoing national social-emotional crisis, may well create negative ripple effects for future generations."

I made a contribution so You all can, hopefully, overcome these kind-a negative ripple effects. Good Luck.

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Aug 18, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

Brilliant analysis of SEL! This is a thorough evaluation and dissection of two very different SEL approaches. Schools are employing third party “vendors” to administer & oversee transformative SEL programs attached to grant incentives. FERPA laws governing the survey component of SEL programs are practically nonexistent. Much appreciation for this stellar work! I’ll be sharing this to thousands of parents in my social media groups! Please consider hosting an Educational Summit on SEL. Peace & love!

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I do appreciate this article; it is informative and the concern you express about Transformative SEL seems justified. However I must admit that I am skeptical of regular ol' SEL, and I am dubious about whether it should be adopted in schools. I do suspect though that the badness both to individuals and to society will be much less than if Transformative SEL is adopted, and I also think that it is likely less erroneous than Transformative SEL.

When I was in high school I read Goleman's Emotional IQ book and I initially found it very compelling and interesting. But some time after digesting its ideas, I became disenchanted with some of the notions it promotes. There are many reasons I was disenchanted, but there are a few primary problems. Its a misnomer; applying the label "iq" to a collection of morals and to a collection of skills related to emotional awareness and regulation doesn't make rational sense. The research behind it suffers from what most psychological and social science research suffers from: poorly constructed studies which should not lead any carefully rational person to any firm conclusions about scientific validity. And the fact that there is a suggestion of assigning moral virtue to having greater emotional "iq."

The unfortunate reality though is that, while he says things like "the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. ...emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership" -- there is no clear awareness demonstrated that some of the most effective leaders in human history were also some of the most evil humans in history. What that would imply is that the development of "emotional intelligence" could lead to more Martin Luther King Jrs but also to more Hitlers. It also gives me the impression that Daniel Goleman may not be that emotionally intelligent. Or that he is quite emotionally intelligent, and is aware of the fact that the way his ideas are marketed will affect its adoption, and he is more interested in his ideas being adopted than providing a more humble, complete, and accurate picture of "emotional iq."

I am not familiar with SEL specifically -- I had not read anything about it until this article. But if it is based on Goleman's philosophy, I personally would not support its formal, structured, and pervasive adoption in a school system. Given the lack of self-awareness or sales-man-like-manipulativeness of Daniel Goleman, is it so surprising that SEL is morphing into a grotesque tool for political thought policing? What does it say about the self-proclaimed experts in self-awareness and emotional intelligence that they are adopting TSEL? What does it say about SEL that is has produced such people? I guess, maybe we can find some "anti-fragility" in it?

And I empathize with your desire to build a path that embraces compassion, but I think your path:

"1. Practices that build awareness and equanimity

2. Practices that celebrate our common humanity and break the walls of indignity; and

3. Practices that build kindness and compassion for self and others."

Is flawed in that it seems to imply that humans can or should rid themselves of indignity. I think some walls are important, to individuals, and to society. And some manifestations of compassion are sometimes even bad, both from a moral perspective and also potentially from simply a rational-hedonistic perspective. What are your thoughts about regulating and managing compassion? Maybe, even, emotions *shouldn't* "be channeled to best benefit all involved." Often times that is not even possible.

"This is the social crisis that keeps us up at night and that we are working to address."

Night is when I find equanimity perhaps the most desirable. May you have some good, restful, tranquil nights.

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May 15, 2022·edited May 15, 2022Liked by Free Black Thought

This article was terrific. At the same time, I wish more detail had been provided about the actual practices and concepts associated with Transformative SEL. The central concepts, I assume, are "white privilege," "intersectionality," "hierarchy," and "oppression." It is these, I believe, that turn Traditional SEL's focus on enhancing individuality and individual responsibility into teaching students primarily to enhance a sense of burden at being members of groups that either indulge in privileged harm to others or groups that suffer the oppression inflicted by those privileged groups. I do see that these ideas are implied in this article, which is terrific, but I think more specificity would help.

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