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Emotional education, key to teaching-learning in times of coronavirus

marzo 31, 2021

Including emotional education in the curriculum and training the entire educational community in socio-emotional competencies will help improve teaching-learning during the health crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic It has caused a strong psychological impact on the educational community and society in general. The closure of educational centers, the need for physical distancing, the loss of loved ones, of work and the deprivation of conventional learning methods have generated stress, pressure and anxiety, especially among teachers, students and their families, says UNESCO in its report Promotion of the socio-emotional well-being of children and young people during crises (2020).

To address and counteract the social anxiety and emotional burden that COVID-19 has unleashed in the educational community is more necessary than ever to develop socio-emotional skills among teachers, families and especially students, affirm various international organizations. But how to make emotional education a reality both in times of coronavirus and in normal circumstances? In this monograph, experts and sources consulted provide proposals to facilitate that the emotional education is increasingly present and is explicitly included in the educational curriculum.

The importance of emotional education before, during and after the coronavirus

The Emotional education “is a continuous and permanent educational process, which aims to promote the development of emotional competencies as an essential element of human development, in order to train for life and with the purpose of increase personal and social well-being“as defined Rafael Bisquerra and Nuria Pérez, researchers from the University of Barcelona.

Every crisis, from wars to pandemics like the one currently experienced by COVID-19, involves strong negative emotional responses, such as panic, stress, anxiety, anger and fear. Developing social-emotional learning skills in people helps stressful situations to be approached calmly and with balanced emotional responses. What’s more, These competencies help strengthen critical thinking to make better-informed decisions in life., says UNESCO.

If emotional development is not addressed appropriately, there is most likely a increased anxiety, stress, depression, substance use, risky sexual behavior, uncontrolled impulsivity, violence, etc. There are studies that point to this since before the coronavirus, and in the current context there are elements that will increase it. The conclusion would be to become aware of the importance of prevention. Which passes for a emotional education that meets the minimum requirements indicated by research“, says for his part Bisquerra, president of the International Network for Emotional Education and Well-being (RIEEB) in an interview to Educaweb.

Likewise, other experts in emotional education agree that situations of fear and stress have a negative impact on the health and ability to learn of each and every student. For this reason, the Spanish Association for Emotional Education warns that the educational system and all education professionals must be aware that teaching-learning can only be effective from a emotional balance and adequate mental health of the students. Hence the importance of emotional education.

Emotional education, absent from the curriculum at all stages

Emotional education does not appear in the curriculum of any educational stage in Spain. “The implementation of emotional education is clearly insufficient, if not totally absent, both in quantity and quality,” says Bisquerra.

Various investigations reveal that explicitly introduce the teaching of socio-emotional skills into the curriculum has a strong correlation with a better academic performance. In addition, the lack of emotional education in education systems can result in productivity losses of up to 29% of Gross Domestic Product, warns UNESCO.

For all these reasons, the agency urges governments to integrate the learning of socio-emotional competencies in all education, formal, non-formal and informal, and at all levels, implanting them as a necessity in the fundamental objectives of teaching-learning, and allocating sufficient time in the curriculum for their development. Also remember that effective emotional education programs must be scientifically rigorous and empirical, as well as participatory and inclusive.

In the bill of the LOMLOE explicitly mentions the need to work it in all areas of Primary and Secondary Education. Is this an indicator that the emotional education could take on more prominence in the curriculum?

Training in emotional education, necessary for the entire educational community

Regardless of whether emotional education forms part of the curriculum or not, an essential factor for its development in the educational context is have a well-trained teaching staff, that know how to manage your own emotions and that he is prepared for the students to acquire the socio-emotional skills necessary to face various situations.

Nevertheless, more than 90% of teachers have never received training in emotional education “in a systematic way, based on scientific research and sufficient in quantity (time) and quality,” says Bisquerra. “The teachers who have been trained, in general, have done so at their own risk, dedicating time, efforts and budgets.”

Xavi Corbella and Martín Merlo, teachers of the Siuriana Foundation, also agree on this. Article for Educaweb, and they point out that, unlike what happens with the already existing subjects in the curriculum, “emotional education involves more than theoretical management, involves the management of one’s own emotions and this point is not worked on in the teacher’s curricular training “.

For improve teacher training in the socio-emotional field, UNESCO does the following recommendations in your report Promotion of the socio-emotional well-being of children and young people during crises (2020).

  • Include socio-emotional skills in teacher training programs, both in initial training and in teaching practice, and in professional development programs, in order to address stress and boost emotional and social skills in the classroom.
  • Guarantee that the directors of the educational centers allocate time to the teachers for their socio-emotional training and give them the opportunity to acquire these skills.
  • Promote communication and networking among teachers. That is to say, creating communities of practice among teachers within educational centers and between different schools to promote the learning of social-emotional skills, mutual support and continuous well-being.

About, Susanna Arjona Borrego, Member of the Network of Experts of the Col·legi de Pedagogs de Catalunya, points out in his article for Educaweb that “the moment demands flexibility and creativity from us. need to create a network, cooperate between all educational agents. Today, the management of each center, the management team and the director as leader and emotional manager of their team, is basic “.

Likewise, ensuring that students and teachers acquire socio-emotional competencies does not only mean facilitating teacher training in emotional education, “and its consequent transversal approach in the curriculum, but it is also necessary train families“, proposes the educational counselor Laura Carpintero in its Article for Educaweb.

In fact, evidence from countries affected by crises similar to the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that the adverse effects of stress and anxiety caused by this situation can be mitigated if boys and girls have positive relationships with their families and with teachers who have achieved good management of social-emotional skills and that they develop explicit social-emotional learning activities. “This makes it easier for students to heal traumatic experiences and return to a normal life,” warns UNESCO. Hence the importance of social-emotional skills training reaching the entire educational community.

The health alert, an opportunity to enhance emotional education?

The health alert is an opportunity for emotional education to become important between the educational community and the administrations, the experts agree. In fact, various AMPAS, teacher groups and political groups have proposed that in the next school year it be given more relevance and included in the curriculum of all educational stages so that it is taught in a systematic and transversal way as soon as possible.

Emotional education is more present as a result of the pandemic, according to the sources consulted. This is indicated by the fact that during the health crisis, even the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training has emphasized the need to provide emotional education tools to the educational community.

Therefore, different resources and support, including the project Emocrea at home, developed by teachers from the Faculty of Education of the University of La Laguna. Emocrea (Emotional education and creativity) is the compulsory subject that has been established in the Canary Islands since 2014, and that as a result of the pandemic has had to be developed remotely creating didactic materials to work on emotional competences from homes, “to give an answer immediate to the need of families and teachers to alleviate the harmful emotional effects of confinement “, point out its creators.

The training offer in this regard grows in formats of postgraduate and master’s programs in the country and abroad, and they have been organized virtual events around this matter in times of coronavirus. An example is the cycle of seminars on emotional intelligence in crisis offered by the International Network for Emotional Education and Well-being (RIEEB), which can be accessed through the website of this entity.

Likewise, there are different educational projects, initiatives and networks of centers that, beyond the pandemic, promote the Emotional education. These are center projects or even autonomous communities. It is the case of the program Responsible education the Botín Foundation and the Department of Education, Culture and Sports of the Government of Cantabria; or the Extremeña Network of Schools of Emotional Intelligence. There are also compilations of good emotional education practices in schools, such as those of …