Educators have always been aware of the importance of emotional well-being when it comes to student success, but have rarely engaged with it as a foundational part of their curriculum. This is changing. A growing number of teachers and researchers are realising the power of integrating social and emotional learning in schools – especially in a day and age that is increasingly ruled by digital technologies.
The Economist Intelligence Unit wrote a white paper on this, commissioned by Microsoft, which explores how educators “view the relationship between emotional well-being and learning”. Data was gathered via an international survey, and engaged with 762 educators over 15 countries at both a primary and secondary level. The paper considered the ways artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping work and life and thus shaping how students not only engage with their education but also how they will live in a technological world long after graduation. The report itself considers how integrating emotional well-being and social learning and cognition in education systems can not only help students thrive in the classroom, but ensure that they continue to thrive well beyond it too.
In fact, over 75% of teachers surveyed believed that positive emotional well-being was essential for academic success. This was the case across the globe, with educators in from Asia, Latin America, North America, Australia, and Europe placing a high value on positive emotion and its effect on cognition in the classroom. It is strongly suggested that good emotional well-being contributes to developing foundational skills, such as reading and writing, mathematics, communication skills, emotional literacy, and critical thinking. On the flip-side, anxiety and depression are believed to seriously affect how students engage with curriculums, peers, and the world at large – scientifically influencing their long-term success.
The Entire Campus: Teachers Included
Many schools around the world are developing formal policies and promoting emotional health across their campuses. Of the schools surveyed, over half had an explicit well-being policy in place while the remainder were developing strategies and supporting emotional well-being in other ways. This included support for teacher well-being and development and nurturing the emotional positivity of the campus at large, and not just focusing on the student population. This is an important step, as it isn’t only the students who benefit from positive thinking when it comes to learning. Burned out, depressed, and anxious teachers experience a significant reduction in performance, and their classes suffer as a result. Experts argue that any strategy that aims to improve student well-being should also consider the teachers, administrators, and school leaders on campus if they are to reach their goals. School-wide policies are the cornerstone of success.
The Effect of Technology
While we understand the benefit of emotional well-being in schools, the effect of technology can be a double-edged sword. The rise of digital technology has allowed for more engaged, personalised learning experiences. Virtual and Augmented Realities are helping classes develop social skills and become good digital citizens ready to face an era beyond 2020. Digital technologies also introduce students to issues such as racial, ethnic, and gender biases, and help them engage with the world at large and not just with the world on their campus. However, technology involved with social media platforms has been seen to worsen bullying and social anxiety, and be a significant distractor to homework, class work, and even social growth. So, while technology has enabled great growth for schools – it also presents big issues for the psychology of student welfare.
Educators and innovators need to be aware of this. Ignoring the issues of technology as beyond the school’s control ignores the fact that emotional well-being is integral to success – and far more easily influenced in a digital age. For this reason, it is important for school leaders to create policies that encourage students to be more aware of their digital landscape – and provide avenues for positive mental and academic growth.
If you want to learn more about how technology can not only enable better teaching but better learning too – contact MOQdigital. Our education team is dedicated to delivering solutions that enhance student success and help campuses make the most of their digital investments. Find out more today.