Manipulating Our Kids for 'Social and Emotional' Purposes

It's now clear that a generation has been indoctrinated in the public schools to believe that gender is a fluid construct, and therefore children should be supported in mutilating their bodies to become the sex they prefer; that structural racism by whites against blacks is the overwhelming reality in America, requiring reverse racism to "fix’" things; and that climate change will doom life on earth in the next 30 years unless radical changes are made in Western society and the civilizational ethos undergirding it. We must give up fossil fuels, individualism, and free choice in favor of decisions by unelected elites about energy resources.

All of this figures in the “Great Reset.” It constitutes a radicalization of America, and a repudiation of our national values. It’s worth asking, how was this accomplished in a school day in which reading, math, and science needed to be taught? The answer is that the subject matter curriculum – environmental science, for instance – was changed. But to really indoctrinate children, the lessons had to go deeper than any mere science course could manage.

The major delivery system for the trans/Critical Race Theory/"climate change" agendas is a curriculum called Social and Emotional Learning – SEL for short, which is now pervasive in American classrooms. The concept was invented in the late 1960s by James Comer, a Yale Professor of education, to help children at a low-achieving, ghetto school in New Haven to acquire some social and self-management skills that their impoverished, poorly educated parents could not impart, the theory being that this would help with academic achievement.

First word, third world, what's the difference?

It worked. By the late 1980s the original target schools were scoring much higher on standardized tests, as students learned emotional self-regulation and how to get along with others by building healthy relationships. 

So, naturally, SEL spread. And morphed. Starting in 1994, left-wing education foundations adopted it. These days it is found in schools across the country – all 50 states have adopted it for at least some students. As has the world; SEL went wholly woke on race after 2020, and has spread like wildfire since the Covid closures ended. Many of its pedagogical goals are embedded in, and therefore measured by, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It has become a great deal more invasively therapeutic even as it has edged out traditional, straightforward pedagogy by which teachers convey subject matter to students.

The conservative critique is that SEL is moral education without reference to either traditional Judeo-Christian principles or traditional Western values. That is, morality without God and political ideology that negates individualism, personal freedoms, and capitalism. In particular, it uses an overemphasis on empathy to inculcate new values. Naturally not all parents want the state teaching morals and values to their children, especially where the school version will conflict with what parents teach at home. According to Kimberly Ells, writing in The Federalist, it “displaces parents as transmitters of values; pushes social learning ahead of substance; instills ‘pluralistic thinking’; aligns with global, not local or national goals.”

The other major critique is that school becomes group therapy. Robert Pondiscio, an AEI Education Fellow told Pipeline that the problem is that “teachers are encouraged to become quasi-therapists to the degree that they take liberties with the curriculum. And they are functionally encouraged to do this.” This leaves us with a politicized education in therapeutic language, which is harder for a child to resist than, say, a controversial ‘fact’ that a parent might contradict. The CRT and trans agendas are far more pronounced in SEL culture, but climate change is third.

Do it for the children.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning is the organization responsible for promulgating SEL domestically and worldwide. They are funded by, among others, the NoVo Foundation, which focuses on "ending violence against women and girls." In 2016 – the Collaborative set up test programs in eight states to measure all K-12 students on five non-cognitive elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Now all American pre-K kids are tested for competence in these skills.

The International Society for Technology in Education, an educational lesson planning website, offers “Three Strategies for Integrating SEL Into Environmental Science Projects.” It includes the (welcome) admonition to lessen the anxiety with which Greta Thunberg imbued the subject for children.

Social and emotional learning is no longer just an American tool. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO has adopted it as a format for equalizing First and Third world economic conditions. Socialist educators in India use UNESCO rubrics to promulgate ideology that will push First World youth world to give up fossil fuels to fix the unrelated Third World mess. Because empathy = equity.

In one blog post from UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development, teachers are encouraged to adapt ‘immersive storytelling,’ in the form of short films and photography, to making students aware of the impending planetary destruction. The Gandhi Institute, in a 2021 workshop, taught that “Education that makes full use of SEL has a major role to play in generating shifts in mindsets and behaviors, which are critical for the achievement of all the Social Development Goals, in particular 1 (no poverty), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action), 15 (life on land), 3 (health and well-being), 16 (peace and rule of law), etc.”

To specifically face the challenges of sustainability: Anxiety is arising among people, especially youth, being part of the generation of an “apocalyptic future” to whom we need to offer a pedagogy for hope valuing SEL so that they are able to engage in society in a constructive manner, knowing that there is an uncertain future. Encouraging learners to undertake transformative action to address sustainability challenges requires SEL in order to promote skills such as persistence and determination as well as empathetic awareness of the interconnectedness of people to the planet, which is one of the key features of the new global framework.

There are dozens of others examples, from all around the world. SEL is where woke starts. 

Why the Fuss over the Coronavirus Is Familiar

If you think the apocalyptic concern over the coronavirus seems familiar, it is -- because you've been hearing Doom and Gloom and The End is Near hugger-mugger from the Left regarding that elusive monster, "climate change," for decades. We've all been pounded daily by the climate cult to believe that the world is burning up, that much of it is our fault (the Western democracies that is; the peace-loving, pre-industrial vegans of China and India are wholly innocent), and the only solution is an immediate lowering of Western standards of living and a huge cash transfusion to the Third World -- which, as usual, is hardest hit, along with women and other minorities.

In The Hill, Rupert Darwall makes the comparison:

Today's coronavirus pandemic puts into some perspective the climate emergency, which has been running for nigh on 32 years. The climate emergency was first announced in June 1988. “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war,” the Toronto climate conference declared that month.

One way of assessing the reliability of a body of science with major policy implications is whether the experts in the field are prone to over-predicting the severity of the problem. Take smoking: In 1953, Richard Doll, one of the pioneer epidemiologists in discovering the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, predicted that, in 1973, the number of deaths from lung cancer in Britain would be as high as 25,000. The actual number was 26,000. Doll’s prediction passed a hard test.

By contrast, the Toronto climate conference predicted global temperatures would increase by between 1.5 and 4.5°C (2.7°F and 8.1°F) by the 2030s. Since 1988, average global temperature has risen at a rate of 0.177°C (0.32°F) per decade, less than one-half the 0.36°C (0.65°F) per decade implied by a 1.5°C rise by 2030 and only one-sixth of the rate of a 4.5°C rise. If there’s been a mainstream climate scientist who has under-predicted global warming, he or she must have taken the scientific equivalent of a Trappist vow of silence.

Not such a great track record, but never fear: they'll continue retailing the same nonsense for as long as the Western media lets them get away with it, which will be forever. But on the theory that a single event, anywhere in the world, proves the existence of  "global warming" or "climate change," the coronavirus has become part of the quasi-religious mania that has put the "mental" into the "environmentalist" Left. Just as Godzilla was a furious Nature's revenge on the world for atomic testing, so is the WuHan virus Mother Gaia's attempt to restore the natural balance, by showing us who the real virus is.

For proof, note this story in Britain's ultra-left-wing publication, The Guardian:

Government responses to climate breakdown and to the challenges of poverty and inequality must be changed permanently after the coronavirus has been dealt with, leading scientists have urged, as the actions taken to suppress the spread of the virus have revealed what measures are possible in an emergency.

The Covid-19 crisis has revealed what governments are capable of doing and shone a new light on the motivation for past policies and their outcomes, said Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, and chair of the commission of the social determinants of health at the World Health Organisation.

“With Covid-19, everything [on austerity] went out of the window. It turns out austerity was a choice,” he said. “The government can spend anything [in the context of the coronavirus crisis], and they have socialised the economy.” The urgency with which the government had acted showed that the response to an emergency could be swift and decisive, he said. But the climate crisis has been viewed as a “slow-burn” issue and had not elicited such a response. “Coronavirus exposes that we can do things differently,” Marmot said. “We must not go back to the status quo ante.”

That's the new game plan: once the battle against the virus has been won, there's no need to remove the restrictions on personal freedom that have marked the political response to the coronavirus. Also, kiss your old lifestyle good-bye:

Some people have pointed out that the response to the current crisis has reduced emissions and air pollution in the short term. But Jason Hickel, lecturer in economic anthropology at Goldsmiths University, warned of taking too many lessons from that.

“When you scale down energy use and industrial production, it does have these ecological benefits but the crucial thing to observe is that this is happening in an unplanned, chaotic way which is hurting people’s lives,” he said. “We would never advocate such a thing. What we need is a planned approach to reducing unnecessary industrial activity that has no connection to human welfare and that disproportionately benefits already wealthy people as opposed to ordinary people. There are much more equitable, just and carefully planned ways to approach this kind of problem.”

Right... As Darwall, the author of Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (2017) and The Age of Global Warming: A History (2013), observes:

The coronavirus pandemic shows what a genuine crisis looks like. No one has to catastrophize it; the facts speak for themselves. Inducing fear and panic is counter-productive.

One thing hasn’t changed and won’t change: Catastrophizing climate change for political ends. At one of the secretive meetings in 1987, limited to only 25 key participants that led to the formation of the IPCC, it was recognized that climate change had to be catastrophized to persuade politicians that they should embark on damaging emissions cuts. Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres complained about the attention being given to COVID-19: “Whilst the disease is expected to be temporary, climate change has been a phenomenon for many years, and will remain with us for decades and require constant action.”

Two lessons can be drawn. The first is the importance of governments and responsible international bodies focusing on genuine threats that can rapidly overwhelm our capacity to handle them. Something has gone very wrong when the World Health Organization, the lead institution coordinating the response to global pandemics, climbed on the climate bandwagon and called the Paris Agreement “potentially the strongest health agreement of this century” and listed climate change as the No. 1 threat to global health.

The second is resilience. Richer societies are better able to handle a pandemic than poorer ones. Since 1992, South Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions have more than doubled and it is planning to grow them under the Paris Agreement. Unlike House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her colleagues, South Korea has no intention of sacrificing its economy on the altar of climate change. Nor should America.

In other words, when reality hits the fan, the morbid preoccupation with imaginary problems is the first thing out the window. All of the social-justice causes of the past decade -- the fixation on "gender," the sighting of "racism" everywhere, and "climate change" -- suddenly seem if not totally irrelevant then very small beer indeed. They were luxuries we could afford, because deep down we all knew -- even the Left, which wields these monomanias like clubs against civilization -- that they didn't really matter. That, at the end of the day, we could turn the lights out and go to sleep, secure in the knowledge that there were no monsters in the closet or under the bed.

The climate isn't changing, but the times certainly are.