20 SES 02, Developing a Curriculum for Intercultural Education
Parallel Paper Session
An area where educational research is particularly well placed to champion freedom, education and development for all is social-emotional learning (SEL). From both theoretical and practical perspectives, SEL can be viewed as a precursor and cause of improved academic achievement and as a desired educational outcome in itself in developing dispositions and competencies for life effectiveness (Cohen, 2006; Greenberg, Kusche, Cook, & Quamma, 1995). Studies of PATHS and related programmes at the primary school level have shown positive effects on social-emotional, behavioural, and cognitive skills (Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak, & Hawkins, 2002; Greenberg, 2006). Obvious links may be drawn between social-emotional learning and social mobility, although these links have not yet been researched through longitudinal studies.
Despite the beneficial impacts identified for individual programmes in recent evaluation studies, the strength of the evidence supporting SEL programmes in general remains a topic of debate. As Hoffman (2009) indicates in a recent synthesis of the literature “…reviews examining existing studies indicate serious flaws and constraints in much of the evaluation research, including a lack of experimental design and a preponderance of anecdotal, self-commissioned and self-funded evaluations, suggesting that many of the dramatic claims for SEL are unsubstantiated.” This lack of clear evidence leaves schools wondering how to interpret and use research findings to inform their own provision and practice, and which programmes to choose. However, the development and evaluation of PATHS (NI),a recent SEL programme in the UK, may provide important sign-posts (Sheard et al, 2012).
The PATHS (NI) programme (formerly known as Together 4 All), was designed to foster prosocial behaviours and mutual respect and understanding among children of different religions and cultural backgrounds in Northern Ireland. The programme was developed in response to the findings of an epidemiology study which identified above average incidents of domestic violence and aggression and above average levels of child anger and conduct disorder. Based on the PATHS model, the programme seemingly offered the best fit of several options with pupils’ needs, and had strong evidence supporting its effectiveness. Adapted to Northern Ireland culture by translating written material to UK English and using culturally appropriate children’s literature and themes, PATHS (NI) is a specific school intervention programme with a prescribed curriculum. The programme may be considered as a potential vehicle for cultural change, promoting social cohesion in a diverse and traditionally divided society, and an agent of social change, in promoting pupils’ self-efficacy, responsibility and social problem-solving.
The curriculum consists of scripted age-appropriate lessons dealing with recognising emotions, expressing feelings, coping with negative feelings such as anger, and reacting to social problem-solving situations. Ongoing training and support for key staff, and the provision of detailed lesson plans and associated resources are key features of the programme.
Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A. M., Lonczak, H. C., & Hawkins, J. D. (2002). Positive Youth Development in the United States. Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programmes. Prevention & Treatment, 5, Article 15, Retrieved October 5, 2004, from http://journals. Apa.org/prevention/volume5/pre0050015a.html. Cohen, J. (2006) Social, Emotional, Ethical, and Academic Education: Creating a Climate for Learning, Participation in Democracy, and Well-Being. Harvard Educational Review. 76, (2), Summer 2006, 201-237 Greenberg, M. T. (2006). Promoting resilience in children and youth: Preventative interventions and their interface with neuroscience. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 139-150. Greenberg, M. T., Kusche, C. A., Cook, E.T., & Quamma, J.P. (1995) Promoting emotional competence in school-aged children: The effects of the PATHS curriculum. Development and Psychopathology. l 7,(1), 117 Hoffman, D. M. (2009). Reflecting on social-emotional learning: A critical perspective on trends in the United States. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 533-556. Sheard, M., Ross, S. & Cheung A. (2012) A Pathway to Improving Pupils’ Social-Emotional Learning and Self-Efficacy. Better Volume 4 Issue 2 Institute for Effective Education, University of York: Cambridge Publishers Limited
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