Social Emotional Learning

Awesome Con 2019 Panel: Pop Culture as Social Emotional Learning Tool

Presenters: Clara Delgado & Julio Pena III

    When I saw a panel discussion on social emotional learning tools, I knew it was meant to be. The social worker in me screamed it would be great. I have to say, it was as great as i expected.

    Clara Delgado and Julio Pena III presented this topic in a manner that was meant for the general public – especially geared towards teachers and those that work with individuals on a long term basis.

    So what is social emotional learning? Simply, it’s the way in which people learn about their emotions and how to manage those emotions. Emotions and feelings can be this big scary thing, but now imagine a child who may not have the vocabulary or understanding to talk about why he threw his pencil. Well, he may have been mad, but what other feelings were going on? So many times there is so much deeper than just “I’m mad” and social emotional learning helps to figure them to figure that out, identify it, and learn to better manage it.

    Why is it so important? The thing is, and Ms. Delgado and Mr. Pena did an amazing job illustrating it, when kids come into school every day, they are carrying baggage. For some kids, it’s not so bad and they are able to focus on other things. For other kids, this baggage can include complex traumas and hunger and homelessness and a million other things. So, when a teacher tries to teach, the kiddo can’t take on one more piece of baggage (in this case, the education), and they fail. So in order to teach better, or be better adults in general, we have to understand and work through some of that. What a better way to do that than by using pop culture to engage a kiddo to deal with some of their issues.

    Every child I have ever met has heard of Batman. Not only have they heard of him, but they have some working knowledge of his background or who he is. Tackling issues like grief or trauma can be easier when they can relate it to what Batman might have felt instead of what they are feeling. You aren’t limited to Batman or just comics or just superheros. Kids know things and they see things. There are pop culture references everywhere they go and in everything they see.By integrating pop culture, you are opening up conversation and opportunity.

    Ms. Delgado and Mr. Pena have both been in the field working with kids in New York City for over twenty years. They have the experience to show that this works and it can be an extremely valuable tool. The offered so many resources and ideas that really get your mind going. I encourage you to look more and explore more especially if you are in contact with kids. The only way we can secure our future is by listening and engaging our youth.

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