So I promote my classes through Facebook. Someone gave me an interesting reply with an opposing point of view. I want to post what she said:
"This struck me as something I might like to recommend to my daughter for her grandson who is having difficulties. However, my research would prohibit me from doing so as explained in this editorial. This seems to have a Buddhist-like connotation to it which would bother me greatly as a Christian. It seems to interfere with the inner consciousness of knowing right from wrong and suppresses the natural inner feelings and emotions. To tell you the truth, it scares me as it seems akin to brainwashing...we need to be very careful what we choose for our children under the guise of science.
How Social and Emotional Learning Could Harm Our Kids
How Social and Emotional Learning Could Harm Our…
BLOGS.SCIENTIFICAMERICAN.COM|BY INGRID WICKELGREN
I read the article she posted. If anyone has similar concerns or thoughts I wanted to post my reply:
Thank you for posting this. If I read this article I would have been concerned also. This gives me a chance to share my experience with the program. So, what is fascinating to me is that brain research is now confirming that many of the things we learn from religion, are actually super healthy for our brains. Things like being thankful, serving others, being self-aware and when we make or are about to make mistakes, realize it and correct our behavior. For so many years it seemed to me that psychology’s message didn’t coincide with what one may be taught through most world’s religions (Just so you know, personally I am a Christian). Psychology seemed focused on serving our own needs and doing what felt good and blaming others and circumstances. Don’t get me wrong—sometimes we need to mourn and feel selfish and sad and mourn and grieve. However, rolling in selfishness and blaming others and not taking control of our own emotions and how we react in the world does not bring much peace in the longterm. Maybe temporarily. And the awesome thing is that brain science now verifies this. Yay!
I started teaching MindUP last January. It is a curriculum that was created to incorporate in schools. Obviously I am teaching it at the community recreation center so what I do will be a bit different. Anyone can order the manual. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/MindUP-Curriculum-Brain-Focused-Strategies-Learning%C2%97/dp/0545267137/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1448067547&sr=8-2&keywords=mind+up
So one of the things the article spoke about was the ringing of the bell several times a day and that was a signal to stop whatever you were doing and do deep breathing. So there’s all kind of research showing deep breathing actually helps calm the brain. The bell is a way to get the kids to stop what they are doing and basically get them to calm down and get refocused again. I teach this briefly but since I am a small group class I don’t spend a lot of time on this. That said, I personally think a bell to quiet down and gain control is a lot better than a teacher nagging you. Of course there are a lot of strategies to get kids to settle down. At church the other day (I work with kids at church—but again really Mind Up is based on brain research—not religion, so obviously I teach this w/o any kind of religion involved), anyway during church when the kids came in we played ‘reverence tag’. The way it worked is one child was in the front being reverent and then chose someone who was reverent and they went up, then they looked for someone else being reverent. Crazy how quiet and reverent the kids were without me saying one thing. They totally calmed themselves down and they loved it. Yes, it would be nice if they just calmed themselves down without any kind of prompt. But if kids can learn to calm themselves, and enjoy actually doing it and want to do it…isn’t that great vs. an adult nagging them or having a behavior chart with rewards and punishments etc. Instead it’s fun and their intrinsically motivated. So I don’t know that we need the bell, but it’s the same kind of idea—taking a step back to calm yourself and refocus so you can pay attention to what a teacher or someone is trying to teach you, or to what you are trying to accomplish. A bell is just one way to accomplish this. A common example some teachers use at school is “if you can hear me touch your nose, if you can hear me touch your ears.”
As far as MindUp teaching kids to be non-judgmental, isn’t that a Christian value? It absolutely doesn’t mean we accept what is wrong. I have attached a sheet from the book to show examples of what is judgmental and nonjudgmental. Take a look. It’s things like eating food before making a judgement or not wearing an outfit just because your friend says you should. The program teaches us to think about others perspectives. It doesn’t mean we agree with their actions but we learn empathy. To consider others feelings and thoughts.
One of the quotes in this article says, “Directing, warning, correcting and disciplining day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, the adult encourages the child to do what is right, whether or not it feels good.”
Wow. I find that completely exhausting. Yes, we need to correct and discipline, but how much better when a child learns to control himself because they want to rather than me following them around hour by hour, moment by moment. That puts the child’s behavior in my hands and makes me responsible for how they behave. I’m sorry—it’s hard enough for me to control my own emotions and choices, let alone another person. That to me sounds more like brainwashing, because I am trying to control what that person does and how they should act 24/7. Actually it’s not possible. We cannot supervise a child 24/7 and if we do we become helicopter parents and there are all sorts of problems with that as they transition into adulthood. I would much rather a child learn how to control themselves and actually enjoy doing it! In fact kids are thrilled that they are choosing for themselves to listen and be in control and when they are upset realize they are upset but can use strategies to calm their amygdala down so their prefrontal cortex can work better and then they can be in control of their own actions. Sure saves a lot of power struggles. And the kids love realizing they are in control of themselves and don’t have to be a slave to raging emotions that can be obstacles in their lives causing them to be in trouble all the time.
Our emotions definitely serve a purpose. All of them. Unfortunately, because of many reasons, (many biological), our emotions can be way out of whack and cause us many problems. (Such as depression, anger outbursts, etc. etc.) Mind Up just teaches kids to look at their emotions and see if it is rational and learn strategies to manage it. So many people struggle with out of whack emotions. If we can teach these to our kids, just think how many problems can be avoided or at least eased.
MindUp is just one tool, in a set of tools as we seek to help our kids (and ourselves). Correcting, discipline, and values are also impo0rtant. Sometimes we may need medication, certain kinds of therapy etc. to help us. MindUp may not be for everyone, and not every child is a great fit for the class. However, many are, and it’s exciting to watch them be thrilled that they are getting into less trouble and focusing more at school and home and getting along better with others. Also many report that their anxiety has gone way down. Thanks again for voicing your concerns. I am glad you shared this with me so I can at least share my point of view and some of my experiences and thoughts. It is so great you are doing research. Too many people dive into things without doing that. If anyone wants any more information please ask away so you can make an informed decision. Another session is beginning in January for kids ages 8-14. Here is a link to the Peachtree City location: https://apm.activecommunities.com/peachtreecityrec/Activity_Search/friendship-craze-mind-up/8622
The Fayetteville location isn’t taking registrations yet but the class will be on Friday’s from 4:30-5:20..
I am a mother of 3. I have a passion for helping kids feel comfortable in their 'own skin'.