“The first 5 years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out… Focussing on our youngest children is one of the smartest investments we can make in the future.”
BILL GATES, Business Magnate and Philanthropist
THINK EQUAL believes that the earlier we start the process of imparting social and emotional learning (SEL) to children, the greater the impact on lessening disaffection and discriminatory behaviour as the child grows into adolescence and beyond. Therefore, we are supplementing the crucial work being carried out by civil society organizations with youth-focused learning programs, with a fully comprehensive, formal SEL curriculum. And we are, crucially, starting this learning from the age of 3.
The early years children of today will of course become the youth, the parents, the leaders of tomorrow. If humane values are instilled as a foundation in their early years, through practised experiential learning, these children, transitioning into youths, will possess the emotional intelligence, empathy, critical thinking skills, gender sensitization, appreciation and celebration of diversity, self-regulation, and knowledge required to prevent them from causing damage or harm to themselves, their community and the world in which they live.
Neuroscience clearly defines the optimal window of cognitive modifiability (when change of attitudes and behaviour are highly effective due to development and flexibility of thinking) as being between the ages of 3 and 5; whilst there are undoubtedly further opportunities (notably in adolescence) for neuroplasticity of the brain, an early focus on Personal, Social and Emotional Learning provides the crucial preparation and foundation for the children to prosper as youths, and indeed in later life.
“Changes in the world call for the development of a new humanism that is not only theoretical but practical, that is not only focused on the search for values – which it must also be – but oriented towards the implementation of concrete programmes that have tangible results.”
A New Humanism for the 21st Century, Irina Bokova Director-General of UNESCO
We are determined to take tangible, concrete steps to implement the objectives we have all been talking about for more than 80 years, since the Geneva Convention on the Rights of the Child. So we have gathered together a formidable group of expert advisors and visionaries from across the world – experts in education, human rights, gender, psychology and neuroscience. Under their guidance, we are designing, constructing and delivering the world’s first SEL curriculum for a new subject which we are calling “Equality Studies”. We hope that as more schools experience the benefits of delivering this new social and emotional learning curriculum, educational policy makers will support its widespread adoption so that we can reach as many children as possible. If they ensure their children are holistically educated, they will surely disrupt the cycle of violence and discrimination within their countries, fulfil their commitments as member states of the UN to the Sustainable Development Goals and other programmes they have committed to, eg the World Programme for Human Rights Education (2004), and they will see their GDP soar and their countries prosper.
Social and Emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills associated with the core areas of social and emotional competency. It includes:
Self-Awareness: identifying and recognizing emotions; accurate self-perception; recognizing strengths, needs, and values; self-efficacy
Self-Regulation: impulse control and stress management; self-motivation and discipline; goal setting and organisational skills
Social Awareness: perspective taking; empathy; difference recognition; respect for others
Relationship Skills: communication, social engagement, and relationship building; working cooperatively; negotiation, refusal, and conflict management; help seeking
Responsible Decision-making: problem identification and situation analysis; problem solving; evaluation and reflection; personal, social, and ethical responsibility .
Social emotional learning (SEL) helps young students to:
• Build and maintain psychological resources
• Know themselves and their emotions, connect to others, engage in positive relationships,
• Make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly,
• Learn self-regulation and avoid negative behaviours
• Breaking down the gender stereotypes which patriarchal gender unequal societies have imposed upon girls and boys from the very start of their lives,
And helps girls in particular in:
• Engendering self-worth, confidence and the right to voice and agency,
• Transitioning these young girls into ambitious, empowered young women.