Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nurtured Heart

The Inner Wealth Initiative: 
The Nurtured Heart Approach for Educators
By: Tom Grove and Howard Glasser

One of my grad classes this fall was an ED PSY class on Social Emotional Learning, or SEL. I’ve heard those three letters thrown around a lot but I don’t think I had a clear understanding what they meant. After a semester in the class my own novice description was that SEL was, in my opinion, parenting in the classroom. And by parenting, I mean teaching your children to handle their emotions and make better choices.

To be fair, I don’t know that I am always the best parent. I know I try hard but I fail as much as I succeed. One thing I have always tried to do with my boys is talk. A lot. Everything has the potential to be a life lesson. Someone hurt their feelings at school – we discuss how they felt, how they handled it. They made a bad choice, same discussion. I hear that a former student is in trouble for whatever reason – we talk about it. So discussions are part of our everyday life. But the discussions are usually layered with a lesson and trying to name what they did well and, sometimes, what they could improve upon. It works for us.

Now, do I think every child I have ever taught has parents who have these discussions – or even the time to have them? No. And that’s where this book comes in. I first heard of The Nurtured Heart Approach from Susan Zola. Her husband was my professor in that ED PSY class. She is also a principal of a local middle school. She uses this approach. She came to a class to tell us about it. Essentially it boils down to using positive discussions with students to build their “inner wealth”. To me, this seems to boil down to their self-confidence. I think that is interesting.

I often hear people lament that “Susie” has a low self-confidence. If only their self-confidence was higher they would be better off, etc. But there isn’t much talk given to how to build that confidence. Is this a problem I see? Yes, I do see some kids lacking in inner wealth in my classrooms. Why has this happened? I think many kids don’t know what they are good at. Many parents are swamped and it is easier to do for our children than to teach them to do for themselves. Also, I wonder if the message that everyone is a winner (I’m looking at t-ball right now) and no one loses – might have something to do with this. I think kids today often don’t know what it is like to work hard at something. To be frustrated and have to keep working to find their answers. Will this program fix this? I don’t know, but am anxious to find out.

And I don’t want this program to give off the feeling that parents aren’t doing what they are “supposed to” or that kids are all bad. I think the majority of parents today are trying very hard, want the best for their kids, and are completely overwhelmed. I know I am. I would love for my school to use this program and work with parents so that we could be a team. But that is the future. Right now I am just planning on reading the book for the third time over the summer, hopefully with some educator friends, and see what we think. How about you? Have you heard of this program? If so, please share!