Whole Child Education: The Era of False Choices Needs to End

Whole Child Education: The Era of False Choices Needs to End
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP

As educators and advocates, there are many topics on which we, the authors, disagree. Despite our differences though, we are aligned on perhaps the most urgent challenge in K-12 schooling today―the need for schools and communities to embrace children as individuals and future citizens, and ensure that they don't feel like test-taking cogs in a bureaucratic enterprise.

This week, the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released recommendations to help schools and communities do just that, by helping students feel safe at school; cultivating traits like responsibility and perseverance; developing an emotional foundation for academic success; and teaching students to respect and listen to one another in the face of differences.

This embrace of social, emotional, and academic learning is a moment of opportunity. Done wisely and well, it's an opportunity to translate growing knowledge about how people learn into real-world practices that benefit students. It's an opportunity to focus on values and student needs that matter deeply to parents and unite Americans across the ideological spectrum—things like integrity, empathy, and responsible decision making.

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