Education: Learning to Rise above Poverty 19
in order to provide an effective learning environment for all students and if the social-emotional approach has proven to be successful at improving social skills as well as academic achievement for low-achieving, low-income students, then it could only be beneficial to all students.
Education should not be based on test scores and funding. It should be based on the welfare of children and the future of society. No Child Left Behind appeared to have good intentions, and not many will argue that we should not have highly qualified teachers and hold school districts accountable for student learning, but at what cost? Thus far, achievement and accountability have overshadowed appropriate practice, including the much needed social and emotional aspects of development. Children not only need to learn how to read and write, but they also need to learn how to be social beings and function in society. If a child typically spends 20,000 hours of life in the presence of teachers, then why should they not have, at least an equal (or greater), influence on the child as the societal, family, and cultural influences have? Teachers can make a difference in the lives of their students and implementing effective pedagogical practices can enable them to do so. Teachers should recognize the importance of taking on the many roles required to be a successful teacher and always do what is best for the students of whom they are in charge. The teacher’s actions and behaviors in the classroom will shape the students into the citizens of tomorrow. They should not only be taught the educational material and skills needed to succeed in life, but they should also learn how to be socially competent. “Social skills allow one to adapt and respond to the expectations of society” (Vaughn, Bos, & Schumm, 2003). In order to be a successful, independent member of society, one must learn social skills from others. Teachers and