Frameworks for Social Emotional Literacy

As part of my coursework for the Academy, I was looking through the training manual. I found a reference to “NVC/Imago.” I had never heard of Imago before, so I looked it up and saw it is a Social Emotional Learning curriculum for children.

I know NVC seems to be the most popular tool for promoting empathy around these parts, but I’ve also personally experienced and heard other people give similar accounts how, especially in the US, the way NVC is taught and implemented a lot of the time reinforces rather than challenges pre-existing systems of oppression. There also seems to be a trap where people become fixated with “being good at doing NVC” and so instead of trying to dismantle the ways that we internally judge people, the judgement systems shift to place moralistic value on displaying skills at communicating a certain way and placing heavy stigma on people who don’t communicate in that way. As a result, there’s a lot of spaces where it feels dangerous to even bring up NVC as an option, because for people who have had bad experiences with it, suggesting using it can often sound to them like “You’re going to continue to refuse to listen to what I have to say and won’t acknowledge that it hurts to feel unheard while insisting that you’re a good listener and telling me it’s my fault for not using the right words.”

I’ve read Decolonizing NVC by Meenadchi, which I found to be a really valuable resource, but doesn’t mitigate the negative association that many people have already experienced from exposure to other implementations fo NVC.

I’ve done a very small amount of googling around Social Emotional Literacy since discovering Imago, and it looks like there’s courses for all ages out there of different frameworks, some of which seem to more directly and intentionally address the ways social emotional learning tools should be used to help address inequity, but I’ve gotten overwhelmed by it all pretty quickly and find myself not really able to do meaningful analysis on any of these options. One of the pages I think I want to go back to look at in more depth when I can take in the information is

I’m curious if people have experiences with other frameworks that they might recommend to me or advise me against, to add more tools to my toolbox, or thoughts on how to address tension that many people experience at the idea of using NVC.

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