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Blumenthal Promotes Social, Emotional Skills Education Funding

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is promoting legislation he’s proposed that would allow U.S. Department of Education funding to go to training teachers about how to teach social and emotional skills. Those skills involve caring for others, making good decisions, and settling conflicts.

“Teachers who face conflicts among students in their classrooms need to learn how to teach those skills that help students resolve their conflicts peacefully,” Blumenthal said.

Christopher Kukk was at one of those discussions in New Haven on Monday. Kukk trains teachers how to teach their students social and emotional skills.

When teachers read a book to the class, they can choose one that deals with the feelings and emotions of multiple characters. Kukk said the teachers can then show students how those character express empathy toward each other.

“It’s actually to point that out, not only that you as a person have self-awareness of how you’re feeling, but someone else may have different feelings about the same exact subject that you’re in, and different types of books actually explain that,” he said.

For example, Kukk says reading about a fight can get kids to talk about their feelings if they were in a fight, and help them understand the effect they have on the feelings of others.

Blumenthal’s legislation is in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it’s named after Jesse Lewis, one of the victims of the shooting. Blumenthal says young people need to be taught how to empathize and communicate with each other, so they have tools to solve problems without violence.

The proposed legislation passed the Senate last month as part of a wide-ranging education bill. But it wasn’t included in a version of the education bill passed by the House of Representatives. Right now, both the House and Senate are trying to come up with a bill that resolves the differences between the two versions.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.
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