Social-Emotional Learning, Mediated by Race/Class (Janan)

Davidon’s chapter on community college struck a chord with me because, 11 months into a global terror, I’ve been reflecting and re-evaluating my decision to move 6 hours away from home for college. I’d be wondering what it would’ve been like if I had stayed at a community college locally. Although my recent thoughts have been more about how this would’ve affected me socially/emotionally, it’s clear that the nurturing academics of community college offer students a tailored way to achieve their goals in school as well. But Davidson’s article also touches on the ways going to a community college change the social makeup. It seems like these social differences would also make a remarkable difference in one’s social learning. 

I obviously didn’t end up choosing a community college. I went to a fairly selective liberal arts college instead, which was academically enriching in so many ways that have shaped my personality, but I do think about how this affecting my emotional learning, going to school with a huge majority of wealthy, White New Englanders, rather than people who more accurately fit my demographic. However, my high school seemed similar to community college – it was a local school (although private) whose mission statement was to adapt to students’ diverse learning styles, which catapulted me from a B-average insecure middle schooler, the only non-Christian in a prestigious Georgetown Catholic school, to a student who loved to learn and succeeded in my courses. 

It’s interesting to me how much of the American ideal of college is rooted in leaving your parents’ home(s) at age 18 and dorming with other peers. Davidson’s article, although focused primarily on the quality of education, made me introspect about the effects on an individual/child’s social/emotional growth as well. 

Anthony Jack’s reading on the privileged poor was another article that stuck with me. As expected of a NESCAC school, my college was just like that – there were a lot of 1%-ers. Jack said it succinctly, “These rich kids had their own version of summer. In my family, summer was just a season.” Jack’s descriptions of the doubly disadvantaged, the privileged poor, and the extremely wealthy made me immediately think about the pandemic, because that’s what happens with everything nowadays. The glimpses into lives of the extremely wealthy through social media made me realizes the extent that wealth completely cushions this global tragedy (working from home, vacation homes, multiple cars, access to healthcare, etc). 

Jack’s descriptions of the ways that different classes interact yet remain in a hegemonic relationship where the poor is constantly dispossessed was incredibly infuriating and disheartening to read about. Yet, his descriptions of the ways that systemic changes can accommodate one’s dispossessions opened a new door for me to think about a topic that seems so pervasive and undefeatable (racial capitalism, neoliberalism, segregation). 

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