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How 5 Harvard i-lab Startups Are Rethinking Education

By Elaine Johanson, Senior Writer

We like measuring things. We like things that are easily measured. Whether it’s grades, test scores, or how long it takes a student to complete an assignment, this data offers a seemingly satisfying way to decide academic success.

But what determines a student’s actual success is not always so quantifiable. What also matters are how a student manages emotions, builds relationships, sets goals, and makes responsible decisions; in other words, the healthy mindsets and habits that make achievement possible. These so-called “soft skills” often set the course for a student’s success in school, outside of school, and in life.

While educators are starting to recognize the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL), incorporating it into curricula is not a one-size-fits-all task. SEL curricula needs to be sensitive to the culture and community around a school. Fortunately, a handful of i-lab ventures are finding ways to help schools incorporate SEL in ways that are tailored to their students’ needs.

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