Bookmarked Psychodata (code acts in education)

Overall, what I’ve tried to show in the article is that SEL is a policy field in-the-making and that it remains inchoate and in some ways incoherent. We can understand it as a policy infrastructure that is being assembled from highly diverse elements, and that is centrally focused on the production of ‘psychodata’. In fact, the potential of a SEL policy infrastructure depends to a great extent on the creation of the data infrastructure required to produce policy-relevant knowledge. In other words, the generation of psycho-economic calculations is at the very core of current international policy interest in social-emotional learning, which is already relaying into classroom practices globally, governing teachers’ practices, and shaping the priorities of education systems to be focused on the enumeration of student emotions.

Ben Williamson disassembles the growing world of social and emotional learning in an article published in Journal of Education Policy. In it he makes six points:

  1. SEL needs to be understood as the product of a ‘psycho-economic’ fusion of psychological and economics expertise
  2. There are sets of moving relations among think tanks, philanthropies and campaigning coalitions which have been central to establishing SEL as an emerging policy field
  3. SEL is a site of considerable movement of money
  4. A huge industry of SEL products, consultancy and technologies has emerged, which has allowed SEL practices to proliferate through schools
  5. SELs enactment is contingent on local, regional and national priorities
  6. The OECD overtly brings together psychology and economics with their new test positioned as a way of calculating the contribution of social-emotional skills to ‘human capital

This has me rethinking the book Counting what Counts and my reflections:

It feels like the real question in need of answering isn’t what needs to be counted, but why? Although it might be useful to measure how interested we may be or our global awareness, what seems more important is what purpose does this actually achieve. In an age when counting seems to be a given and we only care about what we can count, the book it at least offers a vision about what we can measure.