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In order to learn something new, looking at something from a different perspective can shed some light. Today we are going to “See the world through a different lens” specifically with a new look at “Transformative SEL.”[i]

Watch this interview on YouTube here https://youtu.be/dY28tux0tq8

On this episode you will learn:

✔ How Jason Littlefield and Erec Smith of EmpowerED created a Framework for SEL when they noticed something was missing with Transformative SEL.

✔ How they envision empowering educators, youth and communities by strengthening the neural pathways to peace and resilience through mindfulness and social and emotional learning.

✔How you can work with Jason and Erec with their mission.

For returning guests, welcome back, and for those who are new here, I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator, with a passion for learning, understanding difficult concepts, and breaking them down so that we can all use and apply the most current research to improve our productivity and results in our schools, sports environments, and modern workplaces. On today’s EPISODE #222 we are going to look at SEL through a different lens with the work of Jason Littlefield and Erec Smith from EmpowerED Humanity[ii] whose work established in 2017 to provide educators, students, and communities a framework for life, leadership, and learning, focuses on fortifying the individual and increasing societal cooperation with a value-centered identity, human dignity, disrupting mindsets of fear/judgment with inquiry and compassion.

 Their Work Has 3 Pathways of Practice That:

  • Build awareness and equanimity (mental calmness)
  •  Kindness and compassion towards self and others and
  • Celebrate common humanity, breaking the walls of indignity (or that treatment that causes one to feel shameful).

I spoke with Jason prior to our interview, as I know that the podcast guests I have chosen over the past 3 years have been addressing SEL as it relates to our brain and learning, but there was something missing that became apparent to me as we have not yet discussed diversity, equity and inclusion that are all important components of social and emotional learning.

THEIR MISSION[iii]

Empowering educators, youth and communities by strengthening the neural pathways to peace and resilience through mindfulness and social and emotional learning.

Their framework, Empowered Humanity Theory focuses on fortifying the individual and increasing societal cooperation by centering a value-centered identity, human dignity, disrupting mindsets of fear/judgment with inquiry and compassion, and intentionally engaging in 3 Pathways of Practice:

  • Practices that build awareness and equanimity
  • Practices that build kindness and compassion towards self and others
  • Practices that celebrate common humanity, and break the walls of indignity

That also includes 3 Attitudes:

1) Establishing a value-centered identity

2) Cultivating mindsets of inquiry/compassion over fear & judgment

3) Navigating self and others with a dignity lens.

They believe this framework fills a gap that we need at this moment to inspire us to empower humanity and affect the wellbeing of future generations in profound ways. It’s up to us to make the shift.

Let’s meet Jason Littlefield and Erec Smith, and dive into their Framework to view SEL through the lens of human dignity and our shared humanity, to see where we could expand our awareness and close any existing gaps.

INTRO: Welcome Jason and Erec, thank you for coming on the podcast today. Jason, when I saw your email and noticed how long you worked as an SEL Specialist, I thought that there must be something that you noticed was missing with the way that SEL was being implemented into our schools, and like we said in our email correspondence, your vision to empower humanity and affect the wellbeing of future generations in profound ways is important and timely.

Before we begin with our questions to dive into this topic, I’ve got to say first that I was a bit nervous to do this interview, mostly because this is a topic that I’ve not yet covered on the podcast. I know this is important, and before this interview, I was listening to one of my mentors, Dr. Jeff Rose, a former Superintendent from Atlanta, GA cover the topic of Equity Based Leadership on his most recent podcast and his guest, Joshua Starr, author of the book Equity-Based Leadership: Leveraging Complexity to Transform School Systems mentioned that “equity and social justice are an integral part of any school system’s agenda” (Joshua Starr).

Can we begin here, and have both of you share what drew you to create a NEW Framework to look at SEL through the lens of human dignity and our shared humanity? How does this relate to an equity-based transformation strategy? What did you notice?

Can we look at your solution or the EmpowerED Pathways Approach to SEL? How did you come up with your framework?

3 Pathways of Practice:

  • Practices that build awareness and equanimity
  • Practices that build kindness and compassion towards self and others
  • Practices that celebrate common humanity, and break the walls of indignity

That also includes 3 Attitudes:

1) Establishing a value-centered identity

2) Cultivating mindsets of inquiry/compassion over fear & judgment

3) Navigating self and others with a dignity lens.

Q1: What would be some examples of the OLD WAY vs THE NEW WAY that prevents flawed thinking?

Q2: Who have you shared your model with and what do they say? Have you had any pushback with your “humanity centered framework?”  What are people saying?

Q3: What would be some entry points for schools to begin implementing your framework?

For people to learn more about your work, is the best place your website www.empoweredpathways.org?

UPCOMING EVENTS: https://www.empoweredpathways.org/fourthwave-antiracism/progress-4ward-advancing-21st-century-antiracism-with-fourth-wave-antiracism-development-fward

Jason Littlefield, M.Ed

Jason Littlefield is an educator passionate about personal well-being establishing a society of individuals at peace within themselves and others. He established EmpowerED Pathways in 2017 and co-designed the Empowered Humanity Theory; a framework for life, leadership, and learning. He served as a public educator for twenty-one years in multiple capacities.  From 2014 to 2021 he was a Social and Emotional Learning Specialist for the Austin Independent School District. Jason has also served students and families from around the world, including Taiwan, China, and Benin, Africa. He is an advocate for decreasing our current human division and increasing personal well-being by bringing awareness to the impact and intent of the emerging ideology dominating our institutions and permeating the zeitgeist. He does so through EmpowerED Pathways, Free Black Thought, and The Institute for Liberal Values.

Erec Smith, Ph.D.

Erec Smith is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric at York College of Pennsylvania. Although he has eclectic scholarly interests, Smith’s primary focuses on the rhetorics of anti-racist activism, theory, and pedagogy. He is a co-founder of Free Black Thought, an organization dedicated to highlighting viewpoint diversity within the black intelligentsia. Smith is a member and moderator for Heterodox Academy and sits on the Board of Advisors for both the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism and Counterweight, an organization that advocates for liberal concepts of social justice. In his latest book, A Critique of Anti-racism in Rhetoric and Composition: The Semblance of Empowerment, Smith addresses the detriments of anti-racist rhetoric and writing pedagogy based on identity and prefigurative politics and suggests that a more empowering form of anti-racism be considered.

Access Erec Smith’s book A Critique of Anti-Racism in Rhetoric and Composition  https://www.amazon.com/Critique-Anti-racism-Rhetoric-Composition-Empowerment/dp/1498590403

REFERENCES:

[i] Transformative SEL https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/how-does-sel-support-educational-equity-and-excellence/transformative-sel/

[ii] EmpowerED Pathways https://www.empoweredpathways.org/empoweredhumanitytheory

[iii] https://www.empoweredpathways.org/about