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The Promise of Social and Emotional Learning in U.S. Schools

For the eighth grader Kimberly Wilborn, a lesson about Nelson Mandela made it all click.

“Ms. Plante was talking about Nelson Mandela and how he forgave his jailers,” remembers Wilborn, who is being raised by her aunt on Chicago’s South Side. “And I thought if he can forgive them, I can forgive my birth mom and my dad for not being there for me. I actually cried. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

Megan Plante isn’t Wilborn’s history teacher. She was using Mandela’s story to teach what is known around Perspectives Charter Schools as ADL—A Disciplined Life. The class—part advisory, part ethics class—is meant to impart 26 principles, including generosity, peaceful conflict resolution, and compassion.