Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

The Benefits of Intellectual and Emotional Learning

March 25, 2009

In this segment, education professor Christy Folsom talks about her new book on teaching for intellectual and emotional learning-- or "TIEL," and how to improve the quality of today's K to 12 education.

11 Minutes 26 Seconds

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This is Sarah Sumler, a student at Lehman College. In this segment, education professor Christy Folsom talks about her new book on teaching for intellectual and emotional learning-- or "TIEL," "T-I-E-L"-- and how to improve the quality of today's K to 12 education.



I'm Christy Folsom and I am Assistant Professor at Lehman College. I teach in the Graduate Childhood Education Department. I teach social studies, curriculum development, music curriculum development, student teaching seminars. And I supervise student teachers. And I work once a year with social studies for undergraduates.

My areas of expertise are teaching-- is teaching. And-- research is teaching and tracking the teaching to see the effectiveness of the teaching is what I'm doing while I'm here at Lehman. And that's what the book is based on, is teaching-- an intervention and then tracking to see the results of that.

Intellectual and emotional learning refers to the conscious teaching of thinking skills, teaching about thinking, helping people with meta cognition, which means to talk about their thinking, to be aware of their thinking, and be able to discuss and understand that.


And emotional learning is incorporating the teaching of social, emotional skills, qualities of character, into your curriculum, making that also explicit in what you are doing in the classroom, using content such as children's literature, any kind of literature where you can discuss the character traits-- decisions people make, the ethical reasoning that is either present or not present.

The TIEL model helps teachers become aware of all this. They understand and know that-- and even want to be teaching like this, but it's a matter of becoming aware of it and having some concrete ways to incorporate that into your curriculum.

And there's a great lack of ability to think in our world and a great lack of ethical reasoning, which has put us in some of the political situations, financial situations that we find ourself in. We need to be preparing our students to do better. They need to be understanding how you make decisions. How do you make plans? How do you make decisions that are ethical? What does that mean? To become more aware of that so that perhaps w-- they can do better as adults than we have.


Right now, we have such an emphasis on testing. And one of the subjects that's most important and one of the best subjects to teach intellectual and emotional learning within, is social studies. And in the New York City schools, there's many, many schools that are not even teaching social studies at all.

And so it helps people see another way of looking at, "Why do we need to teach these things?" On the TIEL model-- mentions appreciation for the arts and creative thinking. That's something that we're not having time to do in school. And we need to know that it's important and make time for that. And this is a visual reminder of that.

Much of my teaching time, before I came to Lehman and before I got a doctorate at Teachers College so that I could teach teachers in a college setting, was spent in gifted education. And in special education, I have a master's degree in teaching the deaf. And I also have spent many years, the majority of my teaching, teaching in gifted programs.


And I noticed that in the special ed, which was some long time ago when I was teaching the deaf, that there was a lot of talk and discussion of using thinking and teaching thinking skills to facilitate the teaching of language. And when I went-- became interested in gifted education, again, there was the emphasis on thinking. And later on, they became very interested in that field in social emotional learning.

What I noticed and what I had already noticed a long time ago was that in the general education classroom there wasn't that emphasis on thinking. And that got me very interested in trying to figure out how it could be made more accessible to all teachers.

The TIEL model has ten components to it. One is the getting of information, cognition. Memory, being able to make connections to yourself, to things that you read, to your experiences. Evaluation, which is about making decisions-- being able to set criteria, understand why you're making the decisions as you are.


Planning-- self-evaluating. It's also about convergent thinking, which is one right answer, of which we have no shortage in school. Much of it's about that. And creative thinking, divergent thinking, where there's many options and you're encouraging kids to take risks and to think in original ways.

That is in short supply in many classrooms right now as we emphasize testing. But it's been in short supply, anyway. And if it's there, it's not as conscious as it should be. And the-- reflection pieces, the emotional pieces of reflection, helping our kids be quiet and just reflect and think about what something means to them.

Empathy, being kind to other people, caring about other people, yourself, and also caring about your work. Ethical reasoning, we've already talked about that, but of being fair and honest in your decisions. And then the area of mastery, feeling that you can master something, that you are able to accomplish it. And achieving an appreciation, which is to appreciate the many things around us.


When you can tell that those are not there, when there are kids calling each other names, they're being mean to each other, when teachers are yelling and being, you know, not as kind to the students as possibly as needed, when everything is about worksheets and one right answer, when thing-- when things are too narrow. And this encourages teachers to do projects. And the book is about teaching how you do that. How do you teach these skills through project work in a very concrete way?

Part of the issues are kids who are not motivated. Why are they not motivated? Because maybe they feel they can't do the work. They've been made to feel they can't, absolutely can't do the work. Or they're very advanced students and the work is not meeting their needs, 'cause they could go much faster.

And so they are unmotivated. So it's a matter of helping the students of all levels be able to get more invested in their work themselves, to work at their level, but how do you manage that in a classroom? And that's what the book's about.


One of the things that motivates kids is to make their own decisions, have some choice in what they do. And project work is a great place for that to happen. Because a project is bigger than a worksheet. It has places to make decisions.

It gives the teacher an opportunity to help kids think through how you make a decision, how do you think. You know, what are the things I need to consider? A project is big enough for the students to learn how to plan. And when they plan, they can see that they can get from A to B by planning what they're doing, following it and getting there. And so it's very empowering.

This book came about because first of all, the experiences that I mentioned before-- as-- and when I was teaching-- talented and gifted students and then had to become as consultant in the general classrooms. At that same time, I was tea-- I took a fifth grade classroom so that I could see if all the things that we had worked with, gifted education would work with the larger span of kids in a regular classroom.


And, of course, it did. It-- it worked wonderfully well. Those who struggle were motivated by being able to make decisions and put together projects and learn at their level, while those who were much advanced could take that same project on another-- in another topic and go farther with it.

It was that noticing of the need to make this accessible. The thing that is written about in book after book after book in gifted education and in special education, and also even in general education books more and more, but the fundamental infrastructure still is not there that would help teachers really understand the core principles that need to be understood to make this happen.

The more I teach, and now that I'm teaching teachers, I see absolutely that this is necessary to help them understand that core infrastructure so that when they go out to teach they don't ever go back to the way they were taught.


I'm very impressed with the teachers I'm teaching who go out to student teach in that they're able to make much more sophisticated curriculum, have a much more sophisticated approach to instruction than-- others who don't have this. And that is not, like, researched out yet. But their comments that they get back as well, "You ask great questions." You know, they're doing very sophisticated things as student teachers. And they understand what they're doing.

One of the things that you had mentioned was-- you know-- examples of the teaching method and the outcomes. And that's actually what the book is about is my work with four teachers in the New York City Public Schools with this model, focusing on the evaluation piece, which is making decisions, planning, helping students self-evaluate through project work.

And so that's-- this book tells how they went from not understanding how to do that, and in some cases not even wanting to do that, and how they gradually grew into it and how much their teaching changed and how much they didn't really want to go back to the other kind of teaching.



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