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Teaching for Intellectual and Emotional Learning (TIEL): A Model for Creating Powerful Curriculum

reviewed by Maurice J. Elias - August 14, 2009

coverTitle: Teaching for Intellectual and Emotional Learning (TIEL): A Model for Creating Powerful Curriculum
Author(s): Christy Folsom
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 1578868734, Pages: 264, Year: 2008
Search for book at Amazon.com

The intellectual and social-emotional demands of our rapidly changing world require that educators traverse new teaching terrain. Students from elementary to graduate school need to develop a wide range of intellectual skills that have often received limited attention in classrooms.  These include the self-organization skills of decision making, planning, problem solving, creative thinking, and self-directed research, as well as the ability to search and use their memories. At the same time, compassion, social responsibility, and ethics need to be taught and nurtured…. Learning these intellectual skills and social-emotional characteristics is no longer optional. In the world in which our students are being educated, this topography can no longer be left only to that rare teacher who seems to naturally incorporate the deeper intellectual and social-emotional aspect of learning into his or her teaching. All teachers and their students need access to fundamental knowledge that can promote thinking and emotional learning. (p. 31)

This epiphany, now being shared by what seems to be a geometrically increasing number of educators, sparked the author, Christy Folsom, to develop a model (Teaching for Intellectual and Emotional Learning - TIEL) to bring that knowledge to teachers because it had been lacking in their training. (Those responsible for the education and preparation of those who will work in schools have been slow to realize that the above paragraph now reflects the emerging, empirically supported standard of practice.) This book is, in essence, a version of Folsom’s dissertation and represents her intellectual and practical journey toward creating TIEL as a curriculum design model, followed by case studies of four teachers implementing aspects of the model under the author’s supervision in two elementary-level schools in Manhattan.

The conceptual core of TIEL comes from Guilford’s Structure of Intellect model and the work of John Dewey, though there is a review of other intellectual influences on her thinking, no doubt a credit to her graduate program’s curriculum. TIEL focuses on five Qualities of Character (also called social-emotional processes) (Reflection, Empathy, Ethical Reasoning, Mastery, Appreciation) and five Thinking Operations (Cognition, Memory, Evaluation, Convergent Production, Divergent Production) and arrays them in a wheel with between four and eight subskills for each Quality and Operation that students need to learn.  For example, under Appreciation, one finds love of art, music, nature; recognizing beauty; knowledge and respect of culture, and diversity; under Evaluation, there is self-management, critical thinking, analysis, comparison, setting/using criteria, decision making, planning, and assessment. While these are presented as skills needed by children, they are also clearly skills needed by educators to engage in the kind of complex approaches to teaching that “integrate intellectual and social-emotional aspects of learning” so that children “can make ethical decisions, show empathy to fellow human beings, and appreciate the differences of others” (p. 32).  

The first two chapters in the book provide elaboration of the conceptual model, and then the remaining chapters use case study examples to illustrate the way in which Folsom helped four teachers understand and implement elements of TIEL in their classrooms using project-based learning. There are a number of helpful rubrics and worksheets provided to guide students in project planning, knowledge gathering, decision-making, and evaluation.

A Voyage of Parallel Discovery: The Wider World of Social-Emotional and Character Development in Schools

Most striking about this book is what it does not mention: the extraordinary proliferation of work in social-emotional learning and character development theory and school-based practice over the past 15 years. The existence of such books as Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators (Elias, Zins, Weissberg, et al., 1997), and The Educator’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement: Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom (Elias & Arnold, 2006), the work of Carolyn Saarni (2007) on emotional competence, Peter Salovey, John Mayer (Mayer & Salovey, 1997), and Reuven Bar-On (2003) on emotional intelligence, and, of course Daniel Goleman’s catalytic world-wide best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence (1995) (and its follow up volumes) would not be discernible from this book.  

That the author felt compelled to create TIEL reflects, at least in part, bifurcations of knowledge between the field of education and those related professions that seek to ally with and inform the education process, and between educator preparation and the realities of education practice in schools. Would Folsom have needed to do what she did if she knew about the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.CASEL.org) and its 2002 publication, Safe and Sound? Based on a three-year study funded by the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) in the U.S. Department of Education, Safe and Sound reviewed 80 multiyear, developmental social-emotional learning (SEL) programs designed for use in K-12 classrooms. Each was rated according to its coverage of five essential SEL skill areas (covering those contained in TIEL but with others not included therein, especially around development of emotional competencies), well-designed evaluations demonstrating effectiveness, and high-quality professional development. Twenty-two of the programs were designated as SELect programs and each of these has a strong conceptual base, extensive support materials, and some infrastructure to support dissemination with fidelity. Many of these programs have materials that are the equivalent of most of what the author presented as part of TIEL, with the exception that they have been subjected to empirical test and validation.

A further, related story can be told about the work of the Character Education Partnership and its designation of Schools of Character (www.character.org), the Center for Social-Emotional Education and its focus on school climate (www.csee.net), the George Lucas Education Foundation and its extraordinary effort to capture video examples and multimedia support materials around SECD, character education, project based learning, and service learning (www.edutopia.org), the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Whole Child Education paradigm as an alternative to No Child Left Behind legislation (www.wholechildeducation.org), and multiyear state-based efforts such as that in New Jersey to develop scalable models to integrate diverse approaches to social-emotional and character development (SECD) within schools, to create essential synergy between academic learning, SECD, and school climate (www.teachSECD.com). Publications are now emerging that reflect the need for schools to take an integrative, longitudinal, systemic view of preparing students for participatory and contributory roles in their classrooms, schools, families, workplaces, communities, and in civic life (Cohen, 2006; Dunkelblau, 2009; Elias, Parker, Kash, & Dunkelblau, 2007; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004).  

Folsom asks, “How can the thinking operations and qualities of character found in the TIEL model be made less abstract and more accessible to teachers and students in the classroom?” (p. 45). The answer, on one foot, is by systematically integrating SECD into the preparation of all educators (teachers, administrators, student support staff, and others) and into the professional development offerings of national and state-level professional organizations and associations to which educators and educational policy makers (e.g., school board members) belong, by ensuring educators are knowledgeable about empirically supported SECD curriculum materials and how to integrate them with academic learning, and by recognizing that building SECD in children must be the focus of continuous, coordinated, curriculum-based, comprehensive attention from P-12 with a whole-school (not program-centered) approach that engages parents and the surrounding community. Every educator should not have to create a framework that recognizes the relational nature of learning and the role of emotion in the learner (and educator) or discover it after years in the classroom. We are at a point in education where the well-intentioned and well-informed efforts of individual educators in schools are necessary but not sufficient. Only through coordination and teamwork, akin to what happens in a hospital surgery room, on a sports team, or in a work group, can we create the synergy and indivisibility needed for the whole of education to be greater than the sum of its parts and for all of our students to be well-prepared for the challenges that await them while they are in school, and beyond.


Bar-On, R. (2003). How important is it to educate people to be emotionally and socially intelligent, and can it be done? Perspectives in Education, 21(4), 3-16.

Cohen, J. (2006).  Social, emotional, ethical, and academic education: Creating a climate for learning, participation in democracy, and well-being. Harvard Education Review, 76(2), 201-237.

Dunkelblau, E. (2009).  Social-emotional and character development: A laminated resource card for teachers, for students, for parents. Port Chester, NY: National Professional Resources (www.nprinc.com).

Elias, M. J., & Arnold, H. A. (Eds.) (2006). The educator’s guide to emotional intelligence and academic achievement: Social-emotional learning in the classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Elias, M. J., Parker, S. J., Kash, V. M., & Dunkeblau, E. (2007). Socioemotional learning and character and moral education in children: Synergy or fundamental divergence in our schools? Journal of Research in Character Education, 5 (2), 167–182.


Elias, M. J., Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Frey, K., Greenberg, M., Haynes, N., Kessler, R., Schwab-Stone, M., & Shriver, T. (1997). Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Doubleday.

Mayer, J.D., & Salovey, P.(1997). What is emotional intelligence: In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications for educators (pp. 3-31). New York: Basic Books.

Saarni, C.  (2007). The development of emotional competence: Pathways for helping children to become emotionally intelligent. In R. Bar-On, J. G. Maree, & M. J. Elias (Eds.), Educating people to be emotionally intelligent (pp. 15-36).  Westport, CT: Praeger.

Zins, J.E., Weissberg, R.P., Wang, M.C., & Walberg, H.J. (Eds.). (2004). Building school success through social and emotional learning: Implications for practice and research. New York: Teachers College Press.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 14, 2009
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15751, Date Accessed: 5/27/2022 11:04:29 AM

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About the Author
  • Maurice Elias
    Rutgers University
    MAURICE J. ELIAS, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Psychology Department at Rutgers University, Academic Director of the Rutgers Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships program, Coordinator of the Internship Program in Applied, School, & Community Psychology, and Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab. Recent publications include The Educatorís Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement: Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom (Corwin Press, 2006), and Urban Dreams: Stories of Hope, Character, and Resilience (2008, Hamilton Books). His most recent project is the development of a set of on-line courses at Rutgers leading to credentials in Social-Emotional and Character Development instruction and coordination.
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