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This article explores the historical, philosophical, curricular, and practical methods of the Japanese auto-biographical method, “seikatusu tsuzurikata” and its implementation in a US elementary school. Seikatsu tsuzurikata is a progressive form of journaling that “provokes students to ‘objectively’ observe the reality surrounding them in terms of their own senses without any intervention of anyone else’s authority”, by writing essays “reflecting on their social situation” (Asanuma, 1986: pp. 153, 155). Part of life writing’s central philosophy is that students are not required to participate. For students who engaged in life writing, several benefits resulted, according to their teachers. However, we found that students had great difficulty articulating their social and emotional worlds because this kind of reflective work was uncomfortable and foreign to students who were subjected to teacher-driven, “content”, and “standards based” instruction. This article concludes by exploring the possibility of connecting life writing with social-emotional learning (SEL).