Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids - StamfordAdvocate

Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids - StamfordAdvocate:

Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids

 Photo: Donna Grethen
Current education policy focuses on a failed strategy of school and district “turnarounds;” characterized by staff shake-ups and pedagogical practices that focus narrowly on raising test scores. This reform has been the Malloy Administration’s approach to school “improvement” since 2012. The evidence demonstrates that turnarounds produce at best temporary small increases in test scores, but at the high cost of destabilizing schools and communities in the long run.
While policymakers stubbornly pursue this dead end, they ignore evidence from science and educational practice pointing to methods that result in long-lasting improvements in both academic and life outcomes, especially for at-risk children.
A recent article in the science magazine, Mosaic, described a longitudinal study of children in Hawaii that examined why some at-risk children develop significant problems while others do not. The researchers found that for the one-third of at-risk children who did not develop problems, positive relationships, whether in the context of a community or one adult, were key. Even those who engaged in risky behavior as teens were able to turn their lives around with the help of a personal connection.
One of the researchers observed that resilience, often described as a trait, is instead an adaptive process; one that is helped by relationships.
Education reformers misread resilience as a trait they like to call “grit,” and consequently develop misguided policies such as the recent announcement by the federal government that the National Assessment of Educational Progress will create a standardized test to determine whether children have “grit.”
Understanding resilience the way these scientists have come to understand it would lead to a focus on more successful educational policies. Consistent with what science has discovered, it turns out that school programs and policies that promote the development of relationships are the ones that provide long-term educational and life benefits, especially to disadvantaged children.
It stands to reason that school mechanisms promoting a personal connection improve learning as well as social development. Neuroscientists have found that the brain does not recognize a sharp distinction between cognitive, social and motor functions. Consequently, research has shown that feelings of social isolation impair key cognitive abilities involved in learning.
Though they require substantial initial investments, educational policies that foster relationships save money in the long run.
Developmentally-appropriate preschool, with an emphasis on play, enables children to acquire the skills necessary to form healthy relationships. There is near universal consensus that quality preschool benefits children, increasing the chance of Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids - StamfordAdvocate:

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION
EduBloggers

Latest News and Comment from Education