Thomas Edsall is an opinion columnist for the New York Times who often writes about the intersection of inequality and politics. His articles typically synthesize research findings and the perspectives of experts, whose commentary he frequently quotes. His latest piece, “What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?” discusses the important role of non-cognitive skills and character strengths in social mobility.
Edsall draws on the work on numerous researchers to show the links between income, maternal education, and family stability, on the one hand, and non-cognitive skills on the other. As he concludes,
“The result is a vicious circle: family disruption perpetuates disadvantage by creating barriers to the development of cognitive and noncognitive skills, which in turn sharply reduces access to college. The lack of higher education decreases life chances, including the likelihood of achieving adequate material resources and a stable family structure for the next generation.”
Edsall highlights Paul Tough’s work on the importance of environments in which children feel a sense of belonging and growth and experience relatedness and competence. He challenges policymakers, and Democrats in particular, to find ways to support family stability and “capitalize on the ample supply of character strengths evident among America’s poor.”
New York Times: “What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?”
“It’s hard to see a child unhappy. Whether a child is crying over the death of a pet or the popping of a balloon, our instinct is to make it better, fast.
That’s where too many parents get it wrong, says the psychologist Susan David, author of the book ‘Emotional Agility.’ Helping a child feel happy again may offer immediate relief for parent and child, but it doesn’t help a child in the long term.
‘How children navigate their emotional world is critical to lifelong success,’ she said.
Research shows that when teachers help preschoolers learn to manage their feelings in the classroom, those children become better problem solvers when faced with an emotional situation, and are better able to engage in learning tasks. In teenagers, ’emotional intelligence,’ or the ability to recognize and manage emotions, is associated with an increased ability to cope with stressful situations and greater self-esteem. Some research suggests that a lack of emotional intelligence can be used to predict symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
New York Times: https://go.edc.org/yxke
A great article about how New Bedford, MA has come together to support a focused Birth–3rd strategy. Thanks to Titus DosRemedios and Strategies for Children for laying it out so clearly and compellingly (and for the kind mention). Titus has also been a key contributor to New Bedford’s Partnership. It has been very inspiring to see New Bedford embrace this work. The district and the community have brought great ideas and experience to the table, and we are seeing the results in a concerted program of on-the-ground activity this fall.
Also of note, emerging out of this work is a deepening and very promising partnership between the New Bedford Public Schools and the Housing Authority. With district support, the Housing Authority is expanding and developing the educational components of its after-school programs. District teachers and “resident service coordinators” from the Housing Authority will meet regularly to discuss the children they share in common; resident service coordinators are participating in the district’s early literacy professional development, which also includes both district and community-based prekindergarten teachers; and the district’s literacy coach is advising the Housing Authority on program design, book purchases, and other aspects of the after-school program.
Eye on Early Education reports on Massachusetts’ new Social and Emotional Learning Standards:
The standards explain: “As Preschool children enter group settings, they engage in a growing circle of deepening relationships with adults and peers outside of the family, and move from self-focused activity to participation in groups. They develop a growing set of skills with guidance and meaningful feedback from caring adults, including skills in developing friendships, following rules and routines, playing in a group, resolving conflicts, sharing, and taking turns, along with essential dispositions for learning.”
The benefits for children could be huge. As PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff reported during the summer: “In a report released today, researchers tracked more than 700 children from kindergarten to age 25. They found students’ social skills, like cooperation, listening to others and helping classmates, held strong clues for how those children would fare two decades later. In some cases, social skills may even be better predictors of future success than academic ones.”
Carol Dweck, renowned Stanford professor and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” offers important advice about the hard work of promoting growth mindsets. Be sure to see her discussion of the growth mindset being about more than sheer effort and the helpful graphic at the end.
From the article:
… a few years back, I published my book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to share these discoveries with educators. And many educators have applied the mindset principles in spectacular ways with tremendously gratifying results.
This is wonderful, and the good word continues to spread. But as we’ve watched the growth mindset become more popular, we’ve become much wiser about how to implement it. This learning—the common pitfalls, the misunderstandings, and what to do about them—is what I’d like to share with you, so that we can maximize the benefits for our students.
A new study shows that kindergarten teachers’ ratings of social competence strongly predict important adult outcomes. The study has received much attention in the popular press, including a number of thoughtful reactions:
The gist from a summary by the study’s funder, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
Overall, research findings show that teacher-rated social competence in kindergarten was a consistent and significant indicator of both positive and negative future outcomes across all major domains: education, employment, criminal justice, substance use and mental health. Study results also showed the greater the difference between students’ social competence scores in kindergarten, the more pronounced the difference in their outcomes by the age of 25. Children who scored “well”—at the higher end of the spectrum for social competence—for example, were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than children who scored “a little”—at the lower end of the spectrum.
Continue reading “Interesting Takes on the Kindergarten Social Competence Study”