Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

Edutopia

spiegler-teachyoungchildsocialjust-notstock

When my daughter was three years old, I taught her the word “stereotype.” She was just beginning to string words together into sentences, had determined that pink was definitely not her favorite color, and asked (demanded, actually) why all the “girl stuff” was pink and the “boy stuff” was blue. Because there’s no three-year-old version for a word describing why colors are gendered in our society, I figured that planting the seed might yield fruit soon enough. And somewhat surprisingly, I was correct.

Who’s Different and What’s Fair

As a society and within our educational institutions, discussions about bias, diversity, discrimination, and social justice tend to happen in middle and high schools. We’ve somehow decided that little kids can’t understand these complex topics, or we want to delay exposing them to injustices as long as possible (even though not…

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When Black and White Children Grow Apart

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

The Atlantic
Research shows that interracial friendships decline as kids enter adolescence—and that teachers may play a role.

MELINDA D. ANDERSON JUN 14, 2016

The image of black and white children hand-in-hand is possibly the most well-known and most often quoted line from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Over the years, black and white youngsters playing together has evolved from a civil-rights leader’s vision of racial equality to a clothing retailer’s marketing campaign, and in the process spawned a cultural meme—signaling everything from innocence and hope to a world free of interpersonal racism. Yet black and white childhood friendships, an inspiring notion, rarely happen organically.

According to a new study of elementary- and middle-school students, teacher behaviors may shape how students select and maintain friends and affect the longevity of interracial friendships. The study, led by researchers with New York University’s Steinhardt School, finds that as…

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Researchers Draw Link Between Physical Activity, Academic Success

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

EdWeek

Beyond the fitness-related benefits, physical activity can also contribute to students’ academic success, suggests a consensus statement published online Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

A group of 24 international experts gathered in Denmark back in April “to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity and youth.” They wound up with a 21-point list divided into four themes: fitness and health; cognitive functioning; engagement, motivation, psychological well-being; and inclusion and physical activity implementation strategies.

When it comes to academics, the researchers concluded that “physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are beneficial to brain structure, brain function, and cognition in children and youth.” Additionally, they suggested “a single session of moderate physical activity has an acute benefit to brain function, cognition, and scholastic performance in children and youth.”

There’s been plenty of research in recent years to back up these assertions…

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Research Hints at Promise and Difficulty of Helping People With A.D.H.D. Learn

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

The New York Times
By BENEDICT CAREYFEB. 15, 2016

Over the past few decades, cognitive scientists have found that small alterations in how people study can accelerate and deepen learning, improving retention and comprehension in a range of subjects, including math, science and foreign languages.

The findings come almost entirely from controlled laboratory experiments of individual students, but they are reliable enough that software developers, government-backed researchers and various other innovators are racing to bring them to classrooms, boardrooms, academies — every real-world constituency, it seems, except one that could benefit most: people with learning disabilities.

Now, two new studies explore the effectiveness of one common cognitive science technique — the so-called testing effect — for people with attention-deficit problems, one of the most commonly diagnosed learning disabilities.
The results were mixed. They hint at the promise of outfoxing learning deficits with cognitive science, experts said, but they also point…

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How Parents And Teachers Can Nurture The ‘Quiet Power’ Of Introverts

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

Student hiding under a desk

LA Johnson/NPR

When Susan Cain wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking in 2012, it was a big success. The book made the cover of Time magazine, spent weeks on the New York Times best-sellers list and was the subject of one of the most-watched TED Talks, with more than 13 million views.

From that grew The Quiet Revolution, a company Cain co-founded that continues to produce and share content about, and for, introverts. The site offers an online training course for parents and stories submitted by readers about being introverted. There’s even a podcast.

Kids, Cain says, “are at the heart and center of it.”

“Introverts often are really amazing, talented, gifted, loving children, and they feel like there’s something wrong with them,” she says. “And our mission is to make it so that…

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Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

The New York Times

By CAROLINE PAUL FEB. 20, 2016

21paul-master675

Credit Lauren Tamaki

I WAS one of the first women in the San Francisco Fire Department. For more than a dozen years, I worked on a busy rig in a tough neighborhood where rundown houses caught fire easily and gangs fought with machetes and .22s. I’ve pulled a bloated body from the bay, performed CPR on a baby and crawled down countless smoky hallways.

I expected people to question whether I had the physical ability to do the job (even though I was a 5-foot-10, 150-pound ex-college athlete). What I didn’t expect was the question I heard more than any other: “Aren’t you scared?”

It was strange — and insulting — to have my courage doubted. I never heard my male colleagues asked this. Apparently, fear is expected of women.

This fear conditioning begins early. Many studies have shown that…

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How to Bring ‘More Beautiful’ Questions Back to School

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

KQED


Question mark cookies! (Scott McLeod/Flickr)

In the age of information, factual answers are easy to find. Want to know who signed the Declaration of Independence? Google it. Curious about the plot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel, “The Scarlet Letter”? A quick Internet search will easily jog your memory. But while computers are great at spitting out answers, they aren’t very good at asking questions. But luckily, that’s where humans can excel.

Curiosity is baked into the human experience. Between the ages of 2 and 5, kids ask on average 40,000 questions, said Warren Berger, author of  “A More Beautiful Question,” at the Innovative Learning Conference hosted at the Nueva School. Young kids encounter something new, learn a little bit about it, get curious and then continue to add on a little more information with each new discovery…

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