Social Emotional - Education for the future
November 09 2011 by John Stewart, Headmaster
It is funny when we consider the paradox – our future will be determined by our past.
The question we must ask, as parents…
What is the most important thing we can give our children?
This question will trigger many considerations and experiences. Some of us when pondering this question will return to our own upbringing – the positives of what was done well and the negatives: the things we want to change. We will reflect.
As reader, you may well comment Education is the most important. This is what my father always states. An educated mind is the most important thing we can nurture. This comment is quite a standard, a banner that strengthens our choice in spending so much on an independent education.
When we ponder this question, we inevitably project forward. We look to a time when our children will be successful adults: happy, in good relationships, a good career, good values, responsible. We skip forward to the end-game.
Whereas I agree with the rational focus on education as a life-jacket, we must also teach our kids to swim in the sea of society.
Early childhood is a crucial time for learning. Research tells us we learn more in the first five years than we do over the rest of our lives!
I firmly believe the most important thing we can give to our children is their childhood. Childhood is an experience that lays foundations for the future. It is when we develop the connections – socially, emotionally and cognitively – which develop us as ‘citizens’.
The graph above highlights the stages of learning in early childhood, and emphasizes the vital years for learning peer social skills.
This awareness highlights the responsibility we have as parents. The nesting years are those when we feed our kids not just with nutrition but with awareness, healthy responses, well-being and goodness. We must prepare our kids for a social world by strengthening their sense of self and independence.
Peer social skills develop most around 4-7. This is when they must learn social skills and play is vital. We need to give more automated responses so our children ‘learn’ to be courteous and polite. Good behaviour is learned – and modelled by parents and good schools.
A study in Canada highlighted the importance of a good school and good parenting. When children come from difficult homes and come to a school that is functioning well the school can compensate for those homes. Schools can make a difference. Similarly the reverse is true.
It is said for every child behaving badly they need to be with 6 children behaving well.
Social and Emotional Learning has many models but these five keys give some insight:
1. Self Awareness
2. Self Management
3. Social Awareness
4. Relationship Skills
5. Social Decision Making
Connectedness to parents and school is one of the most significant protective factors for children. Connectedness is learned also. And connectedness has a lifetime lasting impact. If you feel connected, your immune system is better. Stress is buffered with great support. Maintaining social groups is as important for adults as for children.
Worryingly, then, are recent findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics: the percentage of our waking time spent alone increased by 14% to three hours a day!
Consider also the following points:
• Our kids think friends are Facebook hyperlinks
• The death rate of socially isolated people is 2-5 times higher than those with close friends.
• More Americans watch Friends than have friends.
• Children in K-12 schools can go right through without having to make friendships, break into new social contexts.
A study undertaken in Melbourne looked at the question, What do teachers need to do to make kids feel they are learning?
The following are the responses grouped in order…
1. Smiles at me
2. Says hello to me
3. Talks to me
4. Shows me he/she is proud of me
5. Takes an interest in what I do
What also helps…
1. Organises a fun activity
2. Notices my effort
3. Sets interesting work
4. Encourages me to join in
5. Helps me learn from my mistakes
The role of education is to give a toolkit, a mental preparedness and willingness to increase our capacity to learn, unlearn and relearn.
No two brains are exactly alike. Some brains are very good at remembering what someone said but not what they were wearing. Are you like that or are you brilliant at seeing and remembering a whole scene in your head but not so good at remembering a phone number when you need to, and just occasionally do you need to check your spelling? Or do you love the taste of certain foods, pace around when you’re thinking and remember not what things looked like but how they felt?
We each have learning differences and teachers need to use many different ways to plant learning well for each of us. We know that, even then, as much as 80% of what is learned will not survive for a day if it is left to fend for itself amidst the huge jungle of information we encounter daily.
We must tend learning in the right way at the right times if we wish it to last and grow.
- Headmaster's Blog
- Footprints on the journey of life
- Trophyism is Tokenism
- The Fun of Learning - important key to unlocking more
- Catch Up - two of the worst words in learning
- Five Minds for the Future - thoughts from Howard Gardner
- The Academic Report Writing Season - time in; gains out?
- A School’s Ethos is the corner stone of Cultural Intelligence
- The intangibles of true learning - our terroir
- Obesity and calories - the distance you need to go
- Passion, determination, practice and talent
- What do our Children Need for the Future?
- Discipline is to learn
- Playful Engaged Learning
- Good sport is more than winning
- Living our Values - Respect, Responsibility, Relationships
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About Mr John Stewart
For ten years, Mr Stewart taught in the United Kingdom at famous schools, such as Hill House International School in Knightsbridge, London; and St John's College School, Cambridge... Read more
Tudor House Old Boy
Looking back now, my years at Tudor House were amongst the best years of my life. We just had so much fun. And the friends I made are still with me.
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