There are many instances in which ancient wisdom anticipated contemporary research, and one of them can be found on the upcoming Jewish observance day of Yom Kippur. It is also known as the Day of Atonement and it is considered the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Happiness is something we all want, and new research shows that happiness and well-being can be taught! But who has time to teach happiness when there is so much else to cram into a school day? At the university level, we see courses at Harvard and University of Southern California on the Science of Happiness. There are good reasons why those courses are among these schools' most popular classes. Happier people tend to be healthier, more productive, more generous and kinder to others. They also learn more easily and enjoy life. Who doesn’t want some of that?
Ask your students to imagine themselves at an assembly in June. All of their classmates, teachers, staff, even parents are there. Every student is called up to the podium at the center of the stage, and the principal reads a statement of what they accomplished in the past year.
I was in a local shopping mall a while ago and two girls who couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 walked past me. Both were wearing makeup and dressed as if they were about to pose for a soft porn ad in Rolling Stone. I wasn’t even surprised. It just reconfirmed what I already knew about how girls are being sexualized at very early ages.
One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, "What do I do when several students act out at the same time?" Without resorting to S.W.A.T. gear, there are at least two methods that work almost all of the time. I learned them in a very unusual way.
In a culture that emphasizes youth, and where too many children do not spend enough time with grandparents, it is important in the coming year to include honoring the elderly as one of your teaching objectives. This need not be difficult, and it can fit into ongoing curriculum and instruction in a variety of ways.
For decades, James Comer has been a forceful advocate for the rights of children, particularly African-American and Latino children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Foremost among those rights are what some have called, "developmental rights." These are the rights for all children to benefit from what we know and to have the resources and opportunities to grow up in a positive and productive way.
Summer is a good time for reflection, and I have been reflecting on why, after so much education research, and so many years of educational practice, we still seem to be struggling to find "what works." So my next two blogs will look back at the words of folks who have thought about social-emotional aspects of education, written about them, and created successful and effective efforts to promote them.