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News and Opinion Apr 24, 2018

SoLD and Turnaround featured in Jim Shelton’s EdWeek Op-Ed

EdWeekIn his piece, The Brain Science Is In: Students’ Emotional Needs Matter, Jim Shelton, President of Education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, highlights the science backing whole child development. He explains that while some people focus on academics, others stress noncognitive skills, science clearly makes the case for both.

Shelton’s op-ed specifically draws on a pair of papers published in Applied Development Science about the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD), coauthored by Turnaround for Children’s Pamela Cantor, M.D. and Lily Steyer, along with colleagues David Osher and Juliette Berg from the American Institutes for Research, and Todd Rose from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Center for Individual Opportunity. These two papers bring together research on learning and development and offer enormous optimism for what’s possible for all children. Here is an excerpt:

In public appearances, Pamela Cantor has distilled these consequential findings to four specific insights:

  • Malleability: Genes are not destiny. Our developing brains are largely shaped by our environments and relationships—a process that continues into adulthood.
  • Context: Family, relationships, and lived experiences shape the physiological structure of our brains over time. Healthy amounts of challenge and adversity promote growth, but toxic stress takes a toll on the connections between the hemispheres of our brain.
  • Continuum: While we’ve become familiar with the exponential development of the brain for young children, it continues throughout life. The explosion of brain growth into adolescence and early adulthood, in particular, requires putting serious work into much more intentional approaches to supporting that development than is common today.
  • Integration: Over time, different parts of the brain should develop more complex interconnections supporting the development of the whole person—and positive and negative emotional experiences can greatly influence that process. Yet, adverse effects of negative experiences and stress can be buffered and reversed by trusting human relationships. Children who have faced adversity, and whose brains lag in development, can recover—if schools recognize these challenges and take timely action.

Shelton’s full op-ed can be read here.