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News and Opinion Jul 2, 2018

Turnaround’s contributions to Science of Learning and Development papers highlighted by EdSurge

Integrating SEL, Equity and Trauma Work for Multiplied Success


In a July 2, 2018 EdSurge article about Integrating SEL, Equity and Trauma Work for Multiplied Success, writer Jessica Berlinski highlights contributions by Turnaround for Children’s Pamela Cantor, M.D. and Lily Steyer to the Science of Learning and Development Initiative’s 2018 papers in the journal Applied Developmental Science, which synthesize research from multiple disciplines on what is understood and what can be done to help all children develop in healthy ways, no matter their start in life.

Berlinksi cites the two papers, Malleability, Plasticity, and Individuality: How Children Learn and Develop in Context and Drivers of Human Development: How Relationships and Context Shape Learning and Development as evidence of why social-emotional learning, trauma-informed education and the pursuit of authentic equity must be integrated in schools and education systems, in order to fully support the development of the whole child.

Read an excerpt:

Why Integrating These Areas Is Necessary

Schools provide a unique opportunity to build kids’ social emotional assets, address their trauma, and move towards educational equity. Many are focused on doing so, but too often they make these interrelated domains of support separate.

“A trauma-informed, SEL, cultural awareness model of supports allows (educators) to create a safe environment to address trauma and SEL skill build, while also tapping into the strengths and opportunities of students’ culture. In this way, prevention assets don’t just build on each other, they multiply,” says Dr. Gregory Leskin, Ph.D, Director at UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

American Institute of Research’s David Osher and Juliette Berg, Harvard’s Todd Rose, and Turnaround’s Pam Cantor and Lily Steyer corroborated this in a series of research papers that synthesized knowledge from multiple scientific domains regarding how humans develop and learn. They concluded that relational, environmental, instructional and curricular factors – factors that include SEL skill building, addressing trauma and building cultural competence – must be integrated to produce effective learning.

There are also unintended negative consequences of failing to integrate these domains. These include an exclusive focus on the deficits or trauma of students of color, failing to leverage their strengths and resilience.