What a Holistic Approach to Learning Could Look Like

"...if the adults in a child’s life approach his or her growth as a collaboration following a clear developmental path, every child will have a better chance at a life filled with choices and the skills to achieve goals."

This wonderful article takes a comprehensive look at the factors crucial to child development, pointing out that:

Academics aren’t everything: Teachers often see themselves as responsible for specific academic content, but schools will never see the success they desire without accounting for some of the non-cognitive factors that play a role in development. The report points out that adults must act with a holistic approach to learning: “Cognition, emotion, affect, and behavior are reflexive, mutually reinforcing, and inextricably associated with one another as a part of development and learning.

Educators need a developmental lens: Too often, structures and practices are at odds with the developmental states of the children they are meant to serve. Schools and even parents are often more oriented towards the needs of adult – such as discipline and quiet – than towards what works for kids.

All kids need access to rich opportunities: At almost every step of the way kids from marginalized communities face more challenges to becoming successful adults than kids from wealthier and better educated homes. Adults need to help young people develop the skills and dispositions to cope with the world as it is, while helping them build the courage to change the status quo.

Schools must be safe places for educators: “In the current state of things, schools are not particularly safe places for teachers to be experimenting or practicing or doing something they don’t know for sure will work,” Nagaoka said. “Adults learn and grow and organizations improve by being allowed to make mistakes and overcome them and learn from them,” Nagaoka said. If this is the advice we are giving students about their learning, it only makes sense to allow educators the same growthful stance and professional agency.

Be careful measuring non-cognitive factors: Many school districts are realizing that non-cognitive factors are important to success, but the immediate instinct has been to try and quantify those things. The report’s authors caution that course of action, noting that in many cases the factors aren’t compatible with a standardized test-based accountability system.

You can read the full article here on KQED Mind/Shift How We Learn series.

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