Human Development Blog Reflection

This course gave me a perspective that I didn’t think I would have gotten. I was unsure as to what this course would entail, honestly, and I’m glad that the things we covered had a significant impact on how we treat children in the classroom.

One of the things that I think stuck out to me the most was how much we actually learn, from birth through the first year. As a secondary education major, I really did not expect to be learning about when we learn things, and how they are significant. However, the more we covered it, the more interested I had gotten. I never really made the connection that how we learn, and when we learn things can affect how we do so in the future. I also didn’t think about how complex the brain really is, in terms of how much information that can be retained through the first year of life.

Feeding off this point, something that interested me was the extensive time we spent talking about how much children are effected by their upbringing, and how that can be managed in the classroom setting. Specifically, the video of the rats and their mothers stand out to me the most, because it was insightful to get a different perspective on how families have a significant impact on their children. The way specific mother treated and cared for their youth played such a big role in the way they behaved in the future gave me an understanding that nothing else could. A lot of this, I feel, had to do with the fact that it wasn’t a human parent. This showed me that care and nurture really goes outside our realm as beings, but it also takes on such an important factor in others as well.

Bullying, as well as positive stress management were both other components that I really took to heart, because I think that these two both coincide within each other. Positive stress had a particular place in my heart, because I feel as though it’s so important to think about the good things that come out of the scenarios we stress ourselves out about. The TED talk we watched was extremely interesting to me, as it furthered my feeling towards positive stress. One thing about this topic that I hope to bring with me through my academic career, both as a student and a future teacher, is that there are always benefits that come from the stress of little things. Many of us aren’t stressing out about where we’re going to sleep at night, or what we’re hoping to eat the next day. We aren’t in these live or die situations. We stress over getting things done; this blog, for example, is something that gave me stress because I felt like it wouldn’t be done in time. Looking at it now, I realized that it wasn’t a tough task, and that having time management that’s improved from the beginning of the semester gives me hope that I’m doing the right thing.

 

Bullying, from a teacher perspective, is another thing that I believe is more important than most others, especially in the ones we discussed this semester. Bullying as a whole is something that I think we can avoid, but it’s also something that we can’t. As teachers, it’s something that you see every day, and whether you choose to handle it appropriately is a different matter. I think that just the notion that it was brought up in this class makes a huge impact, because we need to be aware of it.

 

Lastly, one of the things that I think we’ll use the most is how different ages are subject to different things. The ideal middle school project was informative, because it helped reiterate what different ages were supposed to act like. From birth through middle school specifically, children change so much, and we need to understand those changes in order to be respectful professionals in the academic field. That was something that all of the above ideas are focused off of. Bullying, positive stress, how children’s upbringing affects them, and everything in between correlate with the characteristics each age group has. If a seven year old who’s extremely shy and doesn’t want to go home after school, is treated the same way as a 15-year old’s identical dilemma, something needs to change. Knowing how different age groups respond to daily tasks plays a very important role in the education field, and it’s one of the most important things teachers need to know.

 

Doing these blogs helped me hone in the way I read. Knowing that I had to write about the reading made me delve into the reading more than usual, and for that, I wish we had more of them. The biggest problem I had was knowing whether or not we had a reading, and honestly, I would do a lot of the reading at the beginning of the year an hour before class. The one thing I wished we had done was get the blogs done earlier in the semester, because it would have set a rhythm for the rest of the semester. I enjoyed doing the blog posts, and I believe that all of them were done to the best of my ability. I think that two or three of them could have been expanded with more detail, but especially for the reflection blogs, I believe that I got the overall point of the reading across.

 

If I were to turn in by blog posts as a professional portfolio, I definitely would want to clean it up a bit more. Overall, I think that regarding the texts I wrote about, I did a good job reviewing what the point of each one were. I believe that as a whole, I was able to get the general concepts down, and was able to learn from them based on that. I was happy to use blog posts as a way to demonstrate my findings, because generally I can use my own voice to show that what I’ve actually paid attention. I really enjoyed this class, whether or not I portrayed that on a daily basis. There’s a lot to learn still, but I enjoyed using blog posts as a way to express my knowledge toward the course.

How To Succeed Review

Upon reading further into Tough’s theories, something that really stood out to me was his ideas in chapter 4. Tough and other researchers pin down statistics and reasoning to figure out why students are dropping out of college.

One of my best friends from high school dropped out after his first semester at UNH. In high school, I graduated with 26 other students; only five are left in college. Five students, out of 26! I was extremely interested to find any sort of answer.

The first claim, and something that made the most sense to myself and my past schooling, was that high school grades tell people more about their motivation to succeed in any classroom than it does mastery of content (153). Tough says that a 3.5 GPA in a low income school vs. a 3.5 GPA in a high level high school only have a slight differentiation in how those two students would do in post-secondary education.

One of the other big things pushed throughout the chapter was the importance of ACT testing. This to me was somewhat significant, because in our high school, there was no stress on ACT testing. Nevertheless, one of the things that I took away from Kewauna’s story was on page 173, and the strategy she had with her biology professor. “every time he used a word she didn’t understand, she wrote it down and put a red start next to it.” (173). Although this really interested me, Jeff Nelson’s approach on getting low-income students motivated really intrigued me. Take teachers from all over the country with the ambition to get students to want to learn, and thing can get much better in the future.

“Tough” Child Upbringing Reaction/Relfection

When reading and reviewing some of the Paul Tough book, there were things that I had already assumed to be correct in terms of parenting, and how children respond to stress. For example, I believed that there was a definite cause and effect to how parents nurture their newborns through childhood. I didn’t really know what measures that would be taken for this, however.

Michael Meaney from McGill University used his series of rat research discoveries correlate back to how human children are raised. As fascinated as I was about this, I was also shocked at how it all worked. I found it intriguing and entertaining to be walked through the series of tests that Meaney performed on the rats, and although I felt bad for the pups, I could also see how many children the same situation affected.

Ainsworth’s studies on attachment were something that I had felt existed in children as well. Many children that are overly attached had prime nurturing in their first year of life. In most cases, things like this continue throughout childhood. On the other hand, parents who feel burdened around their children are the ones at fault, because when their children throw tantrums, ignore them, or lash out are at the other end of the non-treatment.

Ainsworth and Liberman’s statement on the child’s living conditions was also something I could see as well, although I never really thought about it. “When you are bombarded by poverty, uncertainty, and fear, it takes a superhuman quality to provide the conditions for a secure attachment” (Tough 38). Not only is this true, but this is something that parents have less control over, I feel.

One of the biggest points thus far in this reading, however, in on page 43.

“…The most effective vehicle for improving children’s outcomes is not the school or the church                or even the job center; it is the family- or, if necessary, the creation of substitute or             supplemental family structures for children who don’t have them.”

Basically, this says that even if children don’t have a safe place where they can feel comfortable, there needs to be one for them. There needs to be a place for them to go, where they have someone to talk to, someone to give them love and emotional support. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a much better concept than allowing a child to fail based on their upbringing.

How Children (learn to) Succeed

Through the intro to Paul Tough’s book, one can find that it’s somewhat unconventional to what parents and students are known to believe. To say that, for example, children will learn something by repetition is a commonplace ideal. Tough thinks that parents have been raising their children the wrong ways.

 

Taking a brief look at the Fat Brain Toys website, we see the more conventional approach to teaching children what to do and what not to. Toys with repetition, that make children focus and learn are what their mission statement is. If you can beat something into a child with continuous repetition, good for you. That’s really how most brain games work.

 

Tough suggests that we haven’t been utilizing the more basic, primal time frames with children. He explains that you can make a child learn something by simply making them repeat it over and over. He says that people have been looking in the wrong places to find the answers as to why specific children don’t succeed. His answer is simple, as stated above: “if we want to improve the odds for children in general, and for poor children in particular, we need to approach childhood anew, to start over with some fundamental questions about how parents affect their children; how human skills develop; how character is formed” (Tough xxiv)

 

That should say it all. Children won’t succeed to their full potential if they’re always being beaten down, or verbally abused at home. They won’t do as well as they should with constant neglect, and that’s the basis to Tough’s research.

Comparing Willingham to Whole Brain Learning

Taking a look at the whole brain teaching website, I was interested to see that there were a lot of similarities that correlated to the Willingham book. With that said, it really didn’t take long to browse through the website to find something to compare.

 

The first thing that I noticed was that when clicking onto the above tabs, there was a list of options that would best suit a specific learning option. The Willingham book demonstrates that there isn’t one way to learn for everybody, and that basically is the function of this entire website. What I didn’t understand is whether this site should have a specific idea about it, because it was so broad. Willingham suggests that there isn’t a set way to learn, and he gives us these peripheral cues that are supposed to determine what schools feel is necessary to teach. The ideas here are categorized into Enlightenment and Romantic, and telling a long story short, they’re all either science and government (Enlightenment) or they’re intuition and natural (Romantic). The issue here is that within education, students are supposed to learn more from one of these two learning theories, whether science makes things seem smarter and are therefore more appealing, or is nature and intuition questions the student and makes them want to learn. Willingham make sure that he presents enough of an argument to where we realize that neither are correct.

 

The Whole Brain Teaching website gives the teacher options as to how to properly get a students’ attention. Whether it’s a quick one-minute presentation, collaboration between classmates, or using a simple word to get the students’ attention will go a long ways. Here is where Willingham relates. In the first two chapters of his book, he stresses that there are no correct ways of properly teaching a class and keeping their attention for its entirety. The website shows that there are multiple ways to go about making sure students feel like they’re attributing, which was the overall point Willingham tries to make.

Bullying, Then and Now

There were a bunch of things that I found interesting pertaining to the bullying articles. Many of the things I was reading about made me think about what they were such a huge deal, and I think a large reason as to why that is, is because I grew up at such a small school.

For example, the PDF information on what parents should do to help bullying, or how they can tell if their child has been bullied really struck me. Shouldn’t parents be aware if their child is being bullied? How could they not tell? The bullet points that described how to tell if your child has been bullied really confused me as well. Many of the ‘suggestions’ were open-ended: trouble sleeping, no appetite, mood swings, no attention paid to schoolwork, to name a few. These could mean anything from ADHD to smelling bad. On the other hand, if your child is constantly missing money, or coming home beat up every day, that should give you a red flag that’s brighter than one for sleep deprivation.

On the other hand, I loved what the website on how to prevent bullying said, because it seemed so real. Bullying isn’t an epidemic, was quite possibly the best thing I’ve read. It’s not like bullying rates have increased or decreased in the past couple years, so why does it seem like it’s become more and more of an issue? To go with that, the website also addressed the fact that most bullies were also the victim at one point, and that the support they got (or lack of) was the sole reason as to why they became bullies.

One thing that I always heard when growing up was that I needed to “suck it up.” That, bullying was something that happened to everyone, and you just had to deal with it. You had to man up, fight back. And for the most part, it was successful to me. Now, was I a bully in school? Probably. I most definitely made fun of kids that I didn’t like, and I hate myself for it. Realistically, most bullying starts at home, with encouragement. Many children (boys, as every website will tell you) are told at home that they need to stand up for themselves, that they shouldn’t take anything from anyone. If someone says that your shoes are ugly, tell them their face is ugly. If my dad told me that when I was younger, of course I was going to do it. No boy wants to let his dad down.

We have, however, entered a new age of bullying which occurs online. Something our parents, and our parents’ parents never had to deal with before. Cyberbullying can attack children even after school, which is a bigger problem than dealing with it when it faces you. As the PDF explains, there are so many ways that kids can get attacked verbally that they feel cornered. One of their solutions is just to simply not respond. But how can you not respond? Children are no longer bullied in school, and there’s really no set solution to it.

Physical Activity in the Classroom: Reflection

As I was in high school, I never had to worry about the amount of time I spent getting my daily exercise. I was a three sport athlete for as long as I could remember, and I had gym every day growing up. To me, physical exercise was just part of my day.

When I saw some of the stats from children today, and how they exercise, it really shocked me. Only 29% of students go to gym class daily? That’s crazy! And only 27% exercise 60 minutes a day? And then I started thinking about myself. When was the last time I really worked out? It’s honestly been almost a month ago.

Understanding it’s hard for students to get a full 60 minutes of exercise daily if they aren’t an athlete was something I had trouble with. Because I went to such a small school, it’s hard for me to get a grasp on the fact that not everybody is an athlete. Having said that, I believe it’s much harder than it seems to get students active during the day. One of the ideas that I read about was having students take physical breaks in the classroom. Shot ones, between five and twenty minutes. I think that this would work in younger classrooms, but how do you expect to take twenty minutes out of a hour-long class period for your students to regroup? It’d make teaching that much harder, especially if every teacher did this.

Another idea that was brought up was to make an after school program that allows for students to participate in activities that promote healthy lifestyles. Where I come from, we had something like this that was run by the local recreation department, which I worked for. Every day, we would take students up to the community indoor pool. This was one of the easiest, most efficient ways of getting students the physical activities they need, because they didn’t even think they were getting exercise. With this program, however, came a grant from a local donor which allowed the recreation staff to be paid. It would be hard to convince teachers and faculty of a school to go over the top to get children something like this, especially on a salary-paid basis. Also, finding somewhere to take the kids that can be used year-round would be very difficult. We were lucky we had the local pool at our disposal.

 

I will agree 100% that students need to get the physical exercise that their bodies are craving, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. Having a CPAP means that there needs to be involvement all around, from teachers to parents. Inclusion, safety of students, and some sort of payment plan would be just a few of the bigger speed bumps a program like this would hit. It’s awful that these are issues in today’s schools, but there’s no way around it.