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Results tagged “Dale Blyth”

Prominent misperceptions about social and emotional learning

Dale-Blyth.jpgA New York Times opinion piece published this week is titled, "Can we teach personality?" This is the wrong question in so many ways.

First, it's not about teaching personality but helping to equip youth with the skills they need in life - academic, social and emotional. These skills can be learned and should be -- not as a one size fits all or by forcing everyone into one mold. Rather, they should be taught as tools that can be used in navigating learning and life.

They also are, and need to be, taught by parents and expanded community learning opportunities. Like all skills important in life, we cannot and should not leave it to schools alone to help equip our young people.

What if...

Dale-Blyth.jpgWhat if ... communities sought to educate the heart as well as the mind?

This is the idea behind the work of Kimberly Schonert-Reichl at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Kimberly will be one of the keynote presenters at the upcoming Social and Emotional Learning Summit May 5-6 at TCF Stadium. The two day summit presented by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development and Youthprise initiative is designed to move from understanding to action. Check out Dr. Schonert-Reichl's brief video on why we should educate the heart. At the May summit she will discuss how schools, neighborhoods and others have used data in Vancouver to change the way community leaders and citizens work together to educate the heart.

Why enter the social and emotional "jungle" now?

Dale-Blyth.jpgOver the years, I have seen fads come and go in our field. I would argue that the evidence is there and the time is right to tackle the "jingle jangle jungle" of social and emotional factors Kate blogged about last week.

Now is the right time to undertake an initiative aimed at making a difference in how we think about, assess, and work to improve policy and practice based on these factors.

It takes a team

Dale-Blyth.jpgIn sports, we know that it takes a variety of skills to win, and a variety of players to make a team. So why do we measure the success of every student by comparing their scores on the same few tests, all of them cognitive?

We know intuitively that success, whether in school or life, depends on many factors -- intelligence, academic skills, personality, and relationships. Paul Tough calls this oversimplification of skills the cognitive hypothesis. It can cause us to ignore anything but math and reading scores in our push to close the achievement gap or create a work force for the 21st century.

Who are the branches on your learning tree?

Dale-Blyth.jpgAs fall starts, three unrelated events have caused me to wonder about how well we know and support our children's learning throughout their lives.

Event 1: Last night I was playing around on and saw my family tree filling in before me. I learned things about my family tree that I hadn't known before.

Event 2: My oldest granddaughter starts school this fall and her parents decided to home school her for kindergarten. Where are my son and his wife going to find 30 hours a week to devote to her learning and development, I wondered? Thinking about this made me realize just how much work it takes to be a teacher and how much time and support they give our children. Upon reflection, I am excited by the new opportunities that role can provide and my roles as a grandparent in helping her find joy in learning and develop the skills so essential in life.

Event 3: The Minnesota State Fair ended last weekend and with it all the 4-H projects and ribbons, summer camps and myriad other summer learning opportunities young people have. As always, 4-H learning was very much in evidence at the fair.

Hopes and fears for the use of evidence

Dale-Blyth.jpgIn March and April my schedule has me in multiple conversations about evidence. What is the evidence for the impact of out of school time programs? How do we generate better evidence? How does one organize evidence to make it useful? How do we invest in creating, gathering, and using evidence? How should evidence guide further investments in our field? To what extent does money flow to where evidence is strong or stop when evidence is weak?

At the recent Mayoral Summit here in Minnesota, mayors and others learned about the evidence that youth opportunities work, to what extent young people are participating, and the nature of the opportunity gap as a supply problem, not a demand problem. Many attendees wanted more evidence about opportunities in their communities, evidence that what mayors can do will matter, and evidence that if we build it, youth will come.

Intentionality means more than just paying attention to youth

Dale-Blyth.jpgFor years I have talked about becoming more intentional about how we think about and work with youth. Too much of our efforts often go to trying to get attention for youth and the issues that impact their lives, and not enough goes into being intentional about our work on their behalf.

Paying attention means selectively narrowing or focusing consciousness to sort out what is important. Paying more attention to youth may help us spend more time thinking about them but it does not help us act more effectively without a clearer purpose or goal in mind. Paying attention to our children is helpful, it is not enough.

Remembering Peter Benson: May 2, 1946-Oct 2, 2011

Dale-Blyth.jpgYouth development lost a champion this week. I first met Peter Benson in the early 1980s in Arizona at one of the first adolescent research meetings. I remember his bright boyish charms even then. He had just conducted a seminal study of early adolescents and was humble and eager to learn. We next met in Chicago in 1990 when he was presenting publicly for the first time on the developmental assets. Here was a man saying what youth needed positively in their lives -- not just trying to understand their development or count their problems.

I was quite taken by him and by his work and soon joined him at Search Institute as the director of research and evaluation. I remember my family having dinner with his family as we moved to Minneapolis and feeling I had found a soul mate. We joked and told stories with our families. I never felt more instantly at home than I did that night.

Let's measure everything that matters

Dale-Blyth.jpgWhat outcomes do we want for our children and youth? What outcomes can we expect from expanded learning opportunities during the non-school hours?

What we measure and hold up now is pretty limited -- test scores, drug use, cheating on tests. Sometimes we get stuck in the mode of just using the data we have, even when they are not the measures we need. How many times are we forced to consider how well our youth are doing by just looking at deficits or test scores rather than strengths?

What does it mean to be driven by data?

Dale-Blyth.jpg From evidence-based practice to data-driven decision making, the role of data in driving everything forward is becoming omnipresent. As a recovering quantitative sociologist this excites me. As a person devoted to building the field and making a difference in the lives of youth it raises both opportunities and concerns.

Like driving a car, youth work is a navigational sport filled with hundreds of decisions on a moment-by-moment basis. Whether it is the development of the field of youth work or the development of a young person, we process thousands of bits of data to make decisions.

Are we building a workforce, a profession, or a field?

Dale-Blyth.jpgWhat is our vision of ourselves? What do we in the youth development, out-of-school-time, non-formal learning field want to become?

During discussions at the National Afterschool Association Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla., a weekend of great sessions and discussions about the future of the youth worker workforce sponsored by the Next Generation Youth Work Coalition, part of a series of critical conversations that started back last fall at the History of Youth and Community Work Conference I was struck by these most basic questions.

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