What Will it Take to Help All Children Learn and Thrive? A Road Map from the Science of Learning and Development

“But what if, all along, these well-meaning efforts at closing the achievement gap have been opening the door to racist ideas? What if different environments lead to different kinds of achievement rather than different levels of achievement? What if the intellect of a low-testing black child in a poor black school is different from – and not inferior to – the intellect of a high-testing white child in a rich white school? What if we measured intelligence by how knowledgeable individuals are about their own environments? What if we measured intellect by an individual’s desire to know? What if we realized the best way to ensure an effective educational system is not by standardizing our curricula and tests but by standardizing the opportunities available to all students?” Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Anti-Racist

Imagine a world where every child’s life is a succession of opportunities in which they come to know who they are and discover who they might become. Imagine learning settings of all kinds where those kinds of opportunities are not only possible but optimized no matter where children start their education journeys or happen to live during their school years. Imagine too educators who know how to identify each child’s specific abilities, interests, and aspirations and align them with the contexts that best promote their talents, achievements, and successes in life. Finally, imagine each child lives in a world without the constraints of racism, poverty, disparities, and injustices, a world filled with trusting relationships and supports designed to help them learn and thrive.

In this presentation, Pamela Cantor, M.D. will offer an optimistic story about learning and thriving straight out of the science of learning and development. She will describe the specific conditions that can reveal what each and every child is capable of, no matter their starting point in life.