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Small Talks, No. 26
September 3, 2021
Dear Small Talker,
Welcome to the twenty sixth edition of Small Talks (yes, Small Talks is turning 6 months). Every Friday, I highlight 6 areas of weekly joys and reflections in early childhood and the whole family. Small Talks leverages my experience at the intersection of education, philanthropy and impact investing. Enjoy!
What I’m celebrating -
Reach Capital’s excellent report on K-12 and higher ed trends. I particularly appreciated the focus on equity and mental health.
Thank you to The Hechinger Report for publishing my latest op-ed “How climate change and early childhood are intertwined.” Like climate change, our under-investment in early childhood is causing unequivocal and irreversible damage to precious resources: our human talent. And as with climate change, the crisis in early childhood doesn’t affect people equally.
In particular, I highlight how 90% of the brain develops before age 5, but only 6% of public education spending goes to the early years — and just 4 % and 6% of education philanthropy and edtech investments. Check it out and welcome your thoughts on the op-ed.
To add to the urgency, two different research teams at Brown and Columbia have reached the same horrifying conclusions:
Brown study: “Children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, & overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic.”
Columbia study: “Birth during the pandemic, regardless of maternal COVID-19 infection, is associated with lower neurodevelopmental scores at 6 months, specifically in the gross motor, fine motor, and personal-social subdomains.”
On the lighter side, I loved reading this story of kindness and impact: “A man built a garden in Harlem and the children in the neighborhood bloomed.”
What I’m listening -
Capita hosted a thought-provoking discussion with leading legal scholars in the country: “The Rights of Children in America: Do we need a constitutional amendment?” The U.S. Constitution is silent on children rights - including education-, and the U.S. is the only country not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Children. Meanwhile, young people are most affected by the rising economic, political and climate crises, and may be best placed to respond.
What I’m reading -
“Tending: Parenthood and The Future of World”, Amy Henderson’s first book, is a great mix of personal narrative, scientific evidence and innovations. Particularly interesting are her 11 recommendations to build a work culture, which values care. Top 3 include:
“1. Model from the top: show that caring is valued by company leadership.
2. Provide equal parental leave for all parents.
3. Provide miscarriage leave.”
What I’m watching -
“The Smartest Kids in the World” by Amanda Ripley was a best seller book a few years ago. The related documentary is now available- featuring four American high schoolers exploring education in countries that rank higher than the U.S. on the PISA test. Trailer and documentary on Discovery+. Please also see Q&A.
What I’m learning and exploring more deeply -
“Lessons on Child Care, From the Military” is a good piece on how our military turned a scattershot child care system into one of the best in the country.
An inspiring read: “The power of intergenerational connections to reduce loneliness”
Good brief on the importance of fathers’ involvement. Father involvement can provide support for maternal breastfeeding and is associated w/a reduction in the negative effects of maternal depressive behaviors on children.
“A fathers’ presence at birth is a key predictor for maternal & child wellbeing."
“Female founders are having a standout year—that's not the whole story” shows how female-founded companies are raising venture capital at significantly higher levels than at any point in the last decade. However, the gap in funding between all-women teams and mixed-gender teams continues to grow. And female-founded startups' share of overall VC dollars remains small.
Quote I am pondering -
“We are all born with extraordinary powers of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality, and of physical and sensory awareness. For the most part, we use only a fraction of these powers, and some not at all.”
— Sir Ken Robinson
Feedback is a gift. Which part above is your favorite? What did I miss? What do you want more or less of? Other recommendations? Please kindly let me know. Thank to all all of you who are sending me amazing suggestions.
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Have a wonderful week. Please stay safe and care for each other.