Small Talks, No. 54
April 8, 2022
Dear Small Talker,
Welcome to the fifty fourth edition of Small Talks. 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 -
New research by Harvard University across 11,000 children in 17 states finds that public policies aiming to reduce the harm of poverty may lead to larger brains in children.
“On average, children in states with generous benefits had a larger hippocampus, the section of the brain involved in learning, memory and emotion processing. They also had fewer mental health and behavioral problems.”
ASU GSV has become the largest conference in education innovation, sold out this year with 5,700 in-person and 10,000 virtual attendees. Early childhood education had a meaningful presence this past week, with lots of great content and representation. For those who missed the event, I will circulate links to sessions when available.
I had the opportunity to moderate two panels - one on the promise of voice recognition technology in childhood, and the other on the latest neuroscience findings on the impact of COVID-19 on young children.
Also, inspiring to hear live the story of the 4th Black woman to have ever gone in space, Dr. Pastor, and to meet with Run DMC Darryl McDaniels, collaborating with Nickelodeon on new content for young children.
I published this piece on how women billionaires are changing the face of early childhood education and care.
Beautiful artsy project for the Week of The Young Child by First Steps Preschool in East Maine. Yes, we are grateful for teachers, families and…ice cream.
What I’m listening to -
“Why the labor shortage is hitting child care so hard” features one of the experts in early childhood workforce - Dr. Lea Austin at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of Berkeley. The podcast discusses the early childhood educator shortages, with glimpses of hope.
What I’m reading -
“Grasp: The Science Transforming How We Learn”, by Sanjay Sarma, head of Open Learning at MIT, and Luke Yoquinto, covers the latest science of learning. Interesting to read about a law school in Florida applying cutting-edge learning strategies and rocketing to the top in bar exam passage rates, or latest neuro-imaging detecting dyslexia before reading.
What I’m watching -
Interesting TEDTalk by Haneefah Shuaibe-Peter that gets to the important notion that children develop in relationship to others and that preschool is critical to develop social human beings. “Do we need good students or do we need good people?”
What I’m learning and exploring more deeply -
Excellent piece summarizing a 2006 study on the impact of the Spanish Flu on babies born in 1918 and 1919 at the height of the pandemic and tracked those babies longitudinally: 15% lesser high school graduation; 8-12% more social benefits payments; 2x greater negative impact on non-White children.
New CDC report on mental heath across 7,500 high school students nationwide (January-June 2021).
44% felt persistent sadness/hopelessness (up 8 points from 2019 and 2x from 2009)
Teens who felt “close to persons at school” had lower prevalence of poor mental health (28% vs 45%)
Inspiring piece by Mark Swartz for Early Learning Nation on AlegreMENTE, a museum completely dedicated to brain building through parent/child interactions, and is Spanish-language focused.
Quote I’m pondering -
“I was really questioning, ‘Do I belong here? Can I make it in this environment? I was walking through the [Harvard] yard in the evening, and a Black woman I did not know was passing me on the sidewalk ... She leaned over as we crossed and said, ‘Persevere.’ ”
— Supreme Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
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 of you who are sending me amazing suggestions.
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Have a wonderful week. Please stay safe and care for each other.