Small Talks, No. 94
February 10, 2023
Welcome to the ninety 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 -
Happy Valentine! This week is dedicated to love, and how it connects to learning.
On an adjacent concept to love, David Willis, Senior Fellow at the Center for Study of Social Policy, has been working on elevating the importance of “Early Relational Health.”
He defines Early Relational Health as “the state of emotional well-being that grows from emotional connection between babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers when they experience strong, positive, and nurturing relationships with each other.”
Last week he launched a new website called Nurture Connection to elevate work in this area, filled with expert insights. Bravo.
Note that the American Academy of Pediatrics had issued a statement in 2021 about the importance of stable, and nurturing relationships to buffer adversity and build resilience. Please see more here.
Relationships and love correlate with learning outcomes. Please see powerful graphic representation of multiple dimensions of learning and number of strong relationships from Surge.
One innovator I wanted to feature this week is C2K, a program of nonprofit JPA in Chicago. C2K works on teacher-child relationship, by providing some well-being supports for teachers that then in turn positively impact children outcomes. Check their impact here.
What I’m listening to -
Barbara Fredrickson, Professor at the University of North Carolina, has analyzed and redefined in many ways the concept of “love.” According to her, love is made of micro-moments of connection between people—even strangers. Even more than happiness and optimism, love holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our lives.
“When you really connect with another person a beautifully choreographed biological dance is unfolding. As your smiles, gestures and postures come to mirror one another they come into sync but when you’re really connecting with somebody else your heart rhythms come into sync, your bio-chemistries come into sync, even your neural firings come into sync. It is as if in that single moment a single positive emotion is rolling across two brains and bodies at once creating a momentary resonance of good feeling and goodwill between you. As you have more of these micro moments of goodwill in your daily life, it changes you for the better not just socially and psychologically but also physically.”
— Barbara Fredrickson
What I’m reading
In Love and Compassion: Exploring Their Role in Education , John P. Miller, professor at the University of Toronto, explores different forms of love, including self-love, the love of others, compassion, the love of learning, and cosmic love, and how these dimensions of love have the potential to improve education. Please see good summary here.
What I’m watching -
In “Learning to Love Learning”, 6-year old Belle Zhang inspires us to 'Get Curious, Connect with Others, See for Ourselves, and Record our Findings;”, thereby encouraging everyone to be a life-long learner.
What I’m learning more deeply -
Excellent summary by FuelEd on how relationships & love are connected to learning.
Somewhat of a “geeky” read: recent interesting recent scientific findings from Stanford Medicine may challenge the conventional notion that love is linked to our oxytocin hormone.
Two quotes I’m pondering -
“For growing numbers of us, our sense of survival, our sense of thriving is embedded in a sense of movement and spaciousness and increasing allowance for more and more difference. You ask, what is love? Love is space. It is developing our own capacity for spaciousness within ourselves to allow others to be as they are. That is love. To come from a place of love is to be in acceptance of what is - even in the facing of moving in towards something that is more whole, more just, more spacious for all of us.”
— angel Kyodo williams, author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace
“Love is at the root of everything. All learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it.”
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.
If you enjoy this newsletter, please help spread the word by sharing with your friends, colleagues, and networks.
Have a wonderful week. Please stay safe and care for each other.
Thank you so much for the rec on early relational health! I’m a loving mother and teacher in a title 1 district and see both ends of the spectrum between my kiddos and some that I teach. I started my Substack to bring awareness to the academic end of this topic- language and literacy. Now I have a much better framework with which to consider my ideas! 🙌