By: Sam Piha
We used to think that emotions were separate from learning. We now know that both engagement and learning are deeply emotional and that young people's emotions drive their learning. Thanks to research, we also know that young people's culture and personal experience are important to learning.
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is a former classroom science teacher, who taught at a racially diverse school outside Boston. She is now a researcher at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. She focuses on psychology, neuroscience and education, and is known internationally for her research on the critical role that emotion plays in learning. She recently published a new book entitled, Emotions, Learning and the Brain.
In partnership with LA’s BEST and THINK Together, we invited Dr. Immordino-Yang to share her thoughts at a Speaker’s Forum in Los Angeles (November 22, 2019) regarding her research and implications for learning in afterschool.
Below we share a few quotes from her and also some resources if people would like to learn more.
ABOUT EMOTION AND LEARNING:
People think of emotion getting in the way of cognition, but it doesn’t. Emotion steers our thinking; it’s the rudder that directs our mind and organizes what we do and think about.” (1)
ABOUT HOW HER RESEARCH WOULD CHANGE HER CLASSROOM TEACHING:
When I was teaching, I was struck by the differences in the ways kids came to the science I was teaching, but I didn’t really have good tools for managing that diversity or capitalizing on that strength in the classroom. Our current work highlights the really fundamental ways that culture shapes how a person makes meaning of the things they’re learning. If I were teaching now, I would try to find more ways to let kids own their curriculum and own their learning. I would focus even more on the sorts of project-based, community-oriented activities that really engage kids from the starting point of their own self and their own communities. I see teaching now as a process of facilitating kids building new understandings of their worlds, less than as a process of imparting information. I would see myself as much as a learner as the teacher." (5)
ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF HER RESEARCH FOR URBAN KIDS:
And currently our education system does not take into account and does not allow for, or encourage, a culturally diverse way of making sense of, understanding, and thinking about the world ... Urban kids are really in the thick of it – they need to build resilience and a strong acculturated sense of identity. So this kind of research is key to helping us improve education and to getting rid of the achievement gap. We simply must stop wasting the potential among urban kids, so many of whom are not educated in ways that connect to their real lives and strengths." (6)
ABOUT MARY HELEN IMMORDINO-YANG: She is a Professor of Education, Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, and a former urban public junior high-school science teacher. She studies the psychological and neurobiological development of emotion and self-awareness, and connections to social, cognitive and moral development in educational settings. Her work has a special focus on adolescents from low-SES communities, and she involves youths from these communities as junior scientists in her work. Dr. Immordino-Yang has received numerous awards for her research and for her impact on education and society.
By Sam Piha
There is an inscription over a public school in northern Washington state that reads “Waste Not Thy Hour”. It reminds me of how young people’s play is often regarded as a waste. For many, play is the antithesis of learning time, however, there is growing evidence that there is a great deal of learning in play.
In an age of standardized testing and intense academic competition, it’s easy to believe that play is one more thing American children will have to do without. But free play encourages the development of the two skills that no robot can replace: creativity and teamwork. -The Secret Power of Play; Bethan Mooney for TIME (1)
Now is the time to reexamine the value of play, educate our stakeholders, and be unashamed to make play an important part of our afterschool programs. In this post we open the door to this reexamination by offering some information and definitions of terms you may find as you read about play. In a later blog post on play, we offer some additional information and resources to encourage a reexamination of play.
Many afterschool programs prioritize an extension of academics and homework completion over organized play, free play, and physical activity. - The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds (2)
The Move AWAY From Play
Over the years, there has been a pronounced reduction in the time that children spend in play. According to the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (3), this is due to several factors:
There are many terms that one encounters when exploring the issues of play. Below are some definitions that may be helpful.
Characteristics of play (4)
Unstructured play is open-ended play that has no specific learning objective. Unstructured play is often informally referred to as simply "letting kids be kids" or "just play." At times, you may also hear it called "free play" or “self-play."(5)
Unstructured play doesn't usually have any rules or instructions, and the possibilities tend to be unlimited! (6)
Free play is unstructured, voluntary, child-initiated activity that allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them. It is the spontaneous play that comes naturally from children's natural curiosity, love of discovery, and enthusiasm. (7)
Structured play is any type of activity that has a set of rules or instructions with a goal. For example, most games, puzzles, construction toys and organized sports are structured activities (8)
Organized play is ordered, overseen by rules, and managed or directed by another person. (9)
By Guest Blogger Jason Wyman
The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture has been convening and organizing an intergenerational network of youth media practitioners for over 20 years, and in 2019 we are more uncertain than ever what exactly youth media actually is. We've spoken with Youth Filmmakers, Teen Librarians, Teaching Artists, Museum Educators, Executive Directors, Musicians, Youth Organizers, Public School Teachers, Poets and Storytellers and each one has a different understanding of what makes and is youth media. It's beautifully messy and complex. Join The Alliance in an engaging conversation and inquiry into what exactly is youth media on Friday, October 25. Share your voice and shift your perspective.
ABOUT MEDIA LITERACY WEEK
Inspired by Canada’s Media Literacy Week, the 5th annual U.S. Media Literacy Week, October 21-25, 2019, is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). The mission is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education all across the country. Each U.S. Media Literacy Week event calls attention to media literacy education by bringing together hundreds of partners for events and activities around the country.
Whether you are an individual teacher, an employee at an organization, or a researcher, you can get involved with Media Literacy Week by hosting a media literacy event or activity between October 21 and 25. It’s up to you to decide what, when, where, and how you want to execute your Media Literacy Week plans, but NAMLE has put together a list of resources if you need help getting started.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE
The Alliance Youth Media Network convenes, connects, nurtures and sustains strategic development in the broad Youth Media field. We support innovative and emerging models of practice within the fields of youth media, creative youth development, and media literacy. We do this through the collaborative production of a youth media magazine, ongoing Collective Action work, hosting national Video Roundtable conversations, designing and producing youth media conference content with global partners, and through the leadership of an international network of youth media organizations.
All of the programs of our Youth Media Initiative use an intergenerational, co-creative approach as a means to demonstrate the possibilities and impact of a range of youth and elders working collaboratively and inclusively, interrogating power and privilege across program areas. To learn more click here.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.