Teaching Social Skills to Improve Grades and Lives
July 25, 2015 5:04 PM   Subscribe

"In the early 1990s, about 50 kindergarten teachers rated the social and communication skills of 753 children in their classrooms. It was part of the Fast Track Project, a study administered in Durham, N.C., Nashville, Seattle and central Pennsylvania….Using an assessment tool called the “Social Competence Scale,” the teachers assigned each child a score based on qualities that included “cooperates with peers without prompting”; “is helpful to others”; “is very good at understanding feelings”... This month, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke published a study that looked at what happened to those students in the 13 to 19 years since they left kindergarten. Their findings warrant major attention because the teachers’ rankings were extremely prescient."
posted by storybored (22 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
It looks like the researchers tried to control for the non-innateness of the marshmallows, but I wonder if they were completely successful.

“Social and emotional learning has always been a critical foundation of education,” observes Ed Graff, the superintendent of the Anchorage School District. “People are now at a point where they’re beginning to see the true value and benefits of it."

People are just now beginning to see this? I wonder which people he's referring to here.
posted by Tsuga at 5:33 PM on July 25, 2015


I saw this earlier and my first reaction was genuine revulsion, the science aside. I can't imagine some of the sociopathic teachers I had in school being charged with my emotional development -- though I suppose they always were...
posted by gerryblog at 6:06 PM on July 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Study doesn't say you can teach those social skills. It says the kindergarteners who already have them outperform those who didn't.
posted by MattD at 7:39 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suspect that the results would have been just as accurate if predictions had been based solely on socioeconomic status.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:00 PM on July 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


(that said, I love longitudinal studies)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:01 PM on July 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


From the OP:

The researchers had statistically controlled for the effects of poverty, race, having teenage parents, family stress and neighborhood crime, and for the children’s aggression and reading levels in kindergarten.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 8:24 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile in the education reform movement...
If you’re not familiar with No Nonsense Nurturing or NNN, let’s just say that there is more nonsense than nurturing. The approach starts from the view that no nonsenseurban students, like my Lawrence, MA middle schoolers, benefit from a robotic style of teaching that treats, and disciplines, all students the same. This translated into the specific instruction that forbade us from speaking to our students in full sentences. Instead, we were to communicate with them using precise directions. As my students entered the room, I was supposed to say: *In seats, zero talking, page 6, questions, 1-4.* But I don’t even talk to my dog like that. Constant narration of what the students are doing is also key to the NNN teaching style. *Noel is is finishing question 3. Marjorie is sitting silently. Alfredo is on page 6.*
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:12 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great! Now that we have more research supporting the role of early comprehensive education leading to a more productive and equitable national citizenry, we will surely fund and support sophisticated childhood development programs in every district staffed by well compensated very qualified teachers.

Because that's what happened when research supported the role of health equality and income equality in creating a happy productive populace? Right guys? Right?... Guys?
posted by midmarch snowman at 10:20 PM on July 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes. Now shut up and turn to the Genesis chapter of your earth science textbook.
posted by smidgen at 10:47 PM on July 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


As my students entered the room, I was supposed to say: *In seats, zero talking, page 6, questions, 1-4.* But I don’t even talk to my dog like that. Constant narration of what the students are doing is also key to the NNN teaching style. *Noel is is finishing question 3. Marjorie is sitting silently. Alfredo is on page 6.*

I'm behind in my scifi reading. Which dystopic hellscape is this from?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:23 PM on July 25, 2015 [30 favorites]


I watched the promo video for No-Nonsense Nurturing®, as embedded in the blog post, and I just need to note that generic U2-y music, with big unforgettable fire cadences, has become a type of corporate promo video audio wallpaper.

Which dystopic hellscape is this from?
See above.
posted by thelonius at 11:50 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ: No Nonesense Nurturing. These people really just hate children, right?

I am in favor of teaching social skills, for what it's worth. I think I could have benefitted from that. I'm also in favor of a system that respects the humanity of both students and teachers, and apparently that's too much to ask.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:32 AM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Once again Science confirms what observant adults have known all along.

Jesus Christ: No Nonesense Nurturing. These people really just hate children, right?

Where do you see evidence of that? I'm not familiar with the operation and am by nature skeptical of anyone after money, but I don't see a whole lot on the web site or its parent web site to suggest bitterness towards or contempt of children. Rather the contrary. What am I missing?

Yes. Now shut up and turn to the Genesis chapter of your earth science textbook.

Seriously? I don't see that you can draw any connection between a belief in Creationism and desirable social development.

But since you raise the point, I was disappointed that the article makes no mention of Christian schools and how they rank in the mix. I would guess above average, ditto magnet schools, and for the same reason - they are schooling by choice with strong parental involvement. Which, according to the various inner city school teachers I have known over several decades, is not the case in failing schools.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:58 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where do you see evidence of that? I'm not familiar with the operation and am by nature skeptical of anyone after money, but I don't see a whole lot on the web site or its parent web site to suggest bitterness towards or contempt of children. Rather the contrary. What am I missing?
You're missing any perspective that doesn't come from the marketing materials of the company selling this program. Luckily The Washington Post has republished the blog post from a teacher who was required to use the No-Nonsense Nurturing method, as well as a response from the CEO of the corporation that sells the method. The CEO doesn't in any way refute her description.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:08 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


IndigoJones is talking about the fpp and ArbitraryAndCapricious is talking about the No Nonsense Nurturing. Ya'll agree, just referencing different things. (Right?) The social development article is not part of NNN, which seeks to remove all social development- or worse; pervert it.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:59 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The social development article is not part of NNN, which seeks to remove all social development- or worse; pervert it.

Well, the NNN promo doesn't mention anything but "academic success" and classroom management, and it seems to actively discourage any interaction with children that deviates from a script, so I'm inclined to agree.
posted by thelonius at 8:02 AM on July 26, 2015


In seats, zero talking, page 6, questions, 1-4

I can imagine some students really liking this style (including myself), provided there were separate times for individual attention and more emotional communication. You can't really have a genuine personal interaction with 30 students at once, which is how instruction is delivered. It seems more trustworthy, to me, to save the sweet words and personal recognition for one-on-one time.
posted by amtho at 8:16 AM on July 26, 2015


OK, I hadn't read the article before commenting. The inflexibility they seemed to advocate seems maddening. At least registering students as individuals is important. Geez Louise.
posted by amtho at 8:34 AM on July 26, 2015


I have not yet read any of these links, but I'm having trouble parsing the name of the program as anything other than "No-Nurturing Nonsense," given the pull quotes and description above.
posted by Alterscape at 9:14 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's pretty amazing working in a high school and seeing different behaviors across entire classes & cohorts. One class is full of combative brats; the next year is super sweet. Sometimes it's just a matter of a single class--say, 5th period Lit (5th seems to be where the wheels most frequently fall of the wagon for me)--while the rest are more of a mixed bag, but then those kids from 5th somehow travel through the school schedule together and almost all of 'em land in all the same classes.

But then, sometimes, it's the whole damn year. And yes, there are exceptions, but for the school I sub at the most...I miss the hell out of the class of 2011, I could've fired the class of 2012 out of a cannon, and I found 2013 to be dull, dull, dull.

Given that these kids can come from a pretty broad spread economically, I've usually attributed it to whatever happens to them at the early elementary level.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:20 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]




NO ONE IS TEACHING MY CHILDREN FEELINGS. HOW DARE THEY
posted by SassHat at 10:32 AM on August 5, 2015


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