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Life is a learning curve

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1 Life is a learning curve
Maresa Duignan Early Years Education Policy Unity Department of Education and Science Office for the Minister of Children and Youth Affairs

2 Overview The policy context Definitions The theory bit!
Family learning Lifelong learning Early childhood care and education The theory bit! What this looks like in practice Challenges and opportunities

3 ‘Education, Education, Education’
The ‘Learning’ Agenda Increasing Ireland’s competitiveness Creating and supporting the ‘Knowledge Economy’ Extending ‘e-awareness’, & ICT access & competence Combating ‘Social Exclusion’ Improving student achievement in key subject areas e.g. science/maths/literacy Widening participation in learning beyond school Enhancing key & specific skills for work Improving individuals’ employability Resourcing communities & capacity building Renewing & strengthening citizenship Building learning cultures ‘Education, Education, Education’

4 the personal, social and professional fulfillment of all citizens;
Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’) THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION Agrees that In the period up to 2020, the primary goal of European cooperation should be to support the further development of education and training systems in the Member States which are aimed at ensuring: the personal, social and professional fulfillment of all citizens; sustainable economic prosperity and employability, whilst promoting democratic values, social cohesion, active citizenship, and intercultural dialogue.

5 European Union Targets
In addition, EU-level benchmarks have been set for 2010 and The benchmarks to be achieved by 2020 are: at least 95% of children between 4 years old and the age for starting compulsory primary education should participate in early childhood education. the share of low-achieving 15-years olds in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15%. the share of early leavers from education and training9 should be less than 10%. the share of year olds with tertiary educational attainment8 should be at least 40%. an average of at least 15 % of adults should participate in lifelong Learning

6 The Knowledge Economy The drive to create a knowledge economy also requires money to be spent in a strategic way. If, given our current economic difficulties, there must be cuts in the education sector (and those cuts do not change the population of Marlborough Street) it must be made clear that cuts made at the primary and secondary level have a deeper economic and social impact than at any other level. Research conducted by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman has made it clear that the majority of cognitive and non-cognitive skills necessary for participation in economic activity are largely acquired by the age of 12 and that investment and social and educational interventions should be at their highest prior to that age. Ireland’s knowledge economy needs a rethink Sunday Business Post - August 10, By Charles Larkin and Dr Jacco Thijssen

7 Definitions 1 - Learning
Learning = education? Education as a socially constructed concept Influences on our current concepts of the role of education Familial – e.g. reproduction of values Cultural – persistence of identity e.g. language, literature, art, skills etc.. Societal – citizenship, national pride, Political – competitiveness, fuelling the economy

8 What about…. Empathy Resilience Curiosity Persistence Problem solving
Day dreaming?


10 Family Learning Family Learning is an umbrella term which describes a wide variety of educational intervention programmes that have an intergenerational focus in their design and delivery Clare Family Learning, 2009

11 Key Points Parents are the first and most natural teachers of their children The home is a very valuable learning place The parental involvement on a child’s learning is eight times more important than any other factor, such as occupation of parent, in increasing a child’s achievement in school’(Feinstein and Symons 1999:51)

12 Empowering Families to help themselves
Contributes to increased community engagement Higher level of self esteem Higher educational aspirations Empowering Families to help themselves Training Better communication Better health (mental & physical) Employment Lower crime figures

13 Lifelong Learning The lifelong, lifewide, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. As such, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development, but also competitiveness and employability. Source: Wikipedia, Department of Education and Science, 2000, EU Commission, 2006

14 Early Childhood Care and Education
The term early childhood education and care (ECEC) includes all arrangements providing care and education for children under compulsory school age, regardless of setting, funding, opening hours, or programme content. Starting Strong II (OECD,2006)

15 In Ireland… Despite the fact that, historically, the term ‘childcare’ is used to refer to services for children aged birth to six years, it is evident that it cannot be interpreted narrowly and should be understood as interchangeable with ‘early childhood education’ and with the more widely used and accepted term of Early Childhood Care and Education. (OMCYA, 2009) Includes services such as full and part-time day care, sessional pre-schools and playgroups, childminders and after school clubs and infant classes in primary schools. Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education, 2006

16 The context for learning
Child Family Community Social Policy

17 Neuroscience of Brain Development
Brain is not mature at birth Brain is changed by experiences Critical periods imply timing is important Relationships program social emotional function Adversity impacts brain development


19 Brain is Changed By Experiences



22 Window of Opportunity - ECD
Sensing Language Pathways Higher (vision, hearing) Cognitive Function Human abilities form very early and in predictable sequence of sensitive periods – For example: Language does not suddenly appear at some pre-determined age in some pre-determined fashion but rather, emerges after a child ha begun to engage with his or her caregivers in such co-regulated activities as sharing, requesting, imitating, playing, naming, describing, apologizing, etc. -6 -3 3 6 9 1 4 8 12 16 Months Years Conception AGE C. Nelson, in From Neurons to Neighborhoods, 2000 22 22

23 Relationships Program Social Emotional Function

24 Adversity Impacts Brain Development

25 Maternal Depression Common
Higher rates in inner city, poor, single mothers Multiple impacts Treatable

26 Depressed Mothers: Response Patterns to Infants
Express less positive and more negative affects Less attentive and more disengaged When engaged are more intrusive and controlling Fail to respond adaptively to infant emotional signals

27 Infants of Depressed Mothers
Shorter attention spans Less motivation to master new tasks Elevated heart rates Elevated cortisol Reduce EEG activity right frontal cortex

28 Clinical and Epidemiological Research
Many mental health problems have their origin early in a child’s life Many health problems of adults have their origin early in life

29 Public Policy Research
Brain development and public investment are not synchronized

30 OPPORTUNITY AND INVESTMENT Brain’s Wiring and Development
BRAIN DEVELOPMENT – OPPORTUNITY AND INVESTMENT Brain’s Wiring and Development Spending on Health, Education, Income Support, Social Services and Crime Brain Malleability Intensity of Brain’s Devel. Public Expend. Birth Age Conception

31 Missed Opportunity to Invest
Cumulative percent of public spending on children 0–18 Percent of total brain growth 100 100 80 80 Brain growth 60 60 40 40 Given what we know about the significance of the first three years of life, as individuals and a society, we need to ask ourselves what the optimal pattern of investment would be for our children, both by families and collectively, through our government. Currently, as illustrated in the chart, the bulk of public-sector spending on children occurs during the school-age years (Haveman and Wolfe, 1995). For example, 8% of all public spending (by the federal, state, and local governments) that will be spent on the average child has occurred by age 5, one-quarter of the time spent in childhood. Per- child public spending averages about $1,472 per year (in 1992 dollars) for children through age 5. This includes expenditures on such programs as early childhood development, welfare, and health care. For children age 6 to 18, public spending averages $6,567 per child per year (in 1992 dollars). The increase is due primarily to expenditures on primary and secondary schools. Other public expenditures at those ages include funds for criminal justice, youth employment, and other youth programs. The relationship between the two curves in the chart poses a challenge for policymakers: Does this time path of spending represent a missed opportunity? Is there evidence that greater investments in early childhood would produce short- and long-run benefits? Public spending 20 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Age in years

32 Children who start behind stay behind
Children who start behind stay behind Learning gaps are set early in life Academic Abilities of Entering Kindergartens by Family Income Gaps in achievement between children from different SES are a cause for concern. Research in the US shows that 1/3 of middle class children and nearly ½ of low income children don’t recognize letter of alphabet upon entering kg. Studies shows that by high school these are the children who are at risk of drop out. Children who start behind stay behind. There is a growing body of knowledge and evidence on the impact of a aligned coordinated preschool to primary school curriculum on children’s learning and development. Long terms studies comparing aligned curriculum with unaligned curriculum show that children participating in aligned curriculum have increase math, reading and social skills . Increased number of elementary schools also recognize the advantages of aligning instruction with pre-K programs. So working together preschool and primary school can significantly increase the smooth transition and prepare children to enter school ready to learn. Ensuring that every kid leave each grade with appropriate social, emotional and academic skills they need to succeed in the next grade. Source: Schulman, K., and W. S. Barnett The Benefits of Prekindergarten for Middle-Income Children. NIEER Policy Report. New Brunswick, N.J.: National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

33 Readiness to Learn Trajectory as measured by Child Development
Compliance to simple requests Emotional control Effective peer interactions Birth mo mo mo mo ys ys ys Nascent awareness of standards Nascent emotional regulation Nascent selfhood/identity Entry into verbal milieu Physiological regulation Social relationships

34 Disparities in Early Vocabulary Growth
1200 College Educated Parents Working Class Parents 600 Cumulative Vocabulary (Words) Welfare Parents Differences in development appear very early -- in this instance, differences in vocabulary growth between children in low socio-economic households and high socio-economic households begin to appear as early as 18 months. And as the children grow toward school age, and enter school, the differences only get larger in the absence of intervention. For example, Hart and Risley (1995) have shown that word accumulation, or vocabulary, begins very early in life and that differences are apparent at 36 months of age among children from different social groups. These differences in verbal skills continue—along trajectories—and are still present at age 9, when the children are in the formal school system. Yet, Hart and Risley also showed that if children from a poorer socioeconomic class had good parenting (including the same degree of verbal interaction had by children from the more affluent group), their test scores at ages 3 and 9 were as good as those of the children in the high socioeconomic group. The findings are evidence of the importance of good parent–child interactions and stimulation, especially for children in poorer socioeconomic settings. Similarly, Fuchs and Recklis (1994) showed that the characteristics of children (for example, readiness to learn by kindergarten) and of their household (for example, mother’s education) had much larger effects on students’ performance (that is, test scores) in the 8th grade than did classroom variables (such as child–staff ratio). Being ready to learn when entering school and enjoying a stimulating home environment have lasting effects. 200 16 mos. 24 mos. 36 mos. Child’s Age (Months) Source: Hart & Risley (1995) Slide by The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

35 Life Long Learning Trajectories School Readiness & Mental Health
Trajectory 1 B Ready Not Ready Trajectory 2 D A Mental Health Function C Healthy Externalizing Disorder (Learning Disability) Birth 5ys ys

36 Influence of Risk Reduction and Health Promotion Strategies on Health Development
20 Health Development 40 60 80 Age (Years) RR Risk Reduction Strategies HP Health Promotion Strategies Risk Factors Without RR and HP Strategies RR RR RR HP HP HP Protective Factors This figure illustrates how risk reduction strategies can mitigate the influence of risk factors on the developmental trajectory, and how health promotion strategies can simultaneously support and optimize the developmental trajectory. In the absence of effective risk reduction and health promotion, the developmental trajectory will be sub-optimal (dotted curve).

37 Optimal development Trajectories Lack of health services
Strategies to Improve Optimal development Trajectories Family Discord Factors associated with optimal development: Social-emotional, Physical Cognitive, Language Age 6 mo mo mo mo 3 yrs yrs Ready to learn Lack of health services Pre-school Appropriate Discipline Poverty Reading to child Parent education Emotional literacy Birth Early Infancy Late Infancy Early Toddler Late Toddler Early Preschool Late Preschool

38 Optimal Development Trajectory
Service sectors and Programs that positive influence Birth 6 mo 12 mo 18 mo 24 mos yrs yrs yrs Health Primary health care (parent and child), acute, developmental and preventive care Pre/perinatal care Education Early Intervention Programs High quality Pre school Parenting and Family Learning Programs Social Care/ & Family Services Center and Home Based Family Resource Programs Child Care Programs

39 Coordinated Governance Children Ready for Success
Early Childhood Development System Across programs and connected to other systems Coordinated Governance And Financing Programs that meet Standards Programs Program Standards and Early Learning and Development Guidelines To consumers, public and private sector Engagement & Outreach Children Ready for Success Compliance with standards and ongoing technical support Health, Nutrition, Mental Health, Disability Services Parenting and Family Support Monitoring and Improvement Comprehensive Services Workforce Development Core competencies Access to Training and Higher Education, Credentialing Adapted from the State Early Childhood Policy Technical Assistance Network, J.Lombardi, 2007

40 The Challenge to be met? The ‘disappeared’ - absent, excluded, uninvolved, bunking off, just not there The ‘disaffected’ - bored, uninspired, turned off, uninterested, hostile, difficult, disruptive The ‘disappointed’ - frustrated, let down, poor experience The ‘discouraged’ - damaged, ridiculed, feelings of failure The ‘disillusioned’ - hopes dashed, feel betrayed, let down The ‘disfranchised’ - excluded from the joys, pleasures opportunities & multiple advantages of learning With apologies to Michael Barber’s The Learning Game

41 Main Lifelong Learning Challenges & Barriers
Barriers of confidence, time, cost, opportunity & information Persistently narrow conceptions of learning Marked social class & age differences of opportunity, participation, achievement & qualification Major problems of adult literacy & numeracy Inadequate employer support, provision & commitment (especially in SMEs) Problems of funding adult learning equitably Need for more responsiveness & flexibility of supply

42 Discovering & Nurturing the ‘Treasure Within’
“…none of the talents which are hidden like buried treasure in every person must be left untapped. These are, to name but a few: memory, reasoning power, imagination, physical ability, aesthetic sense, the aptitude to communicate with others and the natural charisma of the group leader, which again goes to prove the need for greater self-knowledge.” Jacques Delors Learning: The Treasure Within UNESCO 1997

43 Delivering a ‘Learning Revolution’
Raise the aspirations & achievement of all children Release the energy & creativity of inspirational teachers Involve parents & families in children’s & their own learning Multiply& diversify ‘learning beyond school’ activities Sharply widen participation in FE & HE, especially part-time Invest in ICT & broadcasting to support learning Secure learning entitlements at, through & for work Strengthen community capacity, confidence, social capital, self-activity & ‘trust’ Combat & reduce sharply social exclusion & inequality Reinvent citizenship -fit for the 21st century

44 Learning Citizens for the 21st Century
Comfortable with own identity, with confidence & self-esteem High levels of technical skills & competences Curious , inquisitive & eager to explore Creative, inventive & innovative Tolerant of ‘difference’- open to the experiences of ‘other’ A sense of both self & society - independent & cooperative Skills to ‘shuffle’ back & forth between ideas & concepts and data, evidence & experience Critical & analytical thinking - including auto-critique Knowing ‘how to know’ - having learned to learn Confidence to sift, evaluate, review &synthesise Both learner & teacher

45 Making Learning Normal
Beyond fear and dread Confidence and self-esteem Achievement and progress Linked to own life’s priorities Where, when and how you like “Woven” into everyday life A sense of ownership & control

46 Where to now? Coordination of all relevant interventions
Family Learning – ECCE – Schools etc… Child and Learner centred approach to delivery of education related service provision Make the ‘system’ fit the learner Recognition of achievement/learning Key moments

47 Will it Never End?

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