All In The Family, Part 2
Truancy. Drug use. Failing grades. Academic failure has often been explained as a function of poverty, class, even poor nutrition. But now, childhood trauma is increasingly being seen as a major factor in academic under-achievement. IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell explores what happened at one high school when suspensions and punishments were replaced with new "trauma-informed" approaches. Part 3 airs Wednesday, August 17.
"If you're deemed to be the bad kid that's better than being the stupid kid, so he'd rather throw a desk, then be called out for the fact that he can't read."
However, some schools in America are pursuing the idea of integrating "grit" into the curriculum. In fact, researcher Angela Duckworth has devised a "grit scale" to measure traits like zest, optimism and gratitude. But educators are learning that when it comes to traumatized children, relying on "grit" or "character" is not enough, because social and emotional deficits can under-cut intellectual progress. That's what Jim Sporleder learned when he took over as principal of Lincoln Alternative -- a Washington state high school for high-risk kids. After learning through neuroscience what trauma does to a teenager's brain, he abandoned his traditional disciplinarian approach and completely re-thought how to interact with his student population. The results were extraordinary. The "trauma-informed" practises Jim Sporleder learned have become part of a growing network of schools, social service agencies and medical clinics that are spreading throughout North America.
Participants in the progam:
Jim Sporleder, (past) principal, Lincoln Alternative High School, Walla Walla, Washington.
Brooke Bouchey, (past) intervention specialist, Lincoln Alternative High School, Walla Walla, Washington.
John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and best-selling author. He is also an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Teri Barilla, Children's Resilience Initiative, Washington.
Chelsea Humphrey, graduate of Lincoln Alternative School, Walla Walla Washington.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences Study - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Resilience Trumps Aces
- Center for the Developing Child
- How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
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Heather Forbes, Help for Billy: A beyond Consequences Approach to Helping Challenging Children in the Classroom. Boulder, CO.: Beyond Consequences Institute, 2012.
Charlotte Silver, Can Childhood Trauma Shorten Your Life? Alternet, 24 Dec. 2013.
Martin H. Teicher, Scars that Won't Heal: The Neurobiology of Child Abuse, Scientific American, March, 2002
David Bornstein, Teaching Children to Calm Themselves
Rebecca Ruiz, How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD. The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 July 2014.
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John Medina, Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five. Seattle, Washington, Pear, 2010.
Daniel Siegel, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York: Bantam, 2010.