September 22, 2017
Using the science of learning to build equitable learning environments
By Zoë Stemm-Calderon
Director, Education

Last week, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to join educators, school administrators and youth advocates to discuss how policy, research, and philanthropy each play a role in advancing the science behind social and emotional learning.

During the event, hosted by the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, a key question emerged: “How can researchers and philanthropists do more to help education leaders use what we know about learning and development?”

I appreciated my fellow panelist, DC Chancellor Antoine Wilson’s response, in which he emphasized that we need less researchers and philanthropists dictating narrow “shoulds” to educators, and more collaboration and support in pursuit of the right aims. In our collective experience at Raikes, we’ve found it doesn’t work to distribute funding based on established ideologies that dictate what educators and learners should do, even those that are evidence-based. Instead, we’re in pursuit of a broader aim—to create equitable learning environments where all students can succeed—and use our funding to support collaborations across educators, researchers, and the youth and families they serve

Fortunately, many of the funders we partner with share this very same belief and have this broader goal in mind. Collectively, we’re working to see what’s possible when we come together to build equitable education systems. We’re lucky to work with partners who are using emerging science and research to better understand how learning and development happens so we can create equitable and responsible learning environments for the future.

While we were having this conversation in D.C., the Mindset Scholars Network at Stanford University released a new video that synthesizes research on how educators can foster three key learning mindsets—growth, belonging, and purpose—to strengthen students’ abilities to learn and grow.

The video from the Mindset Scholars Network is yet another example of how new insights into learning can help us build the kind of inclusive, connected, and relevant learning environments that support all young people to thrive.  But only if we work in partnership with the education leaders, teachers, students, and families that can use it in pursuit of their own goals for building the education system our young people and our country need and deserve.