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News and Opinion Sep 15, 2021

A New Purpose for Education: Pamela Cantor M.D. in AFT American Educator Magazine

Turnaround for Children Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Pamela Cantor M.D., authored an article for AFT’s American Educator. In, “A New Purpose for Education,” Cantor discusses the inequities of the current education system and proposes a new vision for learning grounded in whole-child development. The goal of this vision is for all young people, including those facing significant adversity and oppression, to not only learn and develop, but to thrive.

Cantor addresses misconceptions and distinctions around resilience and thriving, and challenges common assumptions about learning, before diving into the science of learning and development. The balance of the article focuses on translating that science into action, discussing how adults can use the principles of whole-child design to build environments that enable all children to thrive. Cantor provides resources for understanding and implementing a whole-child purpose, including the Building Blocks for Learning and the Essential Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole-Child Design.

The article goes on to discuss current issues in education—including racist practices, policies, and institutions, instructional loss, and the collective trauma of COVID-19, and the need for a new education system that reflects an equitable purpose for all learning settings.

“Insights from brain science align profoundly with what so many parents want for their kids, and what so many teachers have been saying for years: that we can create a system that recognizes children as whole people, values their assets, and supports them to excel in myriad ways.”

Cantor ends on an optimistic note by providing examples of whole-child design in action, which demonstrate how schools designed using the levers of human development can unleash the talent and potential of all young people.

Read the full piece here. This issue of American Educator also includes articles from Linda Darling-Hammond and Brooke Stafford-Brizard on equitable learning environments and how some schools are currently using whole-child design, which build on Cantor’s original piece. The full issue is also available in print form.