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Blog May 7, 2021

New Book from Pamela Cantor, M.D. and Colleagues for Cambridge University Press on Whole-Child Development, Learning, and Thriving


By Brigid Ahern, President and CEO, Turnaround for Children


I am incredibly excited to share a just-released book from Cambridge University Press’ Cambridge Elements series that Turnaround for Children’s Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Pamela Cantor, M.D., has written with Richard Lerner, Karen Pittman, Paul Chase, and Nora Gomperts. “Whole-Child Development, Learning, and Thriving: A Dynamic Systems Approach” is available for free download until May 19, 2021.

If you know the basics of the science of learning and development and want to go deeper; if you know that the factory model of education and standardized approaches to measurement are insufficient and inequitable but can’t imagine an alternative; or if you believe that there is potential in every child and want to know how to unleash it – this book is a great place to start.

The book makes a case for using 21st century science to design a 21st century education system that reveals the boundless potential of all children. The authors dig deeply into the science to explain how children develop through a system of dynamic relationships and the collective set of contexts that they experience across their life spans. They name and challenge the fallacies that drove the design of the 20th century education system and propose a new purpose for a 21st century education system – creating environments in which all children can thrive. The book also:

  • Presents a new approach to measurement that captures the individuality and potential of each child
  • Elevates the work and wisdom of scholars of psychology, education, human development, race, culture, individuality, and measurement
  • Offers examples of organizations applying the principles of whole-child design; and
  • Highlights perspectives from leaders, including Linda Darling-Hammond, Margaret Beale Spencer, David Osher, Brooke Stafford-Brizard, and Na’ilah Suad Nasir

Regardless of why you choose to read it, I hope you will take from it what I have: that we have the knowledge and responsibility today to act – to build the education system that all of our young people need – an education system that does not oppress or constrain students, but instead enables each and every child to develop the skills, competencies, identities, passions, and interests that will help them thrive in school and beyond.

In this current moment, many are asking: How can we meet students’ holistic needs, make up for lost instructional time, and accelerate learning? If we are collectively committed to answering these questions and using this moment to reimagine and transform our education system, this book can be part of our foundation and guide. It will help us meet urgent, acute needs and build a better, more equitable future.

Thank you to the scholars whose work is represented in this book, to the practitioners who are working tirelessly to translate the science into practice, to the authors and contributors, and to you, for your commitment to a better, more equitable future for young people. I hope you will download, read, and share the book. As a teaser, read the Foreword, written by Todd Rose.