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News and Opinion Sep 15, 2021

Pamela Cantor, M.D., Op-Ed in Angela Duckworth’s Education Week Column: What 9/11 Can Teach Us Today

Turnaround for Children Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Pamela Cantor, M.D., wrote an op-ed for Angela Duckworth’s “Ask A Psychologist” column in Education Week on what 9/11 can teach us today about creating safe spaces for students to express who they are and what they’re going through.

In answering the question, “How do I make sure I really get to know my students this year?” Cantor shares the story of Thomas, a young New Yorker primarily concerned with the violence in his community following the attacks of 9/11, and how his teacher created a safe, trusting environment in which he felt free to express himself and what he was experiencing at that time.

Cantor goes on to discuss the science behind trusting relationships and their role in creating safe spaces where students feel comfortable being their true selves:

We do know one thing: People of all ages, especially adolescents, want and need to be with other people. That’s not only normal, it’s biological.

Research shows that each person develops—down to the cellular level—through experiences and dynamic interactions with their environment and the people in their life. Trusting relationships trigger the body to release oxytocin, a powerful hormone that not only buffers stress but also builds resilience, ignites learning, and boosts motivation.

Read the op-ed here.