In the article, Watkins unveils three “big elephants” surrounding school reopening: bad pedagogy, inequitable resources for families, and band-aid supports for children. He asserts that rather than focusing on widely held fallacies about “the purpose and processes of school and public education,” we can re-frame the conversation by focusing on how to create conditions for essential learning.
Watkins highlights Turnaround’s work on the science of adversity and the importance of designing learning conditions that promote supportive environments and developmental relationships:
What are the conditions that would support these kinds of learning experiences? We know that learning is a dynamic and social process, so young people need to be able to interact with one another and with others, of many different ages, to become successful learners. We know that persistent trauma and stress narrow the capacity of the developing brain to be flexible and learn, but that the brain is naturally malleable and flexible when stress and trauma can be managed, and intelligence and ability are not at all fixed factors in young people and adults, if the conditions support that (Turnaround for Children). We know that learners need safe and trusting relationships, and supportive structures to frame the conditions for learning.