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Grit, Academic Success Could Be Tied to Genetics, Study Suggests

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A new psychology study from the University of Texas at Austin suggests that character traits, including the desire to learn…have their roots in genetics and could play a role in future academic success. While academic achievement is typically the result of cognitive abilities including logic and reasoning, researchers say that particular personality and character traits have the ability to shape and influence the desire to learn. Performed by UT Austin psychology associate professor Elliot Tucker-Drob, the study noted that genetic differences in people make up close to 50% of the differences in their character. The remaining variation in character was the result of environmental factors outside of the home as well as school environments.”(more)

Essay contributes to national study on foreign language learning

Penn State News – Kristie Auman-Bauer

“Society is becoming increasingly multilingual and more engaged around the globe — yet as many as 80 percent of Americans speak only one language, compared to 50 percent of Europeans over the age of 15 who can converse in a second language.
 To help address this issue, two Penn State researchers were recently commissioned to write an essay on the consequences of multilingualism…Kroll and Dussias’s essay, “What are the Benefits of Multilingualism to the Personal and Professional Development of Residents of this Country?” is the first to be posted on the commission’s website and dispels many of the criticisms of multilingualism in the U.S…recent research indicates multilingualism provides multiple benefits to individuals of all ages. “Young babies are not confused by hearing two or more languages and actually are more open to new learning languages,” Kroll reported. “Adult learners also have the ability to acquire a second language…Multilingualism changes the brain in positive ways across the lifespan.””(more)

Major Harvard Gift Spurs Early Childhood Education Study

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“The Harvard Graduate School of Education has announced that it will be using a $35 million gift to launch a new early childhood program that will conduct one of the largest studies performed in decades on pre-K education. “It’s one of the most significant investments in early childhood education,” said the graduate school’s dean, James Ryan. “I think it will give us the capacity to tackle some of the most important issues and challenges in early childhood education, which are basically about how you create high quality pre-K for all kids.”…The study will focus on the key questions facing policymakers today, including those concerning scale, the long-term impacts of early education, and what is needed for a successful model.”(more)

Bringing Brain Science to Early Childhood

The Atlantic – Emily Deruy

“A group of scholars at Harvard University is spearheading a campaign to make sure the early-childhood programs policymakers put in place to disrupt intergenerational poverty are backed by the latest science. The idea sounds entirely reasonable, but it’s all too rare in practice, says Jack P. Shonkoff, the director of the university’s Center on the Developing Child and the chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. That’s because program grants and policies are generally structured in ways that incentivize “positive” results…On Wednesday, the center will publish a report that calls for an online and in-person network that uses recent advances in scientists’ understanding of the way young brains grow to create and test early-childhood interventions…In short, the idea is to invest in different people and programs who understand the science behind child development and give them the ability to test different interventions.”(more)

When Kids Create Their Own Playground

The Atlantic – Katherine Martinelli

“Adventure playgrounds aren’t a new concept. Also known as waste-material playgrounds, they were popularized in Europe and the U.K. after World War II, when people realized that kids were playing in bombed-out lots…The primary components of an adventure playground are moveable parts (which can include items like boxes, pipes, paint, hammers, and even saws) and trained, paid grown-up “playworkers,” who oversee and facilitate the play without interfering…Shifts in parenting trends are reviving interest in waste-material playgrounds. So-called helicopter parenting, in which parents hover and rush in at the first sign of distress, is increasingly being called out by authors and researchers writing books and articles about the importance of letting children fail, working out their own problems, and developing independence.​”(more)

Congress Confronts a Balancing Act Between Education Research Data and Student Privacy Rights


“During a U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, lawmakers heard testimony on the federal government’s role in making sure researchers and education technology companies are able to use student data in meaningful ways while keeping sensitive information secure from hackers and companies looking to exploit the information for profit…Neil Campbell, the director of next generation reforms at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, told the committee effective privacy policies require “a delicate balance” between parents’ desire for privacy and innovation in schools…“As important as research is,” Campbell said, “we know it is even more important to protect students’ privacy.””(more)