"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Got Poverty? Call a Positive Psychologist

As the educational profiteers and snake oil salesmen dig into the text of ESSA to find problems that their phony solutions can be retrofitted to "fix," we are sure to see some real doozies coming down the line. 

Seems the "fix the child, not the problem" school of educational thought disorder is already testing out worn-out ideas in West Virginia, where poverty and hopelessness are being treated with 19th Century conditioning and more jobs for positive psychologists.

If Martin Seligman's mind fixes cannot be shown to have any positive effect on GIs suffering from PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan, maybe they will work on unemployed coal miners' children.  There's plenty of money provided by ESSA to find out how to make poor children immune to economic disability while ignoring poverty for another generation.  

As noted below by the psychologist, Paul Baker, children need to learn "you can shake off what's going on" outside school.  It's all a part of Baker's "multi-tiered" behavioral intervention system that would be entirely appropriate if children were rats.
The Martin County school district, in eastern Kentucky near the West Virginia border, wrestles with poverty and high unemployment rates with the decline of the coal-mining industry. The county is losing population, and 75 percent of its 2,000 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
In 2014, the county was awarded a $310,000 federal school-climate-improvement grants, which it used to start a multitiered behavioral-support system.

Paul Baker, the lead school psychologist for the district, said that the school system is approaching the problem from several directions. It hired two more school psychologists, so that they'd be available to provide more counseling to students who need it. The district also forged robust ties with county agencies that are able to provide additional support.

In addition, the school system created a team-based model that allowed it to pinpoint behavior problems more accurately and to more quickly devise a plan for fixing them. . . .

. . . .Overall, Martin County has adopted the idea that teaching social skills is as much a part of its job as teaching academics, Baker said.

"A school's role is to help mold a child into a productive member of society," he said. "We're trying to teach them how you can shake off what's going on [outside school]. That's a skill that has to be taught."


  1. Anonymous10:58 AM

    A revision of the federal tax code might prove more fruitful.

    Abigail Shure

  2. Religiously speaking, I'm agnostic, but I often find myself pulling for some form of reincarnation. I'm seriously hoping Martin Seligman comes back in his next life as a dog entrapped in a psychology experiment in which he can't escape forced shocks. Either that or a prisoner at GITMO.

  3. They are going to need more psychological help with all the testing those little ones are going to be facing with CBE. ESSA's slapped schools in the face but they're handing out icepacks.