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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Tag: Education

Childhood Trauma Shown to Shorten Lifespan

“Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today,” explained Dr. Robert Block, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In a Ted Talk given by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the effects of childhood trauma throughout one’s lifetime, she revealed that childhood trauma increases the risk for seven of the ten leading causes of death in the USA.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris giving her Ted Talk. CC Image Courtesy of the Nadine Burke Harris website.

For those who are exposed to high levels of childhood trauma, life expectancy is 20 years shorter. They are also three times more likely to develop heart disease and lung cancer.

Dr. Burke Harris then summarized what she has been studying: adverse childhood experiences, referred to as ACEs, and their effect on health throughout one’s lifetime. ACEs include:

  • physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • physical or emotional neglect
  • parental mental illness
  • substance dependence
  • incarceration
  • parental separation or divorce
  • domestic violence

For every ACE that applied to the participant, they would get a point on their ACE score.

According to the study, 67% of the population has experienced at least one ACE.

The study then revealed that the higher one’s ACE score, the worse their physical and mental health outcomes tend to be.

It has been shown that growing up in lower income households often presents more severe levels of trauma for children. Unfortunately, this is a common dilemma for many. One out of every five children is born into poverty, and the cycle is difficult to break.

As seen with our 2017 Go Big Read bookHillbilly Elegy, author J.D. Vance grew up in a low-income household, facing adversities, which impacted his life as an adult.

Author J.D. Vance pictured with his grandmother. CC Image Courtesy of the J.D. Vance website.

Not only is it more likely for children in poor families to posses a high ACEs score, but it has also been noted that being raised in a low income household disturbs children’s brain development and academic performance.

In his memoir, Vance explained that when his mother moved him away from the comfort of his grandparents, he was unable to sleep, had depressed feelings, and his grades plummeted.

According to an article on the effect of childhood poverty on development and educational outcomes, children in chronically poor families have “lower cognitive and academic performance” and higher levels of behavior problems than children who are not poor.

It is painfully clear that childhood trauma and the environment that the child matures in can have a lifetime effect on their health and development. Although there have been large numbers of studies on these effects, finding a solution is not as straightforward.

However, Dr. Burke Harris remains hopeful.

“This is treatable. This is beatable… We are the movement.”

Gillian Keebler
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

Madison Schools Address Needs of Homeless Students

The most recent piece in the Wisconsin State Journal’s series on homelessness examines the relationship between a child’s insecure housing situation and their education. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 1,414 students were identified as homeless throughout the 2014-15 school year in the Madison School District, and even this count is most likely lower than the actual number. Homelessness causes unique stresses for students experiencing it as anxieties about what they will eat and where they will sleep distract from the concentration needed to focus on school. Yet a review of research by the Family Housing Fund reveals that early and constant intervention by schools can minimize and reverse the effects of homelessness.

K’won Watson, a six-year-old at Hawthorne Elementary School, experienced these efforts first-hand while living with his mother and baby brother at the Salvation Army homeless shelter. When he enrolled in kindergarten in October 2015, he received school supplies and free lunches in addition to getting his school fees waived. Further assistance was provided by the district’s Transition Education Program, which was founded in 1989 and works to help homeless students. K’won received intensive reading support and was able to work with Hawthorne’s positive behavior support coach. This network of assistance provided the resources and stability K’won needed in order to concentrate in class.

Unable to find housing after exceeding the maximum amount of time families are allowed to stay at the Salvation Army shelter, K’won’s mother moved their family back to Chicago in the middle of the school year, a sadly common occurrence for students at Hawthorne Elementary. Still, the teachers and support staff there hope they were able to make a positive impact on him.

Says teacher Jani Koester, “If we’re going to break the cycle of homelessness, we have to look at the needs of the children. They have to have hope that their lives can be different.”

You can read the full article by the Wisconsin State Journal here.

ASPIREist Features Clint Smith

ASPIREist is a new half-hour reality feature news show. Each episode has three features ranging a wide variety of topics. The purpose of the show, according to its website, is to “empower 21st century viewers to take action on issues that matter.” Each feature ends with a way for the viewer to take action about that particular issue.

The first episode features Clint Smith, a researcher of the intersections between race, education, and incarceration from Harvard University. His feature called “The New Jim Crow,” like the Michelle Alexander book, focuses on issues similar to what Bryan Stevenson talks about in Just Mercy. He talks about the the racial inequality in the criminal justice system, children in prison, and the greater problem of mass incarceration. View the feature below.

One of the show’s other personalities is Shiza Shahid, a previous Go Big Read speaker. To view her features, visit the ASPIREist YouTube page here.

For more information about ASPIREist, click here.

TBT: Emma Watson interviews Malala Yousafzai

NPR profiled a recent interview with Malala Yousafzai in the article “Viral Video: Emma Watson Inspires Malala to Call Herself A Feminist.” The video shows Emma Watson, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, having a conversation with Malala for the Into Film Festival. The annual, free film festival is a celebration of film and education for 5-19 year olds across the United Kingdom.

Watson and Malala talked about Malala’s new film “He Named Me Malala.” In the interview Malala said that she hopes it is “not just a movie but a movement.” Malala also talked about how she was inspired by Watson’s 2014 HeForShe speech by saying “When you said ‘if not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided that there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist, so I am a feminist. And feminism is another word for equality.” They concluded the conversation by talking about the importance of education for all girls and all children around the world.

Watch the interview below.

To read the article “Viral Video: Emma Watson Inspires Malala to Call Herself A Feminist” click here.

Watch the trailer for “He Named Me Malala” below.

 

Second Chance Pell Pilot Program for Incarcerated Individuals

Image from: Equal Justice Initiative

Image from: Equal Justice Initiative

At the end of July, the U.S. Department of Education announced that some incarcerated Americans will once again have the opportunity to be eligible for Pell Grants. In 1994 federal student aid for people in prison was cut, despite research that shows that education programs in prisons reduce recidivism rates. According to a 2013 study, funded by the Department of Justice, those who participated in correctional education were 43% less likely to go back to prison after being released for three years, than those who had no correctional education. The Second Chance Pell Pilot Program will test ways to help incarcerated individuals receive Pell Grants and pursue secondary education.

For more information, read the press release from the Department of Education here.

To read the Equal Justice Initiative’s post about this click here.

World Book Day is today March 5, 2015

In October, Malala spoke at the Edinburgh International Book Festival about the importance of books and education for all children. She was introduced by Harry Potter series author, J.K. Rowling. Below is what Rowling had this to say about Malala: “Malala is an inspiration to girls and women all over the world. It is a real honour for me to introduce her at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.”

After being introduced by Rowling, Malala was interviewed by Nelufar Hedayet. Below are some of Malala’s quotes about the importance of books and education:

My story is the story of thousands of children from around the world. I hope it inspires others to stand up for their rights.

If we want to see the next big change (of every child going to school) we need to become the change ourselves and bring the change.

More information about Malala and World Book Day can be found here.
Her interview can be found here.

Malala’s school uniform to go on display

The Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition 2014-Malala and Kailash opens this Friday at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. The Exhibition tells the story of Malala and Kailash’s fight for children’s rights. Malala has recorded a personal video message and she provided the Nobel Peace Center with family photos of her life in Swat Valley that will be displayed at the exhibit. However, the most shocking part of the exhibit without a doubt will be the display of Malala’s blood stain school uniform from the day she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. The uniform will be on display at Malala’s own request.

In an interview for the exhibition Malala explained why she requested her uniform be displayed, “My school uniform is very important to me because when I was going to school I would wear it, the day I was attacked I was wearing this uniform. I was fighting for my right to go to school..to get education. Wearing a uniform made me feel that yes, I am a student. It is an important part of my life, now I want to show it to children, to people all around the world. This is my right, it is the right of every child, to go to school. This should not be neglected.”

Malala’s uniform has been kept by Malala’s family ever since the assassination attempt in October 2012. The executive director of the of the Nobel Peace Center, Bente Erichsen, said that “Malala’s blood-stained uniform is a strong and heartbreaking symbol of the forces many girls are fighting for the right to go to school. We are grateful that Malala has chosen to show it to the public in our exhibition.”

The exhibition will be free and open to the public from December 12th till August 31st, 2015. Below are pictures of the Nobel Peace Prize Exhibit team displaying Malala’s uniform and Malala’s explanation of why she requested that her uniform be on display.



House of Representatives passes Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act

Last week the United States House of Representatives passed the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act. The act encourages the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to continue to support Pakistani education initiatives, especially those for women. The act would also expand the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women under the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program. The Act was named after Malala Yousafzai in honor of all of the hurdles she has overcome in her life to become the more prevalent education activist in the world.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, said that it was imperative to promote women’s education in developing countries that limit women’s rights. Ros-Lehtinen said, “we know that access to education is a game changer for any society. A society in which women have unfettered access to the education system expands the horizons not just for the girls and the women involved, but for everyone in their community and their nation.”

The next step for the act to become a bill is for it to be passed in the Senate. We will keep you updated on the Act’s status.

Malala nominated for 2014 World Children’s Prize

Malala has been nominated for the 2014 World Children’s Prize. The organization shared a video of Malala’s friends and other schoolgirls from across Pakistan explaining what Malala’s campaign for girls’ education means to them.

The World Children’s Prize is an organization that contributes “toward a more human world in support of the rights of the child; it is the world’s largest annual educational program teaching young people about the rights of the child, democracy, and global friendship.”

Three candidates are nominated each year by children around the world, and then the children vote for the winner. Candidates are chosen for being child rights heroes, and all three receive money to further their work with children.

The organization is unique in that it is focused on the children’s experience. Twice a year there are World Children’s Prize press conferences where children present and answer questions from reports about their stories. The only rule of the press conferences is that adults are there only to listen, not talk! (Quite the opposite of the usual child/adult interaction) The organization has a very information website that can be viewed here: Website and they also have a blog that shares the stories of children from across the world: Blog

The Impact of Education in a Developing Country: My Experience in Namibia

Primary students in the computer lab

The Malala Fund works with local partners in developing countries to ensure education for all children. Currently Malala has projects in Pakistan, Jordan, Nigeria, and Kenya. However, there are still 66 million girls out of school around the world. The governments of many developing countries are working on enrolling and retaining all children into the school system, and this summer I was able to witness an education system in the midst of this battle.

In July, I took the opportunity to study abroad in Namibia with the University of Maryland’s iSchool. The trip enabled me to see first hand the impact a successful education and library system can have on a developing country. Namibia, located in Southern Sub-Saharan Africa, is a developing country that achieved independence in 1990. Before independence, the country was a part of South Africa and endured the oppressive and damaging policies of Apartheid. The post-apartheid government immediately began to address the inequalities the country faced, including the education system.

A student answering a question

Namibia has been striving to reach all 8 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals since the 2000 Millennium Summit. Goal two is to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015. Namibia believed that education was the cornerstone to reaching many of the other Millennium goals. While I was in the capital city I was able to visit and talk with members of the Ministry of Education, as well as visit multiple primary schools in varying economic areas of Windhoek. Girls and boys were mixed in the classrooms at all ages.

The country successfully increased the number of girls that finished schooling by addressing the issue of teen pregnancy, and fighting the social norm of girls remaining home to help with housework. The country also faced a problem with children in rural areas since they had to travel far distances to reach a school. This was a deterrent to attendance and retaining students, especially since many students had to be boarded by a relative or family friend. To combat the disparities between rural and urban regions, the country increased access in rural areas by training more teachers and building more facilities. As a result, in 2013 almost all children were enrolled in primary school and the country is on target to achieve 100 percent literacy rate among youth.1

Designing bookmarks in the Oshana Regional Center

Namibia also addressed the lack of access in rural areas by partnering with IREX and the Millenium Challenge Account to build Regional Study and Resource Centers. The centers provide residents with access to library and information services, which is critical to improving the lives of Namibian citizens and enabling them to access information on agriculture, health, economics, finance, workforce development, and education.2

Programming for Secondary students

During my trip I was able to collaborate with staff to design and implement programming for primary and secondary school students. Our group held programs at the Ohangwena Regional Study and Resource Center and the Oshana Regional Study and Resource Center. We designed programming for young learners in kindergarten through 3rd grade that focused on library resources. We also designed programming for 12th grade students on how to apply to jobs and colleges, and on interview skills.

Overall, the trip to Namibia opened up my eyes to how important education is in a developing country and truly helped me place Malala’s story in context. Malala almost lost her life in her fight for education, and she has now committed her life to helping other children in developing countries achieve their potential and receive an education. The bright minds of the children I met and worked with in Namibia proved to me just how important it is to continue supporting countries and organizations, such as the Malala Fund, that are working to provide resources and an education for all children.

A group of talented 12th grade secondary students who are a part of the education revolution in Namibia

sources:
1. Namibia’s Vision 30 Document
2. Irex’s Regional Library development