One thing I got out of it that really resonates with some of the professional conversations people are having at the moment is the needs of the learner in their first couple of years at school.
Between the ages of 3 and 7 the learner is developing their limbic brain. They cannot access their frontal cortex until the limbic brain which deals with emotions is developed. The frontal cortex is where academic achievement happens - reading, writing, self-regulation etc. Hence the Te Whariki early childhood curriculum focuses on learning "dispositions" - what learners need to feel in order to be good learners because this is the role of the limbic brain.
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Many learners are not ready to engage in reading and writing until they are 6 and 7 and when they are ready they can learn to read in two months.
Given the brain is not ready and simply won't do it yet - children should be carefully transitioned into formal learning. For instance in Finland children don't start school until they are 7 and they have the most successful educational outcomes in the world. By 9 there's no difference in outcome between the child who learnt to read at 5 and the one who learnt at 7.
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Those schools which ease off on stressing about the national standards in the first year or two but expect children to meet the standard by year 3 - they're right too.
Systematic, extensive, physical research into how brains work and develop proves that they are right.
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1. Teenage delinquency is primarily linked with a particularly punitive culture in NZ, and
2. It is linked to engaging in academic learning before the brain is ready for it.