The Weekly Bulldog

January 31, 2019

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From Tim: Active Care for the Whole Person

At Stanley, we often reflect on the essential role that social-emotional development plays in student learning. We respect that learning is at root a social endeavor, and we know that it’s important to build a healthy social-emotional context for academic learning to thrive.

Columnist David Brooks, in a recent NY Times opinion piece, offers his own perspective on the human element of teaching and learning. Emotions, cognitive scientists have shown, play a critical role in learning by helping us determine what’s important and what we care about, and therefore how to make good decisions.

Neuroscience is increasingly interested not so much in where learning happens in the brain but how complex neural pathways in the brain are activated. Full engagement of those pathways relies heavily on a social context. Brooks references a study from the University of Washington that showed that the social brain pervades every learning process. Infants were given Chinese lessons, some in person with a tutor and some through a video screen. Those taking in-person lessons activated the social brain and learned sounds quickly. Those watching the video screen “paid rapt attention, but learned nothing.”

Brooks offers that neuroscience affirms that “a key job of a school is to give students new things to love — an exciting field of study, new friends. It reminds us that what teachers really teach is themselves, their contagious passion for their subjects and students. It reminds us that children learn from people they love, and that love in this context means willing the good of another, and offering active care for the whole person.” He references schools that understand that “social and emotional learning is not an add-on curriculum,” and he points to some that do little or no academic instruction the first week, instead providing time for everybody to get to know one another.

I think of our teachers at Stanley, and I reflect upon how well they understand the meaning of “offering active care for the whole person.” I think of the upcoming Stan Talks, on February 7th, in which we’ll be honoring another teacher, David Marais, with our annual “Spirit of Stanley” award. He’ll join past recipients Betsy Lewis and Lynne Forstot as teachers who have embodied Brooks’ reminder that “children learn from people they love.”

All the best,


Top Five Things

1. Save April 27 for Auction 2019: The Stanley Shindig!

Returning to campus and the Hambidge Commons this spring is Auction 2019: The Stanley Shindig. We'll celebrate the school, raise funds for our programs and people on April 27, 6:30 pm. Details to come. Tickets on sale now.

2. It's winter, stay safe out there!

Denverites are pretty confident drivers in the snow. It's getting in and out of our cars, negotiating frozen sidewalks and crosswalks that can be potentially quite dangerous. Go slow, remember floors inside buildings are slick during melting/freezing swings, avoid carrying too many backpacks and books in case you lose your balance. Stay safe out there!

3. Major Dates for 2019-20 available now

Planning fall, winter and spring travel? Consult the preliminary list of school breaks for Stanley's 2019-20 school year. It's on the parents page now. We will share a more comprehensive list later this year.

4. 6th grade "Midsummer" videos online now

Your 6th-grade child became a Shakespearean Thespian with help from section friends and our theater arts teacher Laura Gibson. Check out the Learning Report blog post from Laura, and get links to all the recordings.

5. Make time for an Evening of Storytelling at Stanley Feb. 23

Don’t miss one hour of feel-good for all ages. Program includes snacks, drinks, camaraderie. Comfy clothes, jammies and sleeping accoutrements are heartily encouraged. >>details