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Promotion of Social Awareness

Promotion of Social Awareness: Powerful Lessons for the Partnership of Developmental Theory and

Robert L. Selman
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 344
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    Promotion of Social Awareness
    Book Description:

    Education specialists have written volumes on the best ways to help children learn to read and write, but who is helping them navigate the potentially treacherous waters of social interactions? While in school to study, children are also preoccupied with understanding the rules governing social relationships. Issues of trust and loyalty, rivalry and conflict, belonging and exclusion affect all school-aged children, but very few lesson plans include social development skills. The Promotion of Social Awareness summarizes thirty years of research on the social development of children in elementary and middle school, and shows how this work has led to a series of programs that promote the social competence of children and adolescents. Rich with lessons drawn from real life, the book includes an in-depth account of the author's partnership with an innovative program designed to help educators promote a sound ethic of social relationships among children, a case study of a teacher particularly gifted at promoting such relationships, and the tale of how the author's theoretical framework fared cross-culturally when exported to Iceland. The Promotion of Social Awareness documents Robert Selman's efforts both as a practitioner trying to help young people develop their interpersonal skills and as a researcher attempting to understand the factors that promote or hinder social development. Selman believes that getting along with others involves concrete and measurable social skills and actions that can be taught. The book underlines how the science of social development has given rise to initiatives and programs that can be used in educational settings to help children get along with each other, and may in the long run help prevent violence, drug abuse, and prejudice. Unique in its marriage of theory and practice, The Promotion of Social Awareness will appeal to a wide readership, including developmental psychologists, educators, and parents.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-489-7
    Subjects: Psychology, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Social interactions—from the intimate and personal to the public and political—are central to the experience of being human. Our development as social beings begins within the family, when we are infants, then continues in ever-wider arenas as we grow through childhood and adolescence into adulthood.

    Literature and memory testify to the fact that especially during the school-age years from early childhood through adolescence, our hearts and minds are occupied by our first encounters with fundamental questions about our relationships with other people: What is fair? What is not? How are you and I different? How are we the...

  6. Part I How Children Develop Their Awareness of Risks and Social Relationships:: Lessons from Theory

    • Chapter 2 Social Awareness: The Growth of Interpersonal Understanding
      (pp. 13-25)

      In 1971 the Group for the Study of Interpersonal Development invented Holly and her social and moral dilemma to study children′s developing capacities to understand and consider others′ social perspectives. Situations that force us to make complex decisions about conflicting principles and loyalties occur in all our lives. Should Holly try to save the kitten of one of her best friends? Or should she obey her father′s request to refrain from taking the risk of climbing the tree, thereby leaving the kitten in danger and perhaps also risking damage to a friendship that is important to her? In the 1970s...

    • Chapter 3 Intimacy and Autonomy: Social Strategies and Interpersonal Orientation
      (pp. 26-39)

      For the next decade, from roughly the early 1980s to the beginning of the 1990s, the Group for the Study of Interpersonal Development refocused and expanded its developmental research: we shifted from our original emphasis on social reasoning—what goes on inside individual children′s heads—to the arena of social interactions and the behavioral choices of children. Although we were still interested in children′s fundamental understanding of social relationships, especially friendship, we also wanted to better understand how children develop the repertoire of interpersonal skills they need to manage these relationships. Our earlier research had shown that the connection between...

    • Chapter 4 Risk, Relationship, and the Importance of Personal Meaning
      (pp. 40-60)

      Our early pedagogical applications of developmental theory in the classroom began in the early 1970s and were mostly implemented through adult-guided peer-group discussions of moral and social dilemmas like Holly′s and Kathy′s. These discussions and debates among students were thought to promote deeper levels of social and moral awareness than would have resulted from the children′s superficial acquisition of facts or the adults′ inculcation of specific cultural values and virtues. The hope was that this kind of learning might even serve as a part of a ″new developmental social studies moment.″¹

      In the 1970s, when the Group for the Study...

  7. Part II Connecting Children′s Literature and Social Awareness:: Lessons from Practice

    • Chapter 5 Voices of Love and Freedom: The Birth and Early Years of a Literature-Based Character Education Program
      (pp. 63-80)

      Educational policies in the United States focus heavily on the promotion of children′s literacy—their ability to learn the skills, for example, of reading and writing. To my mind, however, literacy is not merely a matter of being able to master the technical skills of reading and writing. Whether the ″literature″ in question is a training manual, a newspaper, a voter registration form, or a poem, reading and writing (like speech) are forms of communication and therefore profoundly social. To be truly well educated, children in the United States need to become knowledgeable not only about the rudiments of reading,...

    • Chapter 6 Putting ″Literacy and Values″ into Classroom Practice: Two Teachers and a Lesson Plan
      (pp. 81-97)

      In chapter 5, I described how our theory-research-practice group contributed to the early design and evolution of the ″Literacy and Values″ program of Voices of Love and Freedom.¹ We had advised VLF on the selection of books and structured its pedagogy around developmental concepts such as perspective coordination levels, conflict resolution strategies, and children′s awareness of the personal meaning of risk and relationships. Finally, we hoped, the theory and research developed by the GSID over many years was moving into the public school system.

      As Voices of Love and Freedom expanded its reach and the scope of its Literacy and...

    • Chapter 7 The Everyday Lives of Teachers: A New Focus for Practice-Based Research
      (pp. 98-110)

      Our original research plan was to observe students and teachers during the implementation of VLF over two years in four elementary schools chosen from those that offered teachers the option of using VLF materials. During the first year of the project we worked with teachers in grades two and four; in the second year we observed in third- and fifth-grade classrooms. We selected classrooms for inclusion in this study based on a variety of criteria, including the teacher′s willingness to be observed, the dynamics among students, the quality of the relationship between the teacher and his or her students, and,...

  8. Part III Promoting and Analyzing Teachers′ Understanding of Students′ Social Awareness:: Lessons from Iceland

    • Chapter 8 Supporting Teachers′ Professional Development
      (pp. 113-127)
      Robert Selman and Sigrun Adalbjarnardottir

      Each september, for more than a decade, a group of between fifteen and twenty elementary school teachers in Reykjavík, Iceland, assembled to take part in a yearlong professional development program titled ″Fostering Students′ Interpersonal Competence and Skills.″¹ The aim of this teacher professional development program was to help the participants promote their students′ social competencies in conjunction with their academic achievement. These teachers met twenty times or more at regular intervals across the nine months of the public school year and took turns hosting the group at their school. Each year the general aim of these evening ″reflective gatherings″ was...

    • Chapter 9 Teachers′ Reflections on Promoting Social Competence: Moving Back to Boston
      (pp. 128-146)
      Robert Selman and Sigrun Adalbjarnardottir

      Here is what a fifth-grade teacher, Birna, reported about how her participation in the Icelandic Project changed her practice in the classroom:¹

      I feel that knowledge and understanding of children′s social developmental processes has given me new insight into the children′s worlds of thought, which will make me a fairer and, I hope, a better educator. Gradually, I have started to make different demands of the students, ones that are better suited to their abilities.

      Halla, a fourth-grade teacher wrote:

      I now feel professionally stronger when I deal with social problems because I know more about what is going on,...

    • Chapter 10 Terms of Engagement: Personal Meaning and the Professional Lives of Teachers
      (pp. 147-170)
      Carolina Buitrago, Robert L. Selman and Sigrun Adalbjarnardottir

      Across the chapters of this book, we have used the term ″risk″ in several ways. In the name we gave our basic developmental framework in chapter 4, it refers to ″the uncertainty of outcome that children face as they make decisions about how to act within interpersonal relationships.″ When we speak about ″risk factors,″ however, the term has an inherently negative connotation. These factors—poverty, disruption within the family, and racial or ethnic discrimination—when piled on the shoulders of an individual, often lead to poor life outcomes. In this context the phrase ″risk-taking behavior″ refers to those actions, such...

  9. Part IV Researching the Social and Ethical Awareness of Students:: Lessons from a Fifth-Grade Classroom

    • Chapter 11 To Connect: A Teacher′s Pedagogical Vision and Her Empowerment of Students′ Points of View
      (pp. 173-189)

      In the fall term of 1997, between early November and the beginning of the Christmas holidays in December, our Carnegie Research Study video crew spent many hours in the classroom of the elementary school teacher Angela Burgos at the Russell School in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston. Our goal for this part of the study was to understand the effectiveness of the kind of approach used by the Voices of Love and Freedom program, to learn more about children′s social development, and to increase our understanding of the professional development of teachers.

      In chapter 10, we introduced teacher awareness profiles...

    • Chapter 12 The Power of Peers: Communication, Engagement, and Commitment
      (pp. 190-212)

      It′s the beginning of another school day at Russell Elementary. Even the most casual observer can note the differences among the students as they come down the block or pile off the bus. Two smiling girls skip hand in hand; a young boy charges toward the school, pushing past the girls and through the knot of kids at the front door; other children walk solemnly to the building alone, looking as though they were approaching their doom. As I discussed in part I of this book, for all of these children social experiences with peers—including their interactions in the...

    • Chapter 13 ″Push Them Back″ Versus ″Forget About It″: Developmental and Cultural Attunement to Students′ Strategies for Dealing with Prejudice and Discrimination
      (pp. 213-228)

      About 40 percent of the four hundred students who attend Russell Elementary live in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood and walk to school. The others come on buses from various other parts of the city of Boston. Eighty percent of Russell′s students qualify to receive free or reduced-price lunches. Sixty percent have limited proficiency in English; 50 percent speak Spanish as their primary language at home.

      In Angela Burgos′s Spanish-English bilingual class there are students who are impressively articulate in both languages, some who are still in the process of becoming fluent in their second language, and a few students whose oral...

  10. Part V Deepening Social Awareness and Literacy Skills:: Lessons from the Integration of Developmental Theory, Research, and Classroom Practice

    • Chapter 14 Bridging the Gap: Connecting Social Awareness to Literacy Practice
      (pp. 231-250)
      Robert L. Selman and Amy J. Dray

      Throughout the history of public education in this country, reading primers for the very young have often carried moral lessons, and the literature studied by older children, adolescents, and young adults has always been carefully chosen to transmit that particular body of knowledge that has been seen as crucial to the moral and cultural as well as practical education of the next generation. (For reprints of early reading primers and textbooks, see Svobodny 1985.) Community and national concerns and goals vary, and they change over time. We have seen many debates over the clash between traditional ways versus the assumptions...

    • Chapter 15 The Power of Persuasion: Who Is the Audience and Where Does It Stand?
      (pp. 251-266)
      Amy J. Dray and Robert L. Selman

      By early December, Angela Burgos′s class had completed many of the social skills exercises recommended in the Literacy and Values teacher′s guide for the first four chapters ofFelita. The students had worked on their own, as well as in small groups and in whole-class discussions, to write and talk about the feelings and motives of the characters in the novel. They had also practiced, in pairs, role-playing exercises designed to try out different strategies for resolving conflicts between individuals and groups.

      Now, in an activity that came under the ″To Express″ and ″To Participate″ components of the curriculum, the...

    • Chapter 16 Thinking Like a Developmentalist: Understanding Social Awareness Through Its Promotion and Assessment
      (pp. 267-282)

      Throughout this book I have reported the collaborative work of our group. Now I want to share with you what I have come to believe through this work about practices and policies associated with the social and ethical development of children in schools. My belief centers on the following questions: What should children learn about the ethics of social relations in schools? How can we, as adults, help them figure out how to learn it? And how are we to teach it?

      When I describe the work reported here either to colleagues or to friends, they often react to our...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 283-306)
  12. References
    (pp. 307-318)
  13. Index
    (pp. 319-326)