Blog Entry #1

3 Things I learned

1) In the article, Enough Talk About Grit; It’s Time to Talk About Privilege, Paul L. Thomas discusses that using the term effort in lessons as a mask for privilege causes harm to students. Although effort is an important aspect in learning, schooling, and success, the article proves that privilege plays a role in it, as well. An interesting fact that I learned is that people who are born rich are 2.5 times more likely to grow up rich, even without post-secondary education, whereas people who are born poor with a college degree are not; the same thing goes for people of colour versus people who are white. Throughout my other ECS courses, we have discussed privilege, but it was not until after reading this article that I realized the link between effort and success and privilege. Reading this article has opened my mind on how success can be different for everyone and how race and social class impacts success. However, the argument is not that people of racial minorities or lower social class cannot be successful, rather they must work harder than others to do so. Unfortunately, just because one works hard does not guarantee success. For example, the article states that even children who achieve more education do not do better than children who have less education, therefore arguing that “you are better off being born rich regardless of whether you go to college than being born poor and getting a college degree”. Similarly, the article also states that “African-American college students are about as likely to get hired as whites who have dropped out of high school. Therefore, inequities of opportunity based on race, like class, trump effort.” With that, I know many people of colour or of a lower social class who came to be successful people, but never really took into consideration how much harder they must have worked to get to where they are. Overall, one quote from the article that encompasses my new understandings and has resonated with me is the following: 

“Despite the effort demonstrated by advanced educational attainment, impoverished and racial minorities make no gains over affluent and white contemporaries who demonstrate less effort in term of educational attainment. Ultimately, then, privilege and race, not effort, remain the strongest indicators of who succeeds economically, and in their professions.” (Thomas, 2014)

2) I have learned about Lev Vygotsy and his concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in some of my previous ECE courses. Despite this, I still had some trouble trying to completely understand what it really meant. I have always thought that the ZPD referred to the critical learning period or sensitive period – In other words, the age of development in which children can acquire knowledge, such as language acquisition. After doing more reading on the topic, I have learned that the ZPD is where learning and development are possible and that it varies from person to person and can be carried throughout adolescence and adulthood. With that, the ZPD is very different to the critical and sensitive periods. Rather, it is when problems or tasks can be completed with help, collaboration, support, and/or guidance from a peer or adult, but not alone. Through the reading I have learned that the ZPD is used to help figure out ways to help scaffold our students to help build their confidence in completing tasks that may be difficult completing alone. It is important for teachers to understand the ZPD to help and find ways to encourage teamwork and collaboration, as well as independence. 

3) The course textbook, Educational Psychology, discusses pruning, which is a process that supports cognitive development. I learned that this process occurs when the space between our neurons (synapses) are overproduced in certain parts of the brain during specific developmental periods, awaiting stimulation. The example they used to explain this is that during the first few months of life, the brain expects visual and auditory stimulation to develop normal range of sights and sounds, but when babies are born without one sense, that area of the brain becomes devoted to processing just the one stimulus. Thus, explaining why people’s senses who lack one sense are stronger than others. For example, people who are blind tend to have better auditory skills. Another fact that interested me regarding the topic of pruning is that it is the reason why adults have difficulty pronouncing certain words that are not part of their native language. When people cannot pronounce certain sounds, the reason may be because these sounds have been prunced. The example used on page 28 of the textbook discusses that the letters R and L are important in English, but not in Japanese. With that, by the 10 months, Japanese infants lose the ability to differentiate between the R and L sounds, making it more difficult for them to learn these sounds as adult learners. This demonstrates the importance of being patient, understanding, and supportive with EAL students who are just adapting and learning English.  

2 Connections

1) Private speech is the term used to define when children talk to themselves. Through this reading I learned that children do this to guide, control, and regulate their thinking and action and that internal verbal thinking is not stable until around the age of twelve. Reading this made me think of the fieldwork placement I did in ECS 100 last year. I was placed in a second-grade classroom in which they did twenty minutes of silent reading after their lunch break. There were some students who would read aloud to themselves and when this happened, the teacher would ask them to be silent. The students would remain silent for a few minutes, but later would begin reading aloud again. Others would instead become distracted and completely stop reading, causing more distraction to the other students. Through the textbook reading I learned that insisting children to be silent may cause problems or difficulty in completing tasks, which is what I observed when the students were asked to read in silence. With that, I realized the importance of allowing children to read aloud (as long as they are not being disruptive to others) rather than silencing them. 

2) Another fact that resonated with me from the reading is that emotions and stress are directly connected to classroom learning and the brain and that emotions can become paired with particular situations. With that, anxiety and emotions can interfere with learning and cause students to lose focus and attention. The connection I made to this fact is my experiences with math. For as long as I can remember, I have always had trouble with math and just the thought of teaching and learning math gives me anxiety. This anxiety has gotten so bad that I have even done research on dyscalculia in attempt to find answers as to why I have such difficulty in completing even just basic arithmetic calculations. The reading states that minimalizing stress and regulating emotions can help students in becoming more motivated to learn. With that, I believe that if I ever have students who feel the same way I do about math or any other subject, spending time with them, taking breaks, and finding ways to help regulate their stress levels and emotions can help them with their learning. 

1 Question 

1) I was never a fan of math and believe that it is my weakest subject. To this day I still get anxious when faced with math problems. However, my younger brother and sisters love math and excel in the subject. Is my problem with math caused by the anxiety or bad memories I have had in previous math classes or with past math teachers or does the zone of proximal development play a role in my learning of math? For example, if I had received more help with math at a younger age, would I have grown up to be better at it?


Woolfolk, Winnie & Perry, Educational Psychology Sixth Canadian Edition, Pearson: Toronto, 2016. p22-62. 

Thomas, P. L. (n.d.). Enough Talk About Grit; It’s Time to Talk About Privilege. Retrieved September 15, 2018, from 

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