Think. Pair. Share. with Nikhit D'Sa
From St. Patrick and his feast day to five-day cricket extravaganzas and adopting a human-centered approach to research application in the lived experience of children and teachers
Nikhit D’Sa, Assistant Professor and Senior Associate Director for Research at the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child discusses social emotional learning, teacher wellbeing, and the role of play in low-resource and fragile contexts, as well as, corned beef and cabbage, four-leaf clovers, and the Emerald Isle.
“That's what drew me to the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child. When the Center was first being set up, Neil Boothby, the director of the Center, approached me about it and we had this long conversation. What I saw was that he reflected those very same things that I was working towards. And so it became this symbiotic thing where we were working towards the same goals: an academic center that's focused on trying to understand resilience in this whole child development perspective. Academic was seen as synonymous with technical and hard to understand. And for me, that is so telling that we have these different silos. How do we do this work so that it's generative and not extractive? The center being based within the Institute for Educational Initiatives makes so much sense to me because that's the focus of IEI. It's about working with principals and teachers and training them, but also working with them in their careers, working with practitioners to make sense of how this research, how this "academic technical" thing actually works when you're standing in front of 30-odd students trying to teach them math or trying to teach them science, right? And so for me, that's what's meaningful, is being able to do that work and being a researcher trying to do that translation.”
"’You're measuring the wrong thing.’ We were trying to evaluate this program, how children express their future, and we sat down with teachers. They said, "It's not about them knowing who they are. The struggle is figuring out who they will be tomorrow. They really don't know where they can even go and that's affecting where they are right now." And so we changed our way of measuring self-concept based on teachers' reflections that really what we needed to be doing is looking at future orientation. And so really, I think it is about valuing the fact that teachers have a wealth of knowledge, but are we able to incorporate it into the work that we're doing in a way that values and looks at their lived experience as a valuable point of information for these programs or these measures that we're working on.”
“I can't help but be hopeful because of all of the kids that I've worked with, all of the adolescents, even after all that they've been through, they are still hopeful, they are still looking for that future, they're still trying to negotiate and find that future for themselves, so we have to be hopeful, we have to have our hope accompany theirs.”