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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Psychological Development, Schools, and Poverty

Schools are often blamed for their students' downward economic mobility based on the conclusion that had the children learned more they would, in adulthood, be employed at skilled, higher paid jobs. But even in the least effective school, some children do excel. As I once described a school system to a parent: they do well by "A" students, not so good with others. What follows is part of the answer.

All people have basic psychological abilities which enable them to control their behavior and thinking, to modulate their mood, and to develop a sense of who they are. Though not being innate, these abilities naturally develop within the first three years of a child's life--provided that the family environment supports this cognitive growth.

But if too great stress is present, weakness of these psychological ("ego") capacities occurs. These make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for a child to function effectively in school and cripples their functioning as an adult.

While providing an effective individualized education can help, those with severer limitations require services which it is beyond a school ability to provide. Primarily, individual psychotherapy and parenting education to replace the child's deficient psychological abilities with more mature ones.

This major task is well worth the investment considering the economic benefit to society from the lifetime of improved functioning which the adult will gain.

Copyright (c) 2010, 2015 by Stanley Goldstein. All rights reserved.
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