A review on the article “Learning to Laugh: A portrait of Risk and Resilience in Early Childhood”

Introduction

The
article is about the development of resilient skills to a little girl that was
raised in a harmful environment and struggled to express her emotions. The
author begins by describing the adverse experiences of Goddess’ early childhood
that discourage her to create positive relations with her social environment.
He does this to highlight the significance of implementing intervention
programs for fostering resilience to Goddess. Specifically, he explores how the
mutual collaboration of her mother, teaching staff and peers enforce the child
to learn to laugh. Following that, the current research sheds light on social
stereotypes that label a child with behavioral problems and exclude it from
taking part in school activities. Thus, the author points out that the change
of Goddess’ behavior not only has an impact on his thinking about her strengths
but also influence her social network. Finally, he finds out that the absence
of emotional expression is a way to protect herself from difficulties.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

The author’s
arguments

One
significant factor that encouraged the author to provide help to Goddess is her
emotional disassociation due to her adverse experiences from her background. In
particular, Goddess was born and raised in prison from a mother that still
struggles with fears from the past and depression in her everyday life.
Following that, Goddess is not familiar with mothers’ love, her kind words and
a warm smile. As Goddess is growing up, she becomes distant from her social
environment and she avoids interaction with her peers and her teachers. Through
author’s narratives, she is described as an isolated girl who does not ask for
any help, does not cry as the other toddlers, refuses to play and participates
in daily school tasks (Wright, 2010). Finally, the absence of emotional
expression and the continuous distance from her social environment enforce the
author to start his journey through the harmful experiences of this little
girl.

Another
important reason to support the girl to overcome her life’s challenges is the
relevance between the backgrounds of the author and Goddess. He grew up with
memories from his mother to fight every day with depression, drugs’ nightmares
and custody. In the same way with Goddess, he felt unsafe and alone, he lost
his faith and trust to other people and he avoided to interact with them. As a
result, the case of Goddess provides a learning experience to the author and
encourages him to communicate deeply with his students. He managed to express
his emotions and get closer to a girl that fights to keep herself safe. Their
relevant background story is not the last contributory factor that leads the
author to recognize the adverse life circumstances of Goddess and help her to
overcome them.

Through
the author’s narratives, the model of man as supportive partner and father is
redefined for two several reasons. Firstly, he argued that children who were
victims of harmful familial circumstances or did not recognize their fathers,
they need to get acquainted with the male presence in order to develop a
positive attitude for him. Secondly, the author claimed that his identity as
gay educator usually becomes a barrier to his relations with his students (Wright, 2010). In other words, his
sensitivity and fear not to reveal his sexual preference forced him to create a
distant behavior from children. However, his work with toddlers and especially
Goddess challenged him to overcome these difficulties and construct a
supportive-male model for children. He developed his emotional characteristics
at the same time when he tried to understand the particular defenses of
Goddess’ behavior.

In
addition, the current research presents the development and the improvement of
two different intervention programs which aimed to foster resilience and
support the little girl to interact with her social network: the care-giving
program and the play-therapy. However, the author sheds light on the significance
of the first plan. In this endeavor, he argued for a mutual transformation of
Goddess and her social environment that was accomplished through this approach.

The
care-giving plan encouraged Goddess to overcome the adverse experiences from
her early childhood through several efforts. The author tried to get closer to her
by saying a kind word or by enforcing Goddess to feel comfortable with his
presence inside and outside of the classroom. Furthermore, he respected her
private world and encouraged her to feel autonomy without threatening and
pressing in her personal space. He reassured the little girl that each of his
promises was meaningful and was connected with direct actions that boost the
development of feelings of trust and faith. The importance of these efforts was
twofold: not only Goddess was challenged to let her defenses go but also the
author managed to get a better sense of who this girl was in his attempt to
build a strong and faithful relationship with her.

The
author claimed that the care-giving approach fostered Goddess to interact with
her peers and her teachers. In particular, the little girl was encouraged to
participate in classroom activities in order to understand the different
emotions and get familiar with them. The author argued that his efforts aimed
to a mutual change: he boosted Goddess to accept her peers and create friendly
relations, at the same time that children developed a positive attitude for her.
However, he explained that this label was constructed by her peers and her
teachers because Goddess was different from the other toddlers. She was not
smiling or asking for hugs, she was not reacting when her teachers change her
diaper and she was sitting silent (Wright, 2010). At this point, it is assumed that the
school is a mirror in which children reflect their self-image. The established
institutions have the power to label children and discourage their social
acceptance and their academic performance. Finally, this mutual change
influenced her social network to develop new perspectives and especially
enforced Goddess to create a positive relationship with her mother.

The
author conveyed a strong belief that her mother’s fight with depression and
other behavioral problems are a corollary of her negative experiences from her
own childhood. Recognizing the great role of mother’s attribute in developing
Goddess resilient skills, the author refreshed the care-giving approach by
encouraging the communication between them. He offered support to the mother
with the help of the other team members to communicate with her daughter, to
understand her own strengths and abilities and to learn how she could play with
her. To conclude, the basic argument of the author is that the mother’s bond
with her child is one of the most significant factors for normal emotional and
behavioral development.

Deconstructing the
position of the writer

Although
the author describes the case of a little girl that struggled to bounce back
from adverse experiences of her early childhood, it is necessary to examine his
research project in a little more detail. The case study of Goddess could be
useful for qualitative researchers to understand the potentials of intervention
programs that involve the role of mother, teachers and peers. The author makes
an effort to explain the behavioral change of Goddess that results from the
mutual collaboration of her social environment. He claims that his case study
offers a model for supporting other children to overcome harmful experiences (Wright, 2010). In stark contrast,
the picture of this little girl could provide significant elements about her
background, but they could not be generalized to other cases (Thomas, 2016). Not only Goddess is
a unique person that developed her own resilient skills, but also her social
network shares particular experiences. Thus, there is no ground for
generalizations, but it is important to look at the unique features of this
research that came from the different understandings of the participants (Thomas, 2016).

A
second critique of the article is that the author does not use a clear agenda
to explain the aims and the purpose of this study. In general, the different
parts of this article do not respond to the structure of a piece of research.
Specifically, the ‘Introduction’ is replaced by the title “Goddess” (Wright,
2010, p. 444).
Thus, he does not facilitate the reader to construct a deeper image of the
current study. However, the introduction should enable the reader to understand
why the author chooses a topic to research and provide the methods that he
would answer the problem (Thomas, 2017). Moreover, the research question is
detected after his adverse experiences from his background that lead him to
create a distant behavior relevant to Goddess. In my view, it does not fully
explain what the author expects to find out from this study (Thomas, 2017). It is broad and not specific enough to
navigate the reader into the concerns of the author.

Another
critique of the article is referred to the literature review written by the
author. He presents a brief literature which is cited in the introduction and
is not a unique part of this study. In addition, a weakness is detected in the
quality of sources because they do not fully respond to his research. To my
belief, he does not provide primary sources about other models or intervention
programs that foster resilience in education. The primary focus of a literature
review should be to create a story by examining the research question by
different aspects and connect the ideas (Thomas, 2017). Nevertheless, the current literature
provides a list of secondary sources that inform the reader about the research
in programs that reveal the importance of several factors in child’s
development (Wright, 2010, p. 446). Thus, it is not
comprehensible enough for a reader to navigate into the concerns and
examinations of the author.

It
might be suspicious that the intervention program implemented by the author
proved to be so successful. Specifically, the author’s practices are influenced
by the social model of disability. This model results from the belief that the
social environment discourages people with disabilities to participate in daily
life tasks (Haegele & Hodge, 2016). Similarly, the
article provides an image of a little girl that is labeled with behavioral
problems and is isolated from the teachers and her peers. In contrast, the
author does not take into consideration the medical model of disability which
promotes the idea that the impairment does not allow a child to function in
school. This intervention plan is based completely on modifications to the
attitudes of the social network of Goddess rather than to a medical diagnosis
of the toddler. The methods used by the author are not fair because they omit
the medical situation of the girl and present the one side of the coin.

The
analysis offered by the author is permeated from vested interests such as
emotional and behavioral details of his life that consciously or unconsciously
influence the outcomes of the current study. The analysis of the findings is
not thorough and balanced because it is influenced by the writer’s inside
fears. In other words, his anxiety that his identity as a gay educator may be revealed
by the other parents and his concern to rebuild a supportive father-man model
for children are significant factors in his analysis. Other bias might have
occurred from his limited experience of working with toddlers who need the care
to grow up. In addition, the feeling of unsafety that results from the adverse
experiences of his early childhood may influence his analysis. As a result, the
sensitivity of the author might have power over the reactions of the
participants and lead him to present the outcomes less realistically than they
are in fact.

A
last critique of the study is referred to the discussion provided by the
writer. Specifically, I struggle to understand where the discussion starts and
ends up because the article is not well-constructed. To my point of view, the
titles “Risk” and “Resilience” replaced the discussion (Wright, 2010, p. 461). Furthermore, the
author does not connect the findings of his study with the literature cited at
the beginning. An important reason might be that not all the sources used for
the literature review are equal to the research topic (Thomas, 2017). For instance, the absence of other
educational programs that develop resilience in children does not facilitate
the writer to make comparisons and examine his data. Following an interpretive
approach, his experiences and understandings about the world influence the way
that he explains the findings (Thomas, 2017). Yet, the discussion is not appropriate
because it is based on the writer’s beliefs without taking into consideration
other studies and finding similarities or differences between them and his
research.

Disagreeing or
agreeing with the points being made

On
the one hand, I agree up to a point with the social approach that the author followed
in his research. The methods are related to the supports and opportunities
available in the family and school of a little girl with behavioral problems.
To my belief, a child needs to feel valuable and capable from the others in
order to improve his/her skills and participate actively in external
activities. The achievement of students usually rises or falls in response to
the expectations placed upon them (Haegele & Hodge, 2016). A child that is
expected to perform better generally would accomplish the educational goals. In
contrast, lower expectations from a student usually lead to achieving less.
Following the same way, the purpose of the intervention plans is to encourage
the social network of Goddess to understand her strengths. The concept of high
expectations is an important reason for the transformation of Goddess’
behavior, but there are some limitations to these programs that I discuss
below.

On
the other hand, I found that the analysis of the findings is not completed because
the author does not take into consideration the medical model of disability.
The primary aim of this model is to cure the disabled people in order to
function with the social groups. Some professionals have the position to detect
when a body is non-normal and provide a treatment for a disability (Haegele & Hodge, 2016). Thus, many teachers
claimed that the medical diagnosis of a disability help them to understand
better the needs of a child (Lalvani, 2015). Following that, they would make
further modifications to the educational program and try to find out what works
best for a child with a disability. In contrast, the writer does not inform the
reader about the nature of behavioral problems of Goddess. For this reason, I
disagree with the methods of the author which are based totally on the social
change of Goddess environment.

In
turning to the writer’s confession that his beliefs and values changed after
his experience of getting closer to a little girl, it is questionable whether
his methodology and findings are credible. The author admitted that his efforts
to support and develop resilient skills in Goddess influenced the way that he
acts. Although a researcher could not be disinterested from his understandings
and notions about the world in a qualitative study (Thomas, 2017), I believe that he does not completely
take control of his sensitivity and other feelings that may occur from his
relation with Goddess. His distant behavior that came from the harmful memories
of his early childhood changed to trust and care the others during the
research. Likewise, the data may be distorted during his transformation from
creating cold to warm and close relations with his students. My main concern is
that the non-stability of his character may not provide the real information
about the success of this process that is followed.  

How does this fit
into the literature generally?

According
to the articles that I came across, I found some similarities and differences
between the current study that is examined and three other models. Turning to
the methods that are used, the Penn Resiliency Program aims to develop the
personal attributes that are related to resilience (Gillham, et al., 2012). The students are
encouraged to increase their skills, cope with problems effectively and try to
find solutions. Through various teaching techniques, the children would improve
themselves and respond to a problem in different ways. Likewise, the high
school positive psychology program supports students to create positive feelings
about their everyday life and avoid the negative thoughts (Gillham, et al., 2012). Moreover, it
enables children to understand their potentials and develop other skills when
it is essential. The program promotes the belief that students should focus on
what makes their lives meaningful and build their values with the help of their
families. Although the school and the familiar environment have a significant
role, these models are related to the internal characteristics of children. In
other words, the intervention programs help them to evaluate their efforts and
consider multiple strategies to deal with harmful situations. A limitation of
these plans is that the age of the population is not the same as Goddess’ age. In
contrast with the current study, they are not based on the social change of
parents, teachers and peers. The primary concern is to educate them to overcome
the obstacles with a positive attitude rather than restrict the challenging
conditions.

A
quantitative study that has been conducted in the field of Education proved
that factors related to the social environment influence the academic resilience
of a child (Jowkar, et al., 2014). It shows that the
educational system force the students to be competent in order to receive
higher grades. Yet, some students have developed more their resilience than
others because they bounce back quickly from the failure and continue to get
knowledge. The aim of this study is to explain that resilience is increased in
students who have set their goals in learning environments. However, the
findings present that the barriers constructed from institutional organizations
restrict the strengths of students. Similarly, the low expectations and the
activities implemented by the teachers of Goddess isolated and excluded her
from fully taking action in the classroom. One difference could be that this
research responds to the needs of adolescents and not toddlers. To conclude,
the results of the two studies are focused on the social environment and the
social inclusion for fostering resilience in education. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *