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Social Capital Matters As Much As Human Capital – A Message To Skeptics


Esther: An absolutely great contribution to our field. I have been reading Fullan's new book (The Principal) and Hargreaves/Fullan Professional Capital. Also, found very interesting a recent study by Joan Talbert regarding the Sanger School District in S. California. Daniel Willingham wrote an interesting piece in support of the article you mentioned (Why Do Americans Stink at Math). Many of you seem to be approaching this idea of social capital at the same time. I appreciate your citations in your articles as I have not read most. I think your work in this area is very important! I hope more is coming. I am particularly interested in documented practices that facilitate social capital. Any ideas or recommendations you have will be appreciated. Although I am a recently retired high school principal, I work with school principals in this area. To this point, I believe one way to improve is to be in a dialogue with others using specific articles/books for the study. Thanks again for your contributions, great stuff. Greg

Esther, Great post. I share your perplexity as to why we haven't put more systematic funding and resources towards initiatives to develop social capital in our schools. I am also perplexed as to why a very similar--yet tangible--challenge is similarly ignored: the physical capital of our schools. Physical infrastructure and design also have demonstrated impacts on human behavior and cognition, yet we seem unwilling to invest in this area. It may be that this inertia in attitude towards social and physical capital is that these areas require heavier investment or greater amounts of private-public and cross-sector collaboration. Either way, sometimes it seems to me that our society is only willing to invest in the ways that are either the easiest or most immediately headline-grabbing.

Mark, thank you for your comment. I agree with you completely. In fact I think that these two ideas are connected; for people to interact, they need to have the time and the space to do it. Seems obvious but, as you point out, usually ignored. Of course this applies to many issues, not just schools. For example, if you want people to walk more, make streets more inviting, be and feel safer, make distances more manageable... etc. It seems like thinking about time, infrastructure, human interaction, informal norms and trust -- in a way, whole systems -- may be more challenging and not as headline-grabbing like you said, but perhaps more reflective of the way things actually work.

Hi Greg, Thanks for your comment and suggestions -- I will definitely check out Talbert's work. I totally agree that we need to move from ideas/theory/research to action/practices/policies and that it's not always clear how to put all this into practice. I know there are some people working on this and I am considering putting together some kind of "resource" page precisely to help fill this gap. Also, feel free to get in touch via email if you want to discuss any of this in more depth. Thanks again. Esther

How do I get access to your e-mail address? Mine is Greg


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