Ep. 23: Clancy Blair, Ph.D. - To Pop or Not to Pop


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Nov 27 2017 29 mins   1

Jung-ah Choi writes that during a parent-teacher conference she discovered that her son was misbehaving in his kindergartner class. Upon further inquiry it turned out that her son was having a hard time complying with the class rule about not invading other people’s personal space. The teacher called it the “do-not-pop-the-bubble” policy. Choi’s son did not know how best to achieve the balance of engaging his classmates playfully without grabbing onto their hands or pulling them closer. A teacher expects her students to cooperate in the class, meet the policy expectations, and those who can’t or don't know how to ‘not-pop-the-bubble’ often get in trouble. When such trouble escalates, it leads to suspension or even expulsion. This episode, my guest, Clancy Blair, Ph.D. will talk about ways to promote fundamental abilities, which helps children meet the classroom expectation of HOW to regulate yourself.

About Clancy Blair, Ph.D.
Clancy Blair, PhD is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Applied Psychology in Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He earned a BA at McGill University and an MPH in maternal and child health, and MA and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has been conducting research on the development of self-regulation in early childhood for over two decades. The specific focus of this research has been on the development of executive function abilities. This research has demonstrated that executive functions are central to school readiness and school achievement in the elementary grades, are substantially influenced by experience and by the characteristics of the family and the home environment, and highly interrelated with the regulation of stress response physiology. An important focus of this research is on the ways in which experience ‘gets under the skin’ to influence the development of executive functions through the stress response. This mechanism is one that appears to be particularly relevant to the effect of poverty on children’s development and may be one primary route through which childhood poverty exerts long-term influence on cognitive and social-emotional development into adulthood. 

Blair is currently completing a trial of a parenting program designed to foster self-regulation including executive functions in parents and children participating in Early Head Start programs (funded by the US Administration for Children and Families), is collecting normative data on a computer-based assessment of executive functions that he developed with his colleague Michael Willoughby (funded by IES), and is in the beginning stages of a study designed to examine prenatal and early postnatal influences on the development of executive functions in children (funded by the National Science Foundation). 

He serves as a consultant on numerous research projects and in addition to serving as a scientific advisor to the Urban Child Institute, serves on the advisory boards of several initiatives focused on early childhood education and child wellbeing including First Things First in Arizona; the Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System, in Maryland and Ohio; the Exploring Implications of Emerging Insights from Psychology for Self-Sufficiency Programs project, Mathematica, Washington DC; and the BUILD K-3 Formative Assessment Consortium, North Carolina.

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