This is why my school approaches the whole child, stressing social connections for students with neurological differences as well as academics. You can’t have one without the other as an adult. Having approached my students like this for three years, I know this: I won’t teach any other way anymore.
A study published this week in the Journal of Happiness Studies shows how children and adolescents get this well-being as adults.
In short, social connectedness massively overwhelms academic achievement.
The study mined 32 years of data from the New Zealand Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which followed about 1,000 people from birth to adulthood. About every three years, the study measured nearly every psychosocial goodie you can imagine, including measures of attachment to parents and peers, self-perceived strengths, socioeconomics, club and group participation, language development and academic achievement (among many others). At age 32, the study measured well-being.
Surprisingly, though psychologists have spent careers asking what in childhood leads to bad stuff like psychopathologies, nobody had asked what in childhood leads to good stuff like well-being. Authors Ollson, Nada-Raja, Williams and McGee changed that. (Note: the fourth author’s first name is Rob – apparently feeling good is not, in fact, good enough for Bobby McGee.)
The factor that most pointed toward adult well-being was social connectedness as an adolescent (0.62 correlation, if you’re into that sort of thing). Academic achievement was a much weaker predictor of adult well-being, at 0.12.
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