Teachers and parents hold the keys to longevity starting in childhood
What do you remember about your Reading and Language Arts Education?
Raise your hand if you remember….
- Fun with Dick and Jane readers?
- Weekly vocabulary list and quizzes?
- Timed reading tests?
- Silent reading periods?
- Diagramming sentences?
- Trips to the school and community library?
You can lower your hand.
For most of us, this list contains staples of our early public education. Language Arts and Reading teachers have an enormous bag of tricks to engage and delight young minds about the words on a page. Without dipping a toe into the cultural debates of what is acceptable content, can we all agree that language skills rank right up there with breathing as essential for human existence?
The new school year is upon us. The alarming teacher shortage risks the mental health of our future generations thus increasing the risk of developing dementia and related disorders including Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers are publishing alarming studies about the vast health inequities relationship to education level. In addition, we can layer on the socioeconomic differences such as rural verses urban communities, segregated verses integrated schools, access to broadband and technology, healthy food, reliable transportation, and the other social determinants of health that impact young lives today and for decades to come.
The Nun Study
Returning to my premise that today’s teacher shortage is tomorrow’s mental health crisis, I base my prediction on research by David Snowdon, PhD in epidemiology and lead researcher of The Nuns Study and author of Aging With Grace. The Nuns Study is a unique mixed prospective-retrospective study design of a homogenous population from 1986 to the present. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced a Vital Signs segment on this groundbreaking study.
Dr. Snowdon and his decades of research continue to reveal important connections between a lifetime of good nutrition, exercise, education, and brain development. This research indicates that an education is not once and done either. The School Sisters of Notre Dame attained high degrees of education and in retirement continued to read, create, sing, and serve others.
We Need More Teachers!
Educators change lives. Our current teacher shortage is harming our brains not just today but tomorrow and for decades to come.