Understanding Vulnerability in Education

Understanding Vulnerability in Education, When it comes to vulnerability, especially in the preteen years, things can get pretty intense. Kids often resort to being harsh and judgmental as a way to protect themselves. It’s like they’re saying, “If you look dumb, then I won’t.” Mix that with not fully understanding what’s going on around you, and you’ve got a recipe for some tough times that can stick with you into adulthood.

Healing Our Inner Schoolchild

I believe that most people could use some support in healing that inner schoolchild who still remembers the ups and downs of those school days. The funny thing is, deep down, we all have similar feelings, thoughts, and experiences. If we focused more on sharing and understanding these vulnerable moments rather than worrying about looking dumb, we could probably avoid a lot of the hurt caused by negative peer interactions.

Breaking the Silence

Think about it: have you ever been in a situation where you felt panicked and unsure, but you didn’t speak up because you didn’t want to seem dumb? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. And yet, despite all feeling the same way, we often stay silent. It’s time to change that.

Understanding Executive Functioning

Psychologist Clancy Blair talks about something called executive functions. These are basically the skills we use for reasoning, planning, problem-solving, and managing our lives. They’re all connected to different parts of our brain, some of which deal with emotions and stress.

The Impact of Stress

Blair explains that too much or too little stimulation can mess with our executive functions. So, if we’re stressed out or bored, it can affect how well we can think and learn.

Making Executive Functioning Part of the Curriculum

Imagine if we made executive functioning a regular part of school. Each student would understand themselves better, how they learn, and where they might struggle. When teachers help students figure out what’s blocking their executive functioning, they can use strategies to overcome those obstacles. This can help reduce negative self-talk and boost confidence.

Learning to Recognize Cognitive Roadblocks

It’s also important to learn how to recognize when someone might need extra time or a different approach to learning. Understanding executive functioning can help with this. It makes the learning environment more understanding and less judgmental.

Creating a Supportive Classroom Culture

As a teacher, I found that creating a supportive learning space took some trial and error. But by consistently practicing some simple steps, I was able to foster a culture where everyone felt understood. It’s all about recognizing what’s going on beneath the surface for each student.


Understanding executive functioning isn’t just about helping students learn better. It’s about creating a more empathetic and supportive learning environment where everyone feels valued and understood. So let’s break the silence and start talking about it.