TAMPA, FL – Dr. Deborah Kozdras joined the Gus A. Stavros Center at the University of South Florida (USF) in 2010 as an Instructor and Chief Creative Officer. Prior to her work at the Stavros Center, Dr. Kozdras worked for 11 years as an elementary school teacher. From 2005-2010 she completed her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Literacy and the English Language Arts at USF. While completing the program, Dr. Kozdras was the recipient of a Carnegie Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education. She has presented both research and practical workshops at a variety of national and international conferences and has published a variety of articles, book chapters, and lesson plans.
Dr. Kozdras also conducts workshops for K-12 educators in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Polk, and Manatee counties about financial literacy and the global economy. She was featured in a WUSF article on March 18 about her work.
She told WUSF that “children generally have enthusiasm for engagement, but they need to be shown how to be good citizens” and “First… teachers should start with facts and root out biases.”
“We are focusing a lot in our curriculum on looking for evidence,” Kozdras said, WUSF reported. “Teachers are really interested in having students read primary documents and make inferences from the evidence and search for bias.”
She noted “the study of behavioral economics for an example of how bias gets in the way of clear choices,” WUSF reported.
Kozdras said, “A lot of decisions are made based on emotions. When you have something that causes emotion in people that makes it much more difficult for them to make decisions,” WUSF reported.
“Kids sometimes have this innate sense of fairness and kindness in them,” she said, WUSF reported, “They hate litter, and things like hurting animals and other people.”
She said “children are more likely to engage when they feel like they have some control over the situation,” WUSF reportedm adding that “you give them those opportunities to talk about the things that are going on in their world, and what they would want to do about it.”
Of the options for kids, Kozdras said, “They could create a tweet or a meme or a blog or send it out on their mom’s Facebook page,” WUSF reported.
Kozdras’ suggestions for parents “who may not have the classroom skills,” include, “talk to your children as if they’re not children. Talk to them as if they’re another voice that you want to talk to,” WUSF reported.
Kozdras also suggests asking, “What do you think about this? And why?” and recommends that “families work together on learning projects,” WUSF reported.
“You could talk about these things around dinner with your kids… create a song together, record the song, put it on your Facebook,” Kozdras said, WUSF reported.