How Children Succeed (Con’t)

IMG-1334

It’s Sunday and that means…research update!

Page 91, Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (or CBT) involves using the conscious mind to recognize negative or self-destructive thoughts or interpretations and to (sometimes literally), talk yourself into a better perspective.

CBT is just one example under the big umbrella of “Metacognition.” Talking about character, evaluating character are metacognitive strategies.

However, just knowing about strategies is not enough.

Gabrielle Oettingen (NYU Psychologist) says people tend to use one of three strategies when setting goals and only one is very effective:

  1. Envisioning achieving the goal – this feels so good when you do it. It feels motivating and it can trigger a dopamine surge. But studies show that just doing this is NOT sufficient.
  2. Pessimists dwell on obstacles to their goals and of course, this is ineffective.
  3. Mental Contrasting is effective – it’s kind of a combination of both: focus on the positive outcome but at the same time, acknowledge the obstacles. The necessary next step is to create a series of implementation intentions:

If/then statements – “If I get distracted from my work, then I will…”

This is setting rules for yourself.

Rules overcome drawbacks of willpower which redirects our attention from the obstacle or challenge and helps us become automatic in practicing positive behavior.

According to Duckworth: “Habits are character.”

Group identity (stereotypes) can have both positive and negative effects on achievement.

Before a challenging math test, female college students need only be reminded that they are female for them to do WORSE on the test than female students who do not receive that identity cue. (p. 96)

Telling students that intelligence is malleable has led to better academic performance.

A study of low-income 7th grade students in Texas were divided into two groups:

  1. heard a growth mindset message
  2. heard an anti-drug message

The first group performed significantly better – girls who used to lag behind boys in math closed the gap completely.

16. Report Cards

 

Dual-purpose instruction – when teachers deliberately work explicit talk about character strengths into every lesson.

Optimism, self-control, social intelligence are a few examples

“Character strengths can become character weaknesses.” For example, someone with too much grit might then be weak in empathy towards others. There is a balance that needs to be reached.

17. Climbing the Mountain p. 101

KIPP School – tracking students in college

“…it’s the character piece that has held some back (procrastination). Depression is also an issue.”

The impact of poverty catches up even with children who are resilient.

Character can function as a substitute for social net that the middle and upper class kids enjoy.

To succeed, they need more grit, social intelligence and more self-control than wealthier kids.

But KIPP students who graduate do not have just a diploma. They have the knowledge that they climbed a mountain to get it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Teacher, Not a Martyr

Image result for red for ed shirts arizona

Mr. Wright is leaving. He’s my daughters’ high school orchestra teacher. Everyone is deeply saddened because he’s an exceptional teacher and person. In fact, he just won the district’s exemplary teacher’s award. His students were crestfallen – he’s such an amazing teacher! This is his dream job. So why is he leaving?

Because he can’t afford to stay: His wife stays at home and he has children he must support and can’t with a teacher’s salary.

This is wrong.

One of my co-workers is a single mom and her two sons are not covered under health insurance because she can’t afford it. Every sniffle, ache and potential accident gives her great cause to worry.

This is wrong.

Arizona has been identified as the worst for teacher pay and teacher friendliness by at least two separate studies. More teachers are leaving than entering with each year. Even substitute teachers are in great shortage.

This is wrong.

It’s time to make things right in Arizona’s education system. You can ignore the symptoms of any illness, but that doesn’t mean it will go away.

“How Children Succeed” (Con’t)

IMG-1311
Mini Bell Peppers (2 peppers = full day  of Vitamin C!)

Here is a continuation of my notes on Paul Tough’s research regarding “grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character” as it pertains to children:

  1. Grit  p. 74

“Duckworth realized self-control has limitations. She believed that a passionate commitment to a single mission and an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission are more relevant when it comes to inventing something new or creating an award-winning (movie)/project. She called this characteristic grit.”

She created a 12 (now 10) question survey that turned out to be a remarkably accurate predictor of success.

It was more accurate a predictor of graduation rates for West Point than their own assessments.

  1. Quantifying Character

Levin, Randolph, Seligman and Peterson narrowed a set of strengths that were indicators of life success and happiness:

  • Grit
  • Self-control
  • Zest
  • Social intelligence
  • Gratitude
  • Optimism
  • Curiosity

They then created a “character report card”

Much confusion among educators regarding “character” – is it moral? Is it “performance character?”

  1. Affluence

Wealthy families may have “helicopter” parents (parents who hover over their kids as they do homework, sports, etc) but that does NOT mean they are spending quality family time together. In fact, many high-achieving, wealthy families are not closely bonded.

  • Madeline Levine, psychologist in Marin County, says that wealthy parents are more emotionally distant than any other parent from their children
  • Intense feelings of shame and hopelessness in their kids
  • Levine was inspired by Suniya Luthar, psychology professor at Columbia Univ who did a comparison study between low-income and high-income households.
  • Found 22% of wealthy kids suffered elevated rates of depression and clinically significant symptoms
  • 35% of affluent kids tried all four substances (alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and harder illegal drugs
  • 15% of poor kids tried all four
  • Dan Kindlon, assistant professor of child psychology at Harvard, also found an emotional disconnect between wealthy kids and their parents
  • These parents were overly indulgent in their children’s bad behavior
  • Parents making more than $1 million said that they were far less strict than their own parents
  • A little hardship – discomfort – is good for children!
  • This is an issue in private schools – telling parents they are not parenting properly means you are criticizing your employers (clients)
  • A school like Riverdale (expensive, private – graduates include Chevy Chase, Carly Simon, etc) is not meant to help raise the ceiling, but to raise the floor = give kids a high probability of nonfailure.
  • They do not develop grit

 

  1. Discipline  p. 86

KIPP used to practice a lot of disciplinary action (some of which Levin regretted)

SLANT – stand up, listen, ask questions, nod, and track – taught at KIPP 5th grade

Code-switching – you must learn and practice proper behavior for the museum, college interview and nice restaurants

Rich kids at Riverdale wear casual clothes and slouch

Kids at KIPP are taught to have good posture and track teachers…formal speech

The administrators of both schools disagree on this point – what should students be taught?