How Children Succeed (Con’t)

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set Your Mind to It

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Photo by Annie Spratt

When I was five and my sister was four, our babysitter watched us coloring in our coloring books. Where my sister stayed within the lines, I colored slightly (OK, maybe not so slightly) outside the lines. “JoAnne colors nicely and Caroline needs to work on that a little bit.” Her sarcasm was not lost on me, even then.

This bit of criticism colored my world (pardon the pun!) “I am not a good artist.” This was just something I accepted for many years. But I’ve always longed to draw and paint. For someone with no formal art education, I think I am pretty OK. I think I can improve and I very much want to improve.

Thanks to Carol Dweck, we can all sigh optimistically now.

For eons, people believed in the “Fixed Mindset”  – that talents are innate and readily apparent; Believers assert that one should avoid mistakes and failures. In fact, if you find yourself failing at something, people who adopt the “fixed mindset” philosophy say you ought to just quit, because clearly, it’s not for you.

But Dweck, one of the leading researchers of motivation, discovered the truth about achievement and learning: The Growth Mindset. She says you learn from mistakes. You grow! Intelligence and talent are developed and in order to be successful, you must make mistakes. Clearly, this is true. The Wright brothers did not discover how to create a plane on the first attempt and Edison did not discover the light bulb on his first try, either. One needs to make mistakes to learn, grow and achieve.

Growth Mindset believers say “yet”  is the magic word. I can’t draw well yet, but with consistent practice and quality education, I will!

Check out her website: mindsetonline.com. It includes a test to determine where you are on the mindset continuum and ways to change it.

I’m going to start drawing lessons (free) on skillshare.com. Go Growth Mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Palo Alto’s Potent Transformer

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.*

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Eastside College Preparatory School’s Outdoor Education Program

I interviewed the Vice Principal and Co-Founder of Eastside College Preparatory School today (Helen Kim). Trying to write a blog post about the interview in 20 minutes (which is all I have tonight!) would not begin to do her or her school justice. Not even close. But I will write about one very important aspect of her work with low-income students who are college-bound: growth mindset. One of the most critical factors for success in helping her students reach their monumental goals is to have them perform self-assessments and self-reflection. One of the questions they most pose of themselves regularly (each quarter, minimum) is: Do I have a growth mindset?

Asking this question is very powerful. Instead of believing success in certain areas are “fixed,” its premise is that through hard work and focus, one can achieve lofty goals. The question empowers the student.

Eastside College Preparatory School consistently and vigorously trains their students to love learning and to be resilient. THIS is the key to success! Of course, academic basics and content mastery are important, but without love of learning, one is apt to quit when the going gets rough. And believe me, the going is going to get rough.

In a world that seems to be going a bit loco, it is truly heartening to know there are people like Helen and her staff who work tirelessly, selflessly and energetically to help others in need.

*http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/