Mind in the Making: The Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, By Ellen Gallinsky
SELF-DIRECTED, ENGAGED LEARNING
Establish a trustworthy relationship with your students.
We are role models for our students. They want to be like us. This has important implications for teaching and emotional development.
This is important because it:
1. Keeps children safe. If children are fearful and stressed – if they’re in a fight-or-flight situation for long periods of time – they’re less able to pay attention, to remember, and to have self-control. Children need to feel safe in order to learn.
2. Makes them feel secure. The day-in-day-out security of children’s relationships with the important people in their lives makes it possible for them to try new things, to learn new things.
Give them structure. Part of being reliable is providing structure, a routine and pattern for their lives that children can count on.
PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS:
1. Identify the dilemma, problem or issue. So many of the situations we deal with as Teacher’s aren’t clear-cut. Bob Johansson of the Institute for the Future, makes the point that most of the issues we address in this day and age are dilemmas, rather than problems because they don’t have easy answers – they’re recurring, complex, messy, and puzzling.
2. Determine the goal. Be as specific as possible.
3. Come up with alternative solutions.
4. Consider how these alternative solutions might work.
5. Select a solution to try. There are LOTS of children’s’ books that deal --with dilemmas and solutions.
6. Evaluate the outcome and, if the solution isn’t working, try something else. From the author: “…because children learned to use this process for themselves when they had tough issues to deal with, they usually become forthright and honest.– the essential skill of critical thinking, is a skill that we can continue to draw on daily.”
Action: Promote your children’s curiosity. To promote curiosity, be careful not to jump in too quickly to fix things they’re struggling with, since working with the “confounding” situation is where critical thinking is promoted. Instead, where possible, help them figure out how they can resolve it for themselves. (Inductive reasoning)
Critical Thinking draws on all of the seven skills – FOCUS to pursue knowledge; SELF-CONTROL to define the issue and determine our goals, consider alternative solutions and evaluate the evidence to determine if it will work; MAKE CONNECTIONS through brainstorming alternatives; PERSPECTIVE TAKING when we consider how our solutions affect others; and COMMUNICATING. In addition to all these, critical thinking involves “thinking about our thinking” (metacognition) by reflecting, analyzing, reasoning, planning and evaluating (all higher level thinking skills).
Action: Be an expert – try to provide accurate and valid information to your children. We can model critical thinking by encouraging our children to ask questions and by responding with accurate information, always keeping in mind what they are ready to understand. This can include looking up the information when we don’t remember or don’t know the answers.
MAKING CONNECTIONS ~ THE ARTS AND THE BRAIN
Learning about the Arts affects cognitive life:
1. Through an increase in focused attention
2. Promotes an increase in motivation (184)
3. “When children have training in the arts, they learn to pay attention, to stay focused and to resist distraction, noting that these skills lead to improvements in “fluid intelligence and in IQ.” (Michael Posner, University of Oregon)
Action: Acknowledge that making mistakes is not only okay, it is part of learning. Rather than being judgmental or critical if your child makes a mistake, talk to your children the way you would like to be talked to when you make a mistake. “That was really close” or “That is hard and you are really working at it.” Gallinsky