I have a few articles today that I thought were worth sharing in more detail than in my regular Twitter links post. Topics include the importance of play, the role of teachers in showing kids what it's like to love learning, ways for teachers to create a reading culture, and reasons why just praising effort is not enough to cultivate a growth mindset in kids. So much interesting food for thought out there on learning and education! I wish I could spend all day reading and thinking and talking about these issues.
Scott Wiley: "Less recess, less playful teaching practices, more drill, more rote learning methods. These are all creating less healthy, less fit, less creative, less prepared children... I want to know more about using play in intentional, purposeful ways to help children develop in healthy ways."
Me: Scott is reading The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by David Elkind. His post includes his summary of the introduction to The Power of Play, and Scott's own thoughts about this issue. The reduction in time that kids have for free, unstructured play is something that bothers me also. Another book that I liked on this topic was Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray.
Mr. Teller: "The first job of a teacher is to make the student fall in love with the subject. That doesn’t have to be done by waving your arms and prancing around the classroom; there’s all sorts of ways to go at it, but no matter what, you are a symbol of the subject in the students’ minds...What I have, however, is delight. I get excited about things. That is at the root of what you want out of a teacher; a delight in what the subject is, in the operation. That’s what affects students."
Me: This is a really interesting piece by Jessica Lahey about how an entertainer who has been a teacher sees the role of teachers in getting kids engaged with learning (education as performance art). I liked the idea that it is a teacher's genuine delight in a subject that will get kids interested.
Jarred Amato: "There is no magic formula, special sauce, or computer program that will turn our reluctant, struggling readers into confident, proficient ones. Instead, it requires that we trust and embrace the process of developing and nurturing lifelong readers. If teachers and leaders commit to creating a culture of reading in their schools, the results will inevitably follow. And by results, I’m not just talking test scores, although those will improve too. Research shows that students who identify as readers are significantly happier, less stressed, more empathetic, and ultimately far more prepared to succeed in this crazy thing we call life."
Me: This is a solid piece with both motivation and concrete tips for teachers on building a reading culture in classrooms. Amato focuses on the importance of making sure that kids have time to read, and giving them choice in what they read. He also has a nice list of seven statements that people who are readers would tend to agree with, and he challenges people on whether their students would be likely to agree. He includes: "I generally only read about things that I deem interesting or worthwhile." As adults, we do this, and kids will certainly be more receptive to reading if we can find ways for them to make this true also.
KJ Dell'Antonia: "In doing so, we take a big idea — that the ability to keep trying matters more than immediate success — and drag it down to a small scale. While we’re at it, we risk teaching our children to expect that any effort, no matter how puny or how enabled, should be enough to earn them the results they desire.That’s far from the real message of the research surrounding the growth mind-set.
Just as effort alone can’t deliver results, praising effort isn’t enough to help a child develop a love for the challenge of learning. Both parents and teachers should follow that “great effort” message with something more. Dr. Dweck provides a list of suggestions in anarticle for Education Week. "
Me: The point of this article is that if parents want to raise children who truly have a learning-focused, growth mindset, it's not enough to just keep praising them for trying. As in adult life, sometimes trying isn't enough. Sometimes you have to try something different. You can't sit back and say: "well, I did try," and let it go at that. There's also a nice point made in the article that for older kids, it can be important for them to understand that their successes are not always entirely due to their own efforts. Not everyone has had the same opportunities. Of course my 5 year old loves books - she has hundreds of them (with thanks to this blog). Developing that love of reading is a lot more difficult for the child who has no books at home.