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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Elephant Has Come Home to Roost

Milton Chen's second part of his article on Carol Dweck, et. al. came out a couple days ago. I commented on the first part earlier.

Chen interviewed Dweck through email, and asked what teachers and parents could do for their children. Dweck offered several suggestions. I want to focus on what I see as the real transformational piece of information: Convince the child that their brain is not finished making connections. This information has been around for a long time, because I have always chosen to work with middle school kids because I believe it is "our last, best chance to make a positive difference in the lives of kids" is how I have put it since the late 1980s before I was in education. I worked in ministry then, and the research (though I don't know who provided the research) then stated that the brain grows the fastest and makes more neurological connections from birth to two years. The brain never again makes as many new connections as the first 3 years of life, but the years of a child's pre-adolescence present the second-best time for new connections in the brain to be made.

Our nation spends millions on pre-K, nursery school, and commercials telling parents how important it is to read to kids. We have had Pampers provide classical music CDs in their packages. But of all kids, who are the ones who receive the least attention? The middle school child. They are Jan Brady, caught in the middle of the all-important SAT high schoolers, and "let's do it for the children" elementary kids. But, the brain makes the greatest and most new connections from 0-3 years old and 11-14 years old (give or take a year or two).

The 11-14 year olds are the kids with whom no one wants to attach themselves. As a group, they are rebellious, ungrateful, and seeking independence and identity. Who wants to help this kind of kid? Not many...not enough. I look forward to reading Dweck's work to see what she offers for the kid in the middle.

Chen provides the resources:
The results of their study are being published in a Child Development article titled "Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement Across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention." Dweck also wrote a book last year called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

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