Category Archives: mentoring / apprenticeship

A for effort. Can a growth mindset itself be developed?

Is teaching a growth mindset possible? (In other words, does a person think their intelligence/talents are fixed traits or that they can be developed?)

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.” — Carol Dweck

Dweck thinks so. 10 minute TED talk below complete with brain scans.
(Or play at 1.25 or 1.5 speed! ūüôā

In the face of difficulty: “I love a challenge”
“You know, I was hoping this would be informative”

The math video game she mentions I guess is this:
http://www.mindsetworks.com/webnav/pricing.aspx

Another way of looking at it is… maybe we are all born with a growth mindset, but many of our experiences can pull it out of us. So the idea should be to not so much teach it, as to not suck it out of people in the first place? Flip side of the same idea I guess.

So that’s why I think Sudbury Schools are approaching things in a reasonable way. Whereas I think most traditional schools are very risky in that it is quite likely that they will suck the growth mindset out. Some kids might make it through intact, but it’s a serious risk.

SEE ALSO:
Hal Sadofsky on which is the riskier approach — Sudbury or traditional school

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Filed under growth mindset, mentoring / apprenticeship, nature vs nurture, person: Carol Dweck, raising kids / parenting, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, talent vs skill, unconditional love, underestimating kids, video games

Blended learning at Sudbury Valley School

So… there is this thing apparently… called Blended Learning. And I am sorry, but this is just another case where I can’t help but say… yes, but students at Sudbury Valley School have been doing this for 45+ years. What’s the big deal?

Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning ) says blended learning is when “…a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.”

So:
1) partially digital/online content — CHECK
2) student control over time, place, path or pace — CHECK

That’s because:
1) There is no curriculum at Sudbury Schools
2) And there is free access to the internet and all forms of media.

So yeah, blended learning, flip the classroom, mentoring, etc. Knock yourself out. Whatever works for you. That’s the important thing.

SEE ALSO:
Autodidacticism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism

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Filed under mentoring / apprenticeship, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

School vs Summer Camp

I find it interesting that one often hears or reads testimonials from parents (or ¬†alumni) about how transformative their experience at a certain (usually- but-not-always ¬†“overnight”) summer camp has been, but yet they are equally attached to the school they are sending their kids to the other 9-10 months of the year which in many ways expouses the polar opposite in ideals and structure.

Camp: play, freedom, age-mixing with teen-age counselors

School: ¬†sitting, following someone else’s agenda, no age-mixing — spending the entire day with other kids who are exactly the same age (or at most 1 year’s difference)

How does this make sense? I guess the idea is that the school year it’s time to buckle-down, but then I would think you would hear lots of testimonials about the transformative effect of school. ¬†“It was so hard to sit still, but wow it was an amazing experience!”

At least swap the 2 and 10 months.  Not too long ago, kids went to school for only a few weeks a year.  Like summer camp today.

Or go whole hog and send your kids to a democratic free school, like Sudbury Valley School (SVS) and let them have a transformative experience all year long!

Caveats:

I’m not saying there isn’t value in mixing things up and doing different things at different times of the year — e.g. our kids enjoy having a break from SVS to do other things, and I enjoy the seasons in New England — skiing for part of the year, swimming for part of the year, etc.

I’m also not under the delusion that a democratic free school / Sudbury school is trying to serve the same purpose as a summer camp. ¬†My sense of the summer camps that have such rave reviews (from my kids as well) are the ones (in additional to having ample time for free play and freedom to choose activities instead of following a set plan) also have excellent teen-age and college-age (or older) counselors who excel in their roles as active mentors within their cabins/tents and during free activity periods. ¬†That’s not exactly the same thing as a Sudbury School either where any mentoring is absolutely student-initiated. ¬† My sense (again, from my kids) is that the active mentoring aspect is nice to have for a little bit — a few weeks per year, OK– but my kids (even when they were 4 and 5) end up MUCH preferring the complete freedom they get at SVS for a few hours each day (now it’s 5 or 6 hours, but when they were little it was just a few.)

You should see the excitement I see as they get ready for school (there is often a lot of gear!  They are WORKING on things!) and head off toward the main building to sign in each morning.

 

 

 

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Filed under camp, mentoring / apprenticeship, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

“Gene, an accomplished guitar player, sent me a long email on the subject of motivation, with some ideas I’ve never seen before. Condensed excerpt:

To master any truly difficult skill it’s not enough to just want it; you have to be obsessed. If you have to force yourself to pick it up you’re screwed; if you have to force yourself to put it down you know you’re on the right track.

You told me that the only thing you’ve ever had to force yourself to stop was video games. Ask yourself: why exactly are video games so addictive? Of course it’s because of the constant reward system. Every thirty seconds you get a reward of some kind. The next question is: how can I duplicate this experience in other areas?

When I was learning to play, I always broke any challenge down into it’s smallest possible chunks. A fast lick might seem impossible taken as a whole, but how difficult is it to play the first three notes? If I play those three notes over and over for ten minutes, always keeping it down to a tempo at which I can play it correctly at all times, will I be able to work them up to performance tempo in those ten minutes? Assuming you haven’t chosen something way beyond your level, the answer is probably yes!

By doing it this way, you’re creating a lot of very small, quick successes for yourself. If you set yourself a goal to bring those first three notes up to performance tempo and you succeed in just a few minutes, the flush of success releases endorphins in the brain. If you continue to duplicate that experience every few minutes you get addicted to practicing.

Talent is an intuitive grasp of rapid learning. Fortunately you don’t really need that intuitive understanding… that’s what a teacher is for! Unfortunately most teachers haven’t analyzed their own formative years sufficiently to understand the ingredients of their own success as players. I have consistently found that students who listen to me and practice as I described above will progress ten times faster than anyone else.

It’s also true that these are the students who become obsessed. I’ve believed for years that they listened to me and practiced in this way because they were obsessed, but since I’ve come to believe that I had cause and effect confused. They become obsessed because they practice this way!”

http://ranprieur.com/, Sept 1, 2014

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Filed under addiction, mentoring / apprenticeship, talent vs skill, teaching, video games

More Woodworking with Kids links

Since we (as in… the world) is going to be in an ongoing struggle between globalization and re-localization for the foreseeable future, along with it’s impact on the education of our kids and ourselves, here are a few more links on the topic of woodworking with kids that I started back here. Nothing compares to the thrill my kids get of doing real things with their bodies — skiing, cooking, gardening, sawing logs, etc. (Except Minecraft. And Wild Kratts. And… well, you see the issue.)

So here we go.

Kindergrarten Shop Class – NYTimes.com

Mar 30, 2011 ‚Äď Teaching children construction is gaining momentum across the country as a way to develop imagination and confidence

– If you’re in the Boston area, Wood is Good occasionally offers classes for kids.

– And The Eliot School, Boston MA offers endless courses for kids including “Very Beginning Woodworking – age 4-6”

– In NC, go to “summer camp” with a 5-day workshop from Roy Underhill. Here’s an example

MORE FROM 2014

– Shop Class integral part of this private school for boys
http://www.npr.org/2014/07/27/335804557/lessons-in-manhood-a-boys-school-turns-work-into-wonders?ft=1&f=1003

– A great 10 minute video about…
The Blue Ox Mill and Community High School, Eureka CA
A custom mill and woodworking classes for kids and veterans
Eric Hollenbeck

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Filed under alternative education, education, globalization, green, health, homeschooling, homesteading, kids -- freedom and responsibility, local, makerspace, mentoring / apprenticeship, minecraft, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, unschooling, video games, woodworking / shop class