Posted on March 11th, 2013 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 2 Comments
Being a skeptic has been given a bad rap in modern society. Why? Because skepticism is often confused with cynicism.
Let’s explore the distinctions and why it’s important to teach children the art of becoming a skeptic.
A cynic distrusts most information they see or hear, particularly when it challenges their own belief system. Most often, cynics hold views that cannot be changed by contrary evidence. Thus, they often become intolerant of other people’s ideas. It’s not difficult to find cynics everywhere in our society, from the halls of Congress to our own family dinner tables.
Skepticism, on the other hand, is a key part of critical thinking – a goal of education. The term skeptic is derived from the Greek skeptikos, meaning “to inquire” or “look around.” A skeptic requires additional evidence before accepting someone’s claims as true. They are willing to challenge the status quo with open-minded, deep questioning.
In today’s complex world, skeptics and cynics are often hard to differentiate. While the ability to challenge human authority has led to important innovation and reform, it has also made it possible, for a price, to prove our “rightness.” Oftentimes, what appear to be legitimate studies are manipulated to support a particular idea or outcome that a company, individual, or government believes is the truth. read more »
Posted on February 18th, 2013 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 5 Comments
I used to believe learning was for the young. If we learned enough in school, we’d be prepared for careers and families. But as I have grown older — and hopefully wiser — I know that learning comes with each new day.
When we think of scholars like Socrates, Einstein, or Aristotle, we are reminded of great learners and their eternal quest for knowledge. But how do we develop that quest in children and teens – the drive that propels them to embrace the practice of learning throughout their lives?
Thanks to research in neuroscience and human development, scientists can now explain how learning happens from cradle to grave. It turns out that lifelong learning is a natural part of being alive.
But some people are more open to learning throughout their lives than others. They seek out and respond to experiences in ways that challenge their minds, hearts, and bodies. It is as though learning flows through them like blood through veins.
Becoming a seeker of lifelong learning is critical in today’s fast-changing world. Learning is not only a matter of absorbing information but a process of developing many other internal skills, like curiosity, perseverance, and the ability to tackle tough challenges. read more »
Posted on January 21st, 2013 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 3 Comments
Do you parent, teach, or mentor a child with special needs? Of course you do!
As you know, the term special needs is most often associated with disabilities. It usually refers to a child who needs special assistance or accommodations for medical, psychological, or learning deficits.
But have we allowed the term special needs to create a cloud of darkness over children? Don’t all children have special needs? And can’t those special needs be sources of light and wisdom?
I raised a child with special needs, a daughter who was diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD. Of course, we gave her additional support and taught her how to advocate for her differences. But what most struck me from a developmental perspective was how much my daughter’s special needs were just like all of her peers.
The truth is that all children have special needs as they journey through childhood and adolescence. They feel awkward and different at times, insecure, and challenged by situations beyond their controls. read more »
Posted on December 19th, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 10 Comments
If you’re like most adults, you are probably a bit skeptical about the value of video games for children.
I’ll be the first to admit my own bias, particularly against violent games.
As I’ve watched my grandchildren play video games on smartphones and iPads, I’ve often wondered how it will affect their long-term development. But has research focused so heavily on the negative outcomes associated with video games that we’ve neglected to see the positive?
A recent article in the Journal of Adolescent Research caught my attention. It showed:
- Video games are the fastest growing type of entertainment in the world.
- 97% of U.S. adolescents play video games.
- Most young people ages 8-18 play video games an average of 13.2 hours per week.
I’m sure these figures are not shocking to the companies who develop and market video games to kids. But quite honestly, I was caught by surprise. Even more unexpected, the article challenged me to question my negative bias about video games. read more »
Posted on November 6th, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 19 Comments
I received a small package by mail last week from Bill Mash, an 82-year-old who is grieving the loss of his wife.
Bill is not the typical reader of my blog. And when he began his letter with, “Your website inspired me to send you a first draft of one of my short stories…,” I immediately wondered if this was one of many requests I receive from people who want me to help market their work.
But I was dead wrong.
What Bill wanted was to share a message about the important role of teachers – a message of how childhood teachers and role models influence us throughout our lives. “After 82 years,” he said, “I speak with a little experience to back this up!”
“Our minds are beautiful instruments,” Bill wrote. “I wanted you to see how the work you are dedicated to can deliver results that few would ever imagine.” read more »
Posted on October 8th, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 20 Comments
Can meditation positively change a young person’s life?
Absolutely it can!
Research in neuroscience and attention provides evidence that meditation strengthens the neural systems of the brain that are responsible for concentration and generating empathy. Becoming more mindful helps children and adolescents better regulate how life circumstances impact their mental health.
Last week, I posted an article at Psychology Today, Happiness or Harvard? — about high school valedictorian Carolyn Milander who discovered her own values about success through her meditation practice. If you haven’t read her compelling story of why she chose a community college over an Ivy-League school, don’t miss it!
All young people cope with stress in one form or another.
In schools, we teach reading, science, and math. Yet most communities miss one of the most important aspects of learning – how to care for and nurture the mind. read more »
Posted on September 24th, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 15 Comments
With the beginning of each school year comes an opportunity to wipe the grade slate clean — to ramp up expectations for high academic achievement in our children.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with good grades. That is, unless the stress of getting an “A” causes children to fail at developing the kinds of abilities that matter much more than grades. Even for children who naturally perform well on academic tests, a good grade is only one measurement of success. A few things that school testing cannot measure include:
- Social & Emotional Intelligence
- Critical thinking
- Capacity to love
Internal strengths, like those listed above, are far more important to a life of success and well-being than whether a child earns an “A” on an Algebra exam or are accepted to a top-rated university. In fact, many tests only measure a student’s ability to produce a correctly memorized answer. read more »
Posted on September 10th, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 25 Comments
Do you secretly see a budding genius in your child? Well, you may be right. At least Rick Ackerly, author of The Genius in Every Child, thinks so. And he makes a darn good argument!
A former elementary school principal, Ackerly writes convincingly about important conversations in today’s world of education and parenting. He wants parents and teachers to focus on the long term development of children rather than short run accomplishments.
Ackerly would like grownups to shift from a focus on test scores to a focus on enthusiasm for the genius in children. That genius comes by developing character, curiosity, and creativity.
Education is essentially backwards, Ackerly claims. Most people think of education as something we do to someone else:
Education is leading, not directing. Education is leading the genius out into the world to function creatively, effectively, and gracefully within it. Doing something to anyone is not education. Mobilizing the child’s genius, their inner authority, their teacher within, is critical for the success of the enterprise. Genius is the engine of education and the taproot of our learning. read more »
Posted on August 21st, 2012 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell – 29 Comments
What’s your parenting mindset as your children return to school? In addition to getting your student ready, back-to-school is also a time when most parents revisit strategies that help support their children during the academic year.
As a writer and researcher with a passion for positive youth development, I regularly connect with educators and psychologists who write superb articles for parents.
These authors share the latest thinking and research on learning, achievement, family well-being, parent engagement, special needs children, youth sports, media, technology, discipline, homework, bullying, and much more.
As your children get resettled into the school routine, take some time for yourself – to reflect on your own values about education and how you can more intentionally support your children. I’ve compiled what I believe are some of the best recent articles for parents – from a variety of reputable bloggers. The list is divided by topic and I’ve put a short summary of what you will find in each one. read more »