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A Recipe for Inspiring Lifelong Learning

Edutopia – Ben Johnson

“I recently visited a tiny town in northern Texas that is famous for one thing: dinosaur tracks. As I walked through the river and stepped into gigantic tracks, I thought that these huge lizards had no inkling that so many years later bipedal mammals like me would be following their footsteps in wonder. It made me reflect over my career as an educator, and what kinds of impressions I have left in the hearts and minds of the many students I have taught. I would like to hope that the impressions I left were favorable, even memorable.” (more)

Schools Are Missing What Matters About Learning

The Atlantic – Scott Barry Kaufman

“The power of curiosity to contribute not only to high achievement, but also to a fulfilling existence, cannot be emphasized enough. Curiosity can be defined as “the recognition, pursuit, and intense desire to explore, novel, challenging, and uncertain events”. In recent years, curiosity has been linked to happiness, creativity, satisfying intimate relationships, increased personal growth after traumatic experiences, and increased meaning in life. In the school context, conceptualized as a “character strength,” curiosity has also received heightened research attention. Having a “hungry mind” has been shown to be a core determinant of academic achievement, rivaling the prediction power of IQ.”(more)

Can pre-school children learn to do science?

The Guardian – Jenny Rohn

“Perhaps the intense curiosity of a toddler is only a developmental phase. Or more worryingly, natural curiosity might be squelched by exasperated, sleep-deprived parental rejoinders such as “just because” – or by formalised learning of long lists of scientific facts. (One of my step-daughters once brought home a summary of her year 7 school science curriculum: the entire programme seemed to be based solely on weights and measures.) Either way, if toddlers are naturally prone to being good scientists, are we as a society somehow missing a window of opportunity? I began to wonder how much of the rudiments of the scientific method are dealt with in the pre-school phase.”(more)

Festival explores what is possible with science

San Diego Union-Tribune – Sandy Coronilla

“You don’t need special powers to walk on water. That’s what many who attended this weekend’s Impossible Science Festival at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center discovered as they ran over, hopped onto and sometimes even sank into a pool of liquid Oobleck…The goal of the festival was to inspire visitors to “imagine how they can apply science to make today’s impossibilities into tomorrow’s realities,” Steven Snyder, chief executive officer of the science center, said in a statement. The reality is that American students rank 29th in math and 22nd in science when compared to their global counterparts…“The only thing separating magic from science is the understanding of the situation,” said Jason Latimer, host and designer of the festival…What better way to reach students than through curiosity and fun, Latimer said.”(more)

Schools can — and should — teach more than discipline

The Seattle Times – Jerry Large

“Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline doesn’t require more information or analysis. It requires a will to change strong enough to produce sustained, effective action. Someone said that the other night at a meeting about the pipeline. And a lot of people said what a lot of people have been saying for a very long time, the gist being don’t criminalize kids, educate them. Well, maybe it takes repetition to sink in deep enough to matter. Here’s a definition of the pipeline: “ … the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” That’s from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of numerous organizations working nationally to fix what’s wrong. Schools went along with the tough-on-crime, no-tolerance attitude that swept politics and the criminal-justice system in the 1980s. The result has been a huge increase in the number of children suspended or expelled, often for classroom behavior that could be dealt with productively if it were treated as a teaching opportunity.”(more)

How does adolescence offer a second chance to vulnerable teenagers?

UNICEF Connect – Benjamin Perks

“Over the past twenty years, there has been good news and bad news in research on adolescence. The bad news is that many more children than we ever thought before are entering adolescence with broken childhoods characterized by heartbreaking adverse experiences…The good news from neuroscience is the discovery of neuro-plasticity — that teenagers can strengthen the performance of their “executive function”, the part of the brain that coordinates behavior, choice and reaction, through learning non-cognitive or character skills…To divert for a moment from vulnerable children to all children, character skills are increasingly recognized in many countries as being as critical as IQ in determining academic and lifelong success for all. They are seen as essential for long-term economic competitiveness and socio-economic development and are being mainstreamed in K through 12 education. Character skills include instrumental skills such as optimism, curiosity, motivation, perseverance and self-control that drive overall performance in school and life.”(more)