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Common sense a prerequisite for brilliance

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Do high standardized test scores assure success?

Many highly-accomplished people had far from perfect scores on the SAT test. Some struggled to get through college and others dropped out. With these results, there must be more to success than academic brilliance.

Granted, technological advances have made academic knowledge, especially in math and the sciences, more important. However, common sense is just as vital as it was fifty years ago. Sadly, many parents have become so focused on academic knowledge and fame that common sense has fallen by the wayside.

Common sense is something most of us understand intuitively, but is difficult to define. It is a combination of wisdom and self-discipline.

According to Wordnik wisdom is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Wisdom is not something that can be found in a textbook, taught in a classroom, or downloaded from the Internet. It is not tested through standardized tests like the SAT, MCAT, or GRE. Instead it is something that comes with exposure and experience.

The same dictionary defines self-discipline as, “Training and control of one’s conduct.” Self-discipline is generally modeled and taught at home through structure, responsibility, consequences, and praise.

Before the age of helicopter parents, most kids developed common sense as part of everyday life. Children were given considerable responsibility. Parents set expectations and there were consequences for poor choices. Only the winners received trophies. Through the school of hard knocks kids gradually learned how to present ideas, communicate with others, and alert people of delays. They came to understand the importance of punctuality and how to diplomatically address problems.

Now many parents are so worried about the “perfect” D1 sports program, landing a lead movie role, etc. that they do too much of their kids. It is often better to set general extra-curricular involvement requirements and establish minimum effort expectations rather than micromanage.

Finally, it is important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If a child is going to be late, he/she should notify the adult in charge. When a child damages property, he/she needs to earn money for the repair. And when a child performs poorly on a test, he/she needs to get a poor grade rather than have his/her parent negotiate with the principal.

Stepping out of the micromanagement role is challenging. However, it is easier once we realize our children need an environment that fosters common sense to become truly brilliant.

Back to school: How to avoid overscheduling your kid

USA Today – Kelly-Jane Cotter

“So you’ve agreed to let your child play hockey, run cross-country, join the swim team, learn piano, star in the school play, take voice lessons, join robotics club, take SAT prep, volunteer at the food pantry, volunteer at the animal shelter, work part-time, keep up with National Honor Society and continue in Scouting. Too much? Yeah, probably.”(more)

Parents Can Do More To Foster Science Learning at Home: New Bayer 2016 Back-to-school Survey

PR News Wire – Anya Kamenetz

“Results of the 2016 Bayer Making Science Make Sense® initiative Back-to-School Survey released today reveals that parents can do more to nurture their children’s innate interest in science by leveraging everyday activities, such a cooking, doing the laundry, or exploring in the backyard, as science lessons for the family…The survey assesses extracurricular learning opportunities provided by parents outside of the classroom. These survey results further validate results from Bayer’s 2015 Facts of Science Education Survey that found teachers and parents agree that more hands-on, experiential learning must be adopted in order to improve science education for future generations. The 2016 Back-to-School Survey also found that parents say science is the number one school subject that children are interested in outside of the classroom. Despite this, parents who offered their children extracurricular activities in school subjects on a daily basis did so much more often in the subjects of English and math rather than in science.”(more)

Quantity vs. Quality: How to Make your Extracurricular Activities Meaningful

The Huffington Post – Pooja Yesantharao and Ishan Puri

“Admission to your dream college is not only contingent on academic success, but also your extracurricular work. College admission officers want to know you as more than just a number- they want to know what makes you tick – what are you passionate about, what drives you? Many students are convinced that they need to build up a huge resume, with pages and pages of activities that they are involved in. However, admissions officers do not want to see a resume with hundreds of activities, each of which you only spent a small amount of time on. They know that as a student, you only have a limited amount of time beyond your academic obligations, and they want to see that you use that time to truly pursue your interests and passions. Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue diverse activities or interests, but whatever you do choose to pursue, you should make meaningful.”(more)

Extracurricular Sports Help Kids Develop Discipline in the Classroom

Pysch Central – Rick Nauert PhD

“A new Canadian study suggests regular, structured extramural sports help kids develop the discipline they need in order to engage effectively in the classroom. Researchers from the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital lead the study. “We worked with information provided by parents and teachers to compare kindergarteners’ activities with their classroom engagement as they grew up,” said Linda Pagani, Ph.D. “By time they reached the fourth grade, kids who played structured sports were identifiably better at following instructions and remaining focused in the classroom. There is something specific to the sporting environment — perhaps the unique sense of belonging to a team to a special group with a common goal — that appears to help kids understand the importance of respecting the rules and honoring responsibilities.” Professor Pagani and her colleagues Geneviève Piché and Caroline Fitzpatrick came to their conclusions after reviewing the data on 2,694 children who were born in Quebec between 1997 and 1998. The information was retrieved from the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Child Development, a public data set coordinated by the province’s statistical institute.”(more)

The more opportunity kids have, the brighter our future, author says

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“The Fourth of July weekend is a good time to pause to appreciate the opportunities that America offers to so many millions of us. I focus generally in these columns on the problems and needs of kids and schools, but I also have many chances to see the good, often great, things kids are doing and the great things going on in many schools. Bright futures beckon for many of the students I meet. This is not lip service. I can name specific schools I have visited, specific parents and kids I have talked to, just in the last few weeks, that show that the positive heartbeat of America is strong. But opportunity is a complicated subject. That, too, is something worth considering on as we mark our independence. This brings me to my book report for today. “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” by Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam, is a provocative, detailed examination of the paths to successful lives in America. More and more, the chance to travel those paths is easier for some than for others, Putnam argues. When it comes to opportunity, America is not exactly an equal opportunity place.”(more)