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Common sense a prerequisite for brilliance

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

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.

Online schooling wave of the future or failed experiment?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“You have probably heard the claim, “If you choose to educate your child online, he/she will be a social misfit.” To analyze this assertion, it is important to understand online education.

There are two basic types of online education: real-time and self-paced. In real-time online courses, students attend class on a computer. Classes are held at specified times and students participate in discussions during class periods. Each real-time online class is slightly different, because students participate in the instruction.

Self-paced courses are prepared in advance. Students progress through the material at their own pace. There is no real-time class interaction. Proficiency is sometimes tested with quizzes or tests that are integrated into the learning material. In this case, students must pass a quiz/test before they move on to future lessons. In other cases, students are required to go to proctored test centers to take exams.

In general, self-paced courses work well for material that requires little discussion. Real-time classes are more effective when most of the student learning occurs during classroom dialog.

Online education is appealing, because there is less wasted time. There is no need to drive to a physical location, worry about disruptions that occur in physical classrooms, or waste time dressing for school. In addition, students and parents have the ability to work school around other things in their lives.

Self-paced instruction is more cost effective than traditional classroom teaching, because lectures are prepared in advance and are used many times. In addition, this type of course delivery can be of higher quality than traditional classroom instruction, because the best teachers can present the content and there are no interruptions.

Some students find self-paced online instruction challenging, because they can procrastinate to the point that it is nearly impossible to learn the material. As a result, there is a reasonable argument that self-paced instruction is only appropriate for highly motivated and disciplined university and high school students.

Also, it is possible for students to succeed in an online environment without learning how to interact with others. As a result, it is imperative that online students have other avenues for developing social, leadership, and team skills.

Online education is not for everyone, but is an attractive alternative for motivated, self-disciplined students who have a strong social network and opportunities to build leadership skills and learn how to work on a team outside of school.

 

Time management critical for success

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“Learning to read, write, solve mathematics problems, apply scientific principles to real world situations, and speak a foreign language are not the only skills children need to acquire before they leave home.” ~Confucius

Many experts argue that time management abilities are equally important. Academically gifted people cannot survive in modern society if they are not able to deliver a high quality product, on time.

Most K-12 schools are struggling to teach time management skills, because parents are constantly pressuring them about grades. Many teachers are under so much pressure to issue high marks that they create extra opportunities for students to improve their final course grade.

Although “second chances” give the parents what they want, they have the unintended consequence of teaching kids that planning is irrelevant because there are always other opportunities to change the result.

When young people get to college and/or enter the workforce “second chances” are rare. Most college professors do not offer extra papers or problem sets at the end of the semester and employers take a dim view of late arrivals, shoddy work, and missed deadlines.

Since it has become impossible for most K-12 teachers to teach time management, parents must handle the task at home.

As a first step, kids need to learn how to plan ahead. There are many free computer-based scheduling applications that help in this area. Kids generally find it easy to enter homework day by day, but often need coaching on how to break future activities, like preparing for a test that is two weeks away, into daily tasks.

Then children need to learn how to make productive use of time. For example, it takes “forever” to finish math homework when kids chat online between problems. Learning to stay off social media during homework time can go a long way to improving efficiency.

Sleep is also important for time management. It takes less time to learn material and complete homework tasks when the brain is rested, so it is important to make sure your kids get enough sleep each night.

Multi-taking is not efficient. Teach your childred to finish one task before they begins another one.

Procrastination never pays. If something is due today, make sure it is finished. Otherwise, the next day will be overwhelming.

Prioritize homework first. This prevents late nights and productivity problems.

Learning to manage time is challenging. Start teaching your child early and reward progress often!

 

Secrets of the teenage brain: a psychologist’s guide for teachers

The Guardian – Bradley Busch

“Teenagers think differently to grownups – they are more likely to take risks, be sleepy, misread emotions, give in to peer-pressure and lack self-control. Thanks to advances in technology, we have been able to peer inside the teenage brain and see more clearly how it works. So what have we discovered? And how can we use this information to help young people navigate the challenges of growing up and getting an education?”(more)

Report: Non-Academic Skills Are Key Ingredient To Student Success

Learning Lab – Peter Balonon-Rosen

“Research and case studies that measure “soft skills” like self-control, openness to learning and teamwork show that mastery over these abilities can result in significant impacts in students’ lives…A long-term study of roughly 1,000 children born in 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, found that levels of self-control strongly predict outcomes later in life, like high school graduation, adult earnings and absence from criminal activity…The report also finds that students’ mindsets about their intelligence can predict academic achievement. Research shows that students who have a “growth mindset” — meaning they believe intelligence can increase through practice and effort — do better than students who think their intelligence is fixed at a certain level.”(more)

Recent ‘Marshmallow Test’ shows impulse control, other traits are not fixed

The Washington Post – Michael Alison Chandler

“Four decades ago, the famous “Marshmallow Experiment” at Stanford University spawned a body of research that showed how an early test of children’s ability to delay gratification — eat one marshmallow now, or wait 15 minutes and get two — correlated with greater success and self control later in life. But a more recent study suggests the impulse to eat the marshmallow is not necessarily innate…The test showed how influential reliable, trusting relationships are to helping children develop skills and adapting behavior.”(more)