Great Read From WashPo: 5 Ways To Raise Your Kids To Be Nice

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind

By Amy Joyce July 18, 2014 

This story was published in The Washington Post On Parenting section. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about teaching empathy, and whether you are a parent who does so. The idea behind it is from Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs the Making Caring Common project, aimed to help teach kids to be kind.

I know, you’d think they are or that parents are teaching that themselves, right? Not so, according to a new study released by the group. (Chat with Weissbourd here.)

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Weissbourd and his cohorts have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.

“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.

The five strategies to raise moral, caring children, according to Making Caring Common:

Click here to read the full story on The Washington Post.

Recommended Read: How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off (NY Times)

Thank you to mom, Raena Franklin for sending in this suggested read! Have any articles, thoughts you would like to share with our parent community? Write to us at info@nycpreschool.org.


Republished from The NY Times. Read the article at the Times here
JANUARY 30, 2016
Adam Grant, Contributing Op-Ed Writer

 

 

THEY learn to read at age 2, play Bach at 4, breeze through calculus at 6, and speak foreign languages fluently by 8. Their classmates shudder with envy; their parents rejoice at winning the lottery. But to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, their careers tend to end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Consider the nation’s most prestigious award for scientifically gifted high school students, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, called the Super Bowl of scienceby one American president. From its inception in 1942 until 1994, the searchrecognized more than 2000 precocious teenagers as finalists. But just 1 percentended up making the National Academy of Sciences, and just eight have won Nobel Prizes. For every Lisa Randall who revolutionizes theoretical physics, there are many dozens who fall far short of their potential.

Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn’t suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted — as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee.

What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.

The gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies, but rarely compose their own original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights. They conform to codified rules, rather than inventing their own. Research suggests that the most creative children are the least likely to become the teacher’s pet, and in response, many learn to keep their original ideas to themselves. In the language of the critic William Deresiewicz, they become the excellent sheep.

In adulthood, many prodigies become experts in their fields and leaders in their organizations. Yet “only a fraction of gifted children eventually become revolutionary adult creators,” laments the psychologist Ellen Winner. “Those who do must make a painful transition” to an adult who “ultimately remakes a domain.”

Most prodigies never make that leap. They apply their extraordinary abilities by shining in their jobs without making waves. They become doctors who heal their patients without fighting to fix the broken medical system or lawyers who defend clients on unfair charges but do not try to transform the laws themselves.

So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most creative 5 percent in their school system with those who were not unusually creative. The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule.

Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart. By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves. They tended to “place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules,” the Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile reports.

Even then, though, parents didn’t shove their values down their children’s throats. When psychologists compared America’s most creative architects with a group of highly skilled but unoriginal peers, there was something unique about the parents of the creative architects: “Emphasis was placed on the development of one’s own ethical code.”

Yes, parents encouraged their children to pursue excellence and success — but they also encouraged them to find “joy in work.” Their children had freedom to sort out their own values and discover their own interests. And that set them up to flourish as creative adults.

When the psychologist Benjamin Bloom led a study of the early roots of world-class musicians, artists, athletes and scientists, he learned that their parents didn’t dream of raising superstar kids. They weren’t drill sergeants or slave drivers. They responded to the intrinsic motivation of their children. When their children showed interest and enthusiasm in a skill, the parents supported them.

Top concert pianists didn’t have elite teachers from the time they could walk; their first lessons came from instructors who happened to live nearby and made learning fun. Mozart showed interest in music before taking lessons, not the other way around. Mary Lou Williams learned to play the piano on her own; Itzhak Perlman began teaching himself the violin after being rejected from music school.

Even the best athletes didn’t start out any better than their peers. When Dr. Bloom’s team interviewed tennis players who were ranked in the top 10 in the world, they were not, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, doing push-ups since they were a fetus. Few of them faced intense pressure to perfect the game as Andre Agassi did. A majority of the tennis stars remembered one thing about their first coaches: They made tennis enjoyable.

SINCE Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000-hour rule” suggesting that success depends on the time we spend in deliberate practice, debate has ragedabout how the hours necessary to become an expert vary by field and person. In arguing about that, we’ve overlooked two questions that matter just as much.

First, can’t practice itself blind us to ways to improve our area of study? Research reveals that the more we practice, the more we become entrenched — trapped in familiar ways of thinking. Expert bridge players struggled more than novices to adapt when the rules were changed; expert accountants were worse than novices at applying a new tax law.

Second, what motivates people to practice a skill for thousands of hours? The most reliable answer is passion — discovered through natural curiosity or nurtured through early enjoyable experiences with an activity or many activities.

Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things. Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music.

No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It’s a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight. “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition,” Albert Einstein reflected. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons starting at age 5, but he wasn’t intrigued. His love of music only blossomed as a teenager, after he stopped taking lessons and stumbled upon Mozart’s sonatas. “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty,” he said.

Hear that, Tiger Moms and Lombardi Dads? You can’t program a child to become creative. Try to engineer a certain kind of success, and the best you’ll get is an ambitious robot. If you want your children to bring original ideas into the world, you need to let them pursue their passions, not yours.

Adam Grant is a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a contributing opinion writer. This essay is adapted from his new book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

Image: BRIAN CHIPPENDALE / NY Times (not property of POTA. View article at NY Times here

* This is another post in the POTA Recommended Read Series. We'd love to hear your comments, feel free to add your thoughts, questions or musings in the comments section below. Do you have an article you think would be of interest to our parents? Share it with us at info@nycpreschool.org

Recommended Read: The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids (The Atlantic)

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids

Today’s young children are working more, but they’re learning less.

By Erika Christakis - Jan/Feb 2016 Issue

Step into an American preschool classroom today and you are likely to be bombarded with what we educators call a print-rich environment, every surface festooned with alphabet charts, bar graphs, word walls, instructional posters, classroom rules, calendars, schedules, and motivational platitudes—few of which a 4-year-old can “decode,” the contemporary word for what used to be known as reading.

Because so few adults can remember the pertinent details of their own preschool or kindergarten years, it can be hard to appreciate just how much the early-education landscape has been transformed over the past two decades. The changes are not restricted to the confusing pastiche on classroom walls. Pedagogy and curricula have changed too, most recently in response to the Common Core State Standards Initiative’s kindergarten guidelines. Much greater portions of the day are now spent on what’s called “seat work” (a term that probably doesn’t need any exposition) and a form of tightly scripted teaching known as direct instruction, formerly used mainly in the older grades, in which a teacher carefully controls the content and pacing of what a child is supposed to learn.

Read the full article at The Atlantic here.

* This is another post in the POTA Recommended Read Series. We'd love to hear your comments, feel free to add your thoughts, questions or musings in the comments section below. Do you have an article you think would be of interest to our parents? Share it with us at info@nycpreschool.org 

Recommended Read: Long Before Learning ABCs, Tots Recognize Words Are Symbols (AP)

A new study was published this week that highlights children's ability to recognize the written word as a symbol of language from a younger age than thought until now.
This story was originally published in the Associated Press. View the original article here


BY LAURAN NEERGAARD
AP MEDICAL WRITER
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Celebrate your child's scribbles. A novel experiment shows that even before learning their ABCs, youngsters start to recognize that a written word symbolizes language in a way a drawing doesn't - a developmental step on the path to reading.

Researchers used a puppet, line drawings and simple vocabulary to find that children as young as 3 are beginning to grasp that nuanced concept.

"Children at this very early age really know a lot more than we had previously thought," said developmental psychologist Rebecca Treiman of Washington University in St. Louis, who co-authored the study.

The research published Wednesday in the journal Child Development suggests an additional way to consider reading readiness, beyond the emphasis on phonetics or being able to point out an "A'' in the alphabet chart.

READ the full article at the AP.

* This is another post in the POTA Recommended Read Series. We'd love to hear your comments, feel free to add your thoughts, questions or musings in the comments section below. Do you have an article you think would be of interest to our parents? Share it with us at info@nycpreschool.org

POTA Recommended Read: Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work (NY Times)

Republished from the NY Times.

Republished from the NY Times.

OCT. 16, 2015
Claire Cain Miller
Republished from The New York Times. View the story at the NY Times website here.

For all the jobs that machines can now do — whether performing surgery, driving cars or serving food — they still lack one distinctly human trait. They have no social skills.

Yet skills like cooperation, empathy and flexibility have become increasingly vital in modern­day work. Occupations that require strong social skills have grown much more than others since 1980, according to new research. And the only occupations that have shown consistent wage growth since 2000 require both cognitive and social skills.

The findings help explain a mystery that has been puzzling economists: the slowdown in the growth even of high­skill jobs. The jobs hit hardest seem to be those that don’t require social skills, throughout the wage spectrum.

“As I’m speaking with you, I need to think about what’s going on in your head — ‘Is she bored? Am I giving her too much information?’ — and I have to adjust my behavior all the time,” said David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University and author of a new study. “That’s a really hard thing to program, so it’s growing as a share of jobs.”

Some economists and technologists see this trend as cause for optimism: Even as technology eliminates some jobs, it generally creates others. Yet to prepare students for the change in the way we work, the skills that schools teach may need to change. Social skills are rarely emphasized in traditional education.

“Machines are automating a whole bunch of these things, so having the softer skills, knowing the human touch and how to complement technology, is critical, and our education system is not set up for that,” said Michael Horn, co­founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, where he studies education.

Preschool classrooms, Mr. Deming said, look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others. But that soon ends, replaced by lecture­style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction.

Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.

Jobs that require both socializing and thinking, especially mathematically, have fared best in employment and pay, Mr. Deming found. They include those held by doctors and engineers. The jobs that require social skills but not math skills have also grown; lawyers and child­care workers are an example. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor.

Despite the emphasis on teaching computer science, learning math and science is not enough. Jobs that involve those skills but not social skills, like those held by bookkeepers, bank tellers and certain types of engineers, have performed worst in employment growth in recent years for all but the highest­paying jobs. In the tech industry, for instance, it’s the jobs that combine technical and interpersonal skills that are booming, like being a computer scientist working on a group project.

“If it’s just technical skill, there’s a reasonable chance it can be automated, and if it’s just being empathetic or flexible, there’s an infinite supply of people, so a job won’t be well paid,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s the interaction of both that is virtuous.”

Mr. Deming’s conclusions are supported by previous research, including that of Mr. Autor. Mr. Autor has written that traditional middle­skill jobs, like clerical or factory work, have been hollowed out by technology. The new middle­skill jobs combine technical and interpersonal expertise, like physical therapy or general contracting.

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize­winning economist, did groundbreaking work concluding that noncognitive skills like character, dependability and perseverance are as important as cognitive achievement. They can be taught, he said, yet American schools don’t necessarily do so.

These conclusions have been put into practice outside academia. Google researchers, for example, studied the company’s employees to determine what made the best manager. They assumed it would be technical expertise. Instead, it was people who made time for one­on­one meetings, helped employees work through problems and took an interest in their lives.

Mr. Deming’s study quantifies these types of skills. Using data about the tasks and abilities that occupations require from a Department of Labor survey called O*NET, he measured the economic return of social skills, after controlling for factors like cognitive skill, years of education and occupation.

The extent to which jobs required social skills grew 24 percent between 1980 and 2012, he found, while jobs requiring repetitive tasks, like garbage collecting, and analytical tasks that don’t necessarily involve teamwork, like engineering, declined. Mr. Deming explains it in terms of the economic notion of comparative advantage.

Say two workers are publishing a research paper. If one excels at data analysis and the other at writing, they would be more productive and create a better product if they collaborated. But if they lack interpersonal skills, the cost of working together might be too high to make the partnership productive.

Women seem to have taken particular advantage of the demand for social skills. The decline in routine jobs has hit women harder than men. Yet women have more successfully transitioned into collaborative jobs like managers, doctors and professors.

That might be because, starting in infancy, females traditionally excel at things like social perceptiveness, emotional intelligence and working with others, Mr. Deming and other researchers say.

These conclusions do not mean traditional education has become unnecessary, researchers say — in fact, traditional school subjects are probably more necessary than ever to compete in the labor market. But some schools are experimenting with how to add social skills to the curriculum.

At many business and medical schools, students are assigned to small groups to complete their work. So­called flipped classrooms assign video lectures before class and reserve class for discussion or group work. The idea is that traditional lectures involve too little interaction and can be done just as well online.

The Minerva Schools in San Francisco, a start­up college, takes that approach. The idea is to transmit facts outside of class, said its dean, Stephen Kosslyn, and use class to teach effective communication and interaction. “It involves creativity, judgment, all that stuff that is hard for a machine to be programmed to do,” he said.

Another way to teach these skills is through group activities like sports, band or drama, said Deborah Slaner Larkin, chief executive of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Students learn important workplace skills, she said: trusting one another, bringing out one another’s strengths and being coachable.

Someday, nearly all work could be automated, leaving humans to revel in never­ending leisure time. But in the meantime, this research argues, students should be prepared for the actual world of work. Maybe high schools and colleges should evaluate students the way preschools do — whether they “play well with others.”