Thursday, February 10, 2011

Talented Teenagers

From a review of a 1995 book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

"The authors conclude that learning to invest, and wanting to invest, in challenging tasks is indispensable to skill development. It is also important to have a social environment wherein students enjoy emotional and material support from their families while taking more responsibility for their own learning, especially in the area of their talent, and finding enjoyment in doing so. None of these elements, however, was much in evidence in the teenagers' schools; instead, the schools appeared more interested in "covering cognitive ground" than engaging the interest of talented students.

Parents, teachers, psychologists and counselors will find concrete information about conditions that cultivate talent in both "gifted" and "regular" adolescents."

We need to make better schools. Not schools driven by high stakes testing. That simply amplifies the orientation to "cover cognitive ground".

What kind of schools do we need? Schools that understand how to cultivate talent in both "gifted" and "regular" adolescents.

This is why we have accepted the challenge to expand our program into the high school level -- not just another conventional high school -- a Montessori high school, a Post Oak high school.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Be the best possible version of yourself

A note from Post Oak parent Rakesh Agrawal.


A blog reading...
from the guy who created gmail at google and then started another company which he sold to Facebook. A good response, I think, to Amy Chua's Tiger Mother book that's been getting a lot of attention (I read it a few weeks back and have enjoyed using it as a springboard for discussing parenting with Shonali and friends).


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Social Animal

I found the beginning of this article by David Brooks annoying, but the last ¾ was much more interesting. Implications for schooling are interesting to contemplate. Certainly the active, engaging, collaborative social environment of the Montessori classroom (as opposed to the teacher-directed seat-work environment of traditional schools) is a richer laboratory for the development of social skills.

Actually,that article amplifies the theme of Brooks' unique criticism of Tiger Mom Amy Chua -- see if this whets your appetite: "Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls."

"the stolen incandescence of a thousand young minds"

From Theodore Gray's web site, Periodic Table.

At the end of one of those books, Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks describes the process of growing out of his youthful enthusiasm for chemistry as a painful feeling of loss. I know exactly what he's talking about.

And I also know that there are a lot of kids who never feel this sense of loss, because by the time they are teenagers, they have nothing left to lose. Whatever enthusiasm, creativity, and focus they started with has long since been driven out of them, destroyed by television, video games, horrible schools, horrible opportunities, and horrible role models. The bright flicker of our television screens is the stolen incandescence of a thousand young minds.

One of the first things to go is a sense of mastery. Television, even the supposedly good stuff, is full cues that this is something other people can do, not you. Beyond the ubiquitous "Don't try this at home kids!" there are the slick production values and the fancy props to hammer home the lesson that nothing you could possibly do at home is as interesting or as valid as what you see on TV.