Hurry Sickness

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We are hurrying, running and paying enormous amounts of money to keep connected 24 hours a day. All these new time saving devices have created the world’s newest billionaires but we still have no more time. We run from place to place planning to catch up but we never do , we just buy a new electronic machine that will process 50 pages instantly or a multitude of  messages simultaneously. The concept of ‘Hurry Sickness’ is described by many people but the actual concept is written about by Dr. Anne McGee-Cooper. She suggests” modern times have brought certain maladies that might be though of as disease of technology: Radiation poisoning ( Marie Curie’s legacy); carpal tunnel syndrome ( descendant of scriveners’s palsy). A unique case is jet lag…. (Gleick) psuedo ADD ( Hallewell), a multitude of other stress related illnesses and of course ‘hurry sickness.’

In the last 25 years of the 20th century we have increased our pace to such a speed that any person hearing the concept ‘hurry sickness’ barely needs it explained. As adults we know that this is a malady that affects our every day lives but what about our children. We are told by researchers this actually is a kind of environmental hazard that can and is affecting our children, their brains and their ability to be creative,  to play independently, to cope with stress and ultimately how they learn and process information.

Recently I have noticed an increasing number of news reports, documentaries, investigative reports or magazine articles that address the state of our hurried lives. The  state of our children’s lives and actual brains are being dramatically influenced.  In regard to this frenzy of time poverty  and  there are in fact  universal concerns that are becoming more dramatically evident.“ “Chronic stress cannot only accelerate a host of illnesses but can also cause damage in parts of the brain that are associated with memory…..a direct instance of bodily ills affecting cognitive abilities.” (Conlan p5)

“What we are all beginning to conclude that the bad environments that more and more children are being exposed to are, indeed, creating an epidemic of violence,” Kruesi said(Dr. Markus J. Kruesei, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Illinois Medical school’s Institute for Juvenile Research) “Environmental events are really causing molecular changes in the brain… It is frightening to think that we may be doing some very dreadful things to our children” (Kotuluk p85)

Researchers are warning us about the pace we are moving and especially what it is doing to our children’s minds. In her books “Endangered Minds” and “Failure to Connect” Dr. Jane Healy was one of the first to bring this growing phenomenon to our attention ( over 20 years ago) . She asks “Could I explain to non-scientists that changing lifestyles could be altering our children’s brains in subtle and critical ways” (Healy p9 EM) and then goes on to explain “hurried from one activity to the next may get lots of sensory input but be short changed on the time consuming process of forming associations and networks to understand and organize meaningfully” (Healy p74-5 EM)  “ Glick in his book further explains … to be grid locked or tarmacked is to be stuck in place, our fastest engines idling all around, as time passes and blood pressures rise… We are in a rush. We are making haste. A compression of time characterizes the life of the century just closed and the new century we live in. Airport gates are minor intensifiers of the lose-not-a-minute anguish of our age… The DOOR CLOSE button in elevators, so often a placebo, with no function but to distract for a moment those riders to whom ten seconds seems an eternity. Speed-dial buttons on telephones: do you invest minutes in programming them and reap your reward in tenths of a second? Remote controls: their very existence, in the hands of a quick reflexed, multitasking, channel-flipping, fast-forwarding citizenry, has caused an acceleration in the pace of films and television commercials”(Glick pg. 103) We move our children from one activity to another, eating in the car, changing their clothes in the car and resting in the car as they join brothers or sisters who are going to different activites ( ie baseball, ballet , karate and science fair on the same evening)

We live in a society that continually bombards our senses. “Surprisingly, almost anything can cause physical changes in the brain:sounds, sights, smells, touch-like little carpenters- all can quickly change the architecture of brain, and sometimes they can turn into vandals… ‘The new thing is that the brain is very dynamic,’ said Dr. Robert Post, chief of the national Institute of Mental Health’s biological psychiatry branch. ‘At any point in this process you have all these potentials for either good or bad stimulation to get in there and set the micro structure of the brain…’ Post and his colleagues were startled to find that outside stimulation can permanently alter the function of brain cell genes. Stress and drugs…for instance, can produce biochemical changes that directly affect the function of some key brain-cell genes, in effect laying down permanent, maladaptive behavior patterns…Faced with the new evidence about how the brain develops and functions, many scientists are concluding that society is wasting a tremendous amount of the brain power of its young, and creating a lot of unnecessary problems-including crime,aggression, and depression-later on in their lives” (Kotuluk intro ix)

“The brain is not static. It is dynamic and it constantly shapes and reshapes. We create connections as we grow. Our brain is moulded by the world around us. Experiences constantly shape our brain. Suzuki points out that the brain is so vulnerable to external influences like stress, anger, hatred, or prejudice that we might wish we had more ways to buffer it. Life’s beauty and life’s tragedies profoundly alter our brain. It is both an exciting and grave picture to ponder, however,scientists are now giving us hard data to prove the saying, violence begets violence.”(David Suzuki The Brain)

In school as well as at home the concept of TIME !!!!! needs to be addressed.  We need to slow down and give our children time!!!!!

As we move children along from place to place or in school we move students from one task to another so quickly they do not have time to let information connect or synthesize.

One of the recurring concerns expressed by students who have had some difficulty in learning in the problem of time BUT  I have found over many, many years that if time is left up to any student ( honor student or student with learning concerns) that their learning dramatically improves and many  so called learning problems are actually intensified or even  just  the result of a lack of time. There is never enough time to complete assignments and often students become overwhelmed by the lack of time in their classes and they eventually just give up. They find themselves getting further and further behind and eventually they just stop. They need an environment where they can just stop, catch up and take the time they need to overcome or master a certain learning task. When students control the time they need to spend on a project we found they remained connected and engaged in the project they would normally have great difficulty working on. They retained a sense of accomplishment and could be proud of the project they produced. With the adjustment of the time factor alone, many students were transformed into very competent learners almost immediately. The pressure, time constraints cause, was reduced or eliminated and they could concentrate on their involvement or interest in the subject matter rather than meet some  artificial barrier of completion. Students could complete an entire project rather than presenting substandard or rushed material.

The other benefit of this flexible use of time was that students could complete courses early or could spread a class out into the next year without fear of having to repeat the entire course. This is a tremendous bonus for older students. It helps maintain a sense of hope and encourages a forward looking spirit. In the past I have found with only the adjustment or elimination of time constraints for students they were afforded the opportunity to become active participants in their own learning and this lead them to the next essential component which was self pacing and more self-directed learning thus reaching that elusive goal of independent learner ( which all teachers and parents hope for)

Researchers tell us:

“Remember that students are not expected to master complex challenges like reading or writing in a few lessons. The same holds for the many sides of reflective intelligence ( ie how to study, learn concepts, use memory  skills accurately etc. etc. etc), whether they are taught in separate courses or through infusions into the handling of the regular subject matters. Currently, it is rare that a student experiences more than one such intervention for a few weeks. There is little chance to gauge cumulative impact.” (Perkins p210)

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“Time is a vital aspect of the control that exists in schools. There are bells, timed tests, and due dates- unspoken guidelines about what is an acceptable amount to time to spend on a given task. Perhaps more than anything else, the precision and arbitrariness of time represents the imposing forces of school regulations”
(Cherkes-Julkowski, Sharp, Stolzenberg,1997,140)

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“Provide ‘settling time’…The best type of reflection time is not seatwork or homework, but rather a walk, stretching, rote classroom chores (i.e., clearing the bulletin board or hanging art), doodling, or merely resting. Breaks, recess, lunch and going home can also be considered downtime. Ideally, ‘brain-breaks’ ought to be built into your lesson plans every twenty minutes or so. The more intense the new learning, the more reflection time is necessary.” (Jensen 2000 p124

THE DOODLING & COLORING BOOK CRAZE: WHAT IS HAPPENING ????

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What is happening in the current craze with doodling and coloring for adults????? Since last year it has been impossible to go into a bookstore, an art store or craft establishment without encountering adult coloring books, doodling books, zen tangle materials or mandala coloring materials. In the last 6 months without really searching I have encountered at least 300 different titles available in Canada, the US.  and Britain.When watching current TV programs I have noticed that several have included this trend in their programs.  One Chicago Fire Episode had a firefighter explaining to a colleague what he was doing as he was working on an adult coloring book. He was coloring while waiting for the next fire. In addition an episode of “The Chew” recently had the enthusiastic Carla explaining how to make a scrumptious dish in such a manner that you could have lots of time left to work on your “coloring books”

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We are seeing news programs responding to this trend offering speculation and expert opinions. Art therapists, psychologists and news anchors, in addition, news  and magazine stories are starting to ask questions or study the trend.  In Jan.6/2016 CBC NEWS / THE CALGARY EYEOPENER did a program suggesting that 6 months ago this trend did not exist and now it has taken North America by storm ( maybe farther afield). They suggested that this coloring/zen tangle trend was calming to the mind and  helped in dealing with stress. Several reports suggested  that this trend is a response to being frenzied and overwhelmed. One article suggested that as a response to our frenzied, hurried lives we are craving ways to slow down, take time to move,  think and interact with color while being in a calm almost meditative state. The ARTS WRITER for the Huffington Post wrote an article entitled “Why Coloring Could Be the New Alternative to Meditation” The Huffington Post Live did a piece entitled “The Cognitive Benefits of Coloring”  There is  even a University class in Wisconsin entitled ” The Benefits of Doodling.”

Each time I have gone into a bookstore, art store etc ( in both Canada ,the USA & London England)  in the last few months I have taken an informal survey and asked the proprietor or person who does the ordering who is buying all these coloring books.  The answers are as varied as the hundreds of coloring books available.  There are teens, and business men & women, grandmothers, book club enthusiasts, families wanting to sit around the table to just chat and color. In London several books store owners suggested the same variety but also mentioned many people who travel long distances on to tube or by train are using the time to color, do something creative and while away the hours on the train in a creative way. Coloring events in trendy bars with doodle walls and social events organized around a coloring activity are popping up in bars, bookstores and coffee houses. The list goes on and on and on. The swiftness of this phenomenon is amazing. It appears to have no age limits or socioeconomic boundaries.  When mentioning this trend at a small bookstore in Canada a young woman piped up and shared that she worked at the jail and remand center in the city and the staff  were using the coloring books as a calming influence for inmates.

Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford’s books have sold over 1 million copies to date.  She suggests her books ‘make people unplug’ giving them a chance to unwind suggesting the side effect is stress relief. The philosophy encourages time together helping a busy life slow down.  The trend is almost meditative allowing individuals to lose themselves, unplugging from the internet, their phones or other technology. The activity calms a busy brain overloaded and inundated 24/7 by the information highway. Families are unplugging, coloring and chatting while doing it.

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Obviously there is a market for these books as stores do not invest revenue in trends that are not lucrative( as we all realize when we look for sections at our bookstore which have disappeared due to lack of interest from large numbers of patrons). We need to look a little more closely at the brain researchers and see what need this craze is offering to our minds. When we see how much time individuals are spending on their computers, smart phones, tablets and other devices we may have the clues we need. We are connected 24/7 and it seems that the coloring trend slows us down, disconnects us, allows us to sit around the table and actually unplug and talk.

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Whether  you are 8 or 80 the doodling or coloring craze is meeting the needs of our frenzied, hurried lifestyle. It is quicker than creating your own patterns while still allowing freedom to create with colors. No matter what age or stage we are at , it might be beneficial to see what all the excitement is about. As my Mom  aged  and confusion began to erode the activities she was able to continue doing many old familiar pastimes and  other creative projects she used to do became too complicated but coloring allowed her to continue to choose colors and create a unique product. It continued to support her need to do something creative and allowed her to work for hours and hours on a task that was still able to stimulate and interest her.I worked in schools for 30 years and had many friends who were elementary school teachers so I used to ask my Mom to color some samples for my friend’s students so she would not be embarassed by thinking that the coloring was childlike. My Dad said she would color for hours!!!! and my friends were supportive of the project.

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SEE ALSO:  Hurry Sickness, The World We Live In & Endangered Minds

The Perfect Study Technique: Mapping the Mind

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MAPPING the MIND: The Perfect Study Technique

This is an exciting time to be a learner and an educator. Medical and scientific researchers have joined forces with education to give us a much more comprehensive understanding of the mind and how best to help our young people reach their full potential as learners. Medical/scientific researchers are telling us that the brain is capable of taking in much more information than we currently ask of it.

One of the ways we can begin to tap those unused areas of our potential is to apply the visual, symbolic technique of mind maps to our everyday teaching environment. Mind mapping is one technique that encourages the utilization of the brains full potential. It is a whole brain activity that results in the graphic representation of the intellectual territory covered. It is a process and thus is not content driven, allowing it to be applied to any content area, at any grade level. A map is extremely versatile and can be adapted to any length and type of material. Students can map vocabulary words, a novel or an entire course. Instead of just words on the page the mapper must also interact with symbols, color and shape to represent meaning. The material being mapped and the individual mind dictate the finished product. Because a mind map represents the interaction between the individual and the course content the learning becomes personally relevant as the student begins to reorganize and apply their own symbolic cues to the material. Maps are comprehensive, creative, fun and imaginative.

Mapping is not only creative and fun but it maximizes student participation as one cannot map without being actively involved in the process of divergent thinking. It helps to link ideas and draw relationships between sometimes seemingly unrelated pieces of information. This encourages depth of understanding and critical thinking.

Often students become so involved with the facts and details of the material they are unable to see the whole picture. For older students a map could be used to synthesize a multitude of material into one very concise study. They could incorporate their notes, textbook material, lectures, handouts, and video or documentary material, into one map, thus making the connections between material much easier to detect. When students see the subject on one big map, connections between systems become much more easily identified and the depth necessary to apply terms suddenly appears.

Maps are not used as extensively as they could be with older students. I recall a mother of one of my students arriving for our parent conference with a tactful concern about the time her daughter was spending in her room using color and visual to represent her Grade 12 math notes. The mom, was a bit concerned that her daughter was spending so much time on the ‘art’ that she might be missing the math. I assured her that her daughter, a very diligent student, would be just fine and that I was checking to make certain the content was covered. The mom trusted and the student sailed through her final exam in a class she had always had difficulty with. Researchers have noticed“…it is apparent that visual-spatial modes of thought need far more attention in the educational process, especially at a higher level. While visual approaches have received greater attention at lower grade levels for some time, higher education is slow to change and still relies heavily on traditional academic methods-books and lectures.” ( West p10) Often we do not encourage our students to use all their gifts to learn curricular material.

Maps can be used with students at any age. There were very few students who did not experience immediate benefits from learning to use the mind mapping process. Students of all ages love the creative and visual aspects of mapping but they also come to realize very quickly how much work and thought must go into the process. They realize the amount of material they have mastered (or need to master) when they have a visual representation of it.

The benefits of mapping to the student, I think are obvious, however, one very important benefit to the teacher or parent is often overlooked. Maps are an invaluable assessment tool as they often point out, instantaneously, where the process of understanding breaks down. You have a visual representation of the students understanding of the topic and can often trace back to where understanding becomes muddled or confused. This form of assessment is quick and very accurate. It tells you immediately what you have to revisit or where students have moved to greater depth of understanding.

There are innumerable ways to create a mind map and a number of theorists to aid your search for the perfect mind mapping method. Tony Buzan pioneered the concept of mind mapping many years ago and his books are still absolutely current and a must if you wish to read on. The other person who has just recently created a ‘how to’ manual for mapping is Nancy Margulies. Her book is excellent and is perfect for any age but I have found elementary school educators particularly taken with her book. Margulies also produces a comic book probably most applicable to junior high students but staff also find it informative. (see resource section) There are several differences between Buzan and Margulies but both advocate using a whole brain approach to mapping. Buzan sets a structured format, that he suggests be followed in every map and Margulies suggests much more freedom when choosing the structure of the map.

Mind Mapping Tony Buzan                 Mind Scape Nancy Margulies

*central concept                                            *free form
*main ideas                                                    *anything goes
*add details                                                             words, phrases
symbols
*center of page                                              *start anywhere
*one word per line central theme
*branch out grouping or categories
add more details

I have always found a combination of both styles to be preferable. Let the mind of the mapper and the material dictate what form the map should take. The following elements should be included, in any form, depending on the creativity and background of the individual mapper ( see above map for a visual representation of the article) .

To create a map:
* Have a central theme.
* Use a balance of symbols and words‘whole brain approach’
* Color should be used to give a message,to illustrate relationship or indicate a pattern or section.
* The original material must be regrouped
* Personal symbols help connect to prior knowledge.

When working with older students show them sample maps and let them develop their own distinct style but with younger students it is helpful to do some practice with words to symbols and grouping techniques first. Guide all students through a group map first, model your own style and share several of your own maps. Be certain to stress that your style is neither right nor wrong but is just an expression of your personal interaction with the material. Explain what your symbols and colors represent. Show a number of maps on one topic. This will demonstrate to students that maps are distinctively unique and very personal.  The following maps were done by staff or students for various different subjects or workshops…….A map represents the mappers relationship to the material………

 

Are We Endangering Our Children’s Minds?????

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Theorists Have Asked: Are We Endangering Our Children’s Minds?????

For decades theorists have been warning us about how we are endangering our children’s minds.  Offered here is no opinion but rather through the words of the theorists we can make our own decisions based on our circumstances and personal situations.

Jane Healy in Endangered Minds began to sound an alarm to educators several decades ago. Long enough for several generations of school children to graduate. At the time Healy wrote Endangered Minds it seemed her greatest dilemma was “Could I explain to non-scientists that changing lifestyles could be altering our children’s brains in subtle and critical ways” Now with technological advances and imaging systems scientists can show us her greatest fears coming true. Scientists now explain that children’s experiences do in fact alter significantly the brain because much of the brain’s structure does depend directly on the way it is used. Every different experience of learning alters the physical structure of the brain. A small but very real example in today’s society suggests that children “hurried from one activity to the next may get lots of sensory input but will be short changed on the time consuming process of forming associations and networks to understand and organize meaningfully” (Healy ) When we consider the issue of changing brains we must acknowledge that students may display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, an inability to regulate emotional life and a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed for efficient learning.

Marion Diamond in Magic Trees of the Mind suggests..”We are dramatically under realizing the true potential of human beings, so that if you took random selections of one hundred humans at conception and looked at their potential in areas of anxiety regulation, emotional connectivity, and cognition these would be far greater, far higher than the average you see when they grow up. Even in the best settings, in many healthy families in very healthy communities, there are a whole host of unrealized experiences that leave portions of our population underdeveloped in every domain of brain function…Since experience impacts the organization of the brain, we can literally evolve or devolve, depending on how we value and treat the learning and stimulation of children”

To acknowledge individual differences is not a luxury it is a necessity. We cannot continue to lose large numbers of students by either having them drop out of school or dulling their minds to the point of utter frustration. “Boredom is more than annoying..it may be thinning our brains” (Jensen) It is not that these students are intellectually incapable but rather that their natural styles of learning are in direct opposition to the structure of the existing organization of schools. We as educators, cannot afford to ignore the potential we are wasting in many of our young people. Although as educators we acknowledge the concept of individual learning differences in theory, we often deny it in practice.

NOT ONLY FOR PARENTS BUT ALSO FOR SCHOOLS

As many theorists have expressed, (Darling-Hammond, Healy, Kohn, Greenspan,Perkins & Jensen) personalized learning is not just an interesting, unique concept to be considered but rather personalized learning is a necessity. My absolute favorite quotation in anything I have read recently is the following quotation from The Right to Learn. “When students are engaged in active learning around meaningful tasks, they are experiencing teaching that supports their cognitive development. However, many schools seem bent on ignoring development. As Tracy Kidder (1989) remarks: ‘The problem is fundamental. Put twenty or more children of roughly the same age in a little room, confine them to desks, make them wait in lines, make them behave. It is as if a secret committee, now lost to history, had made a study of children and, having figured out what the greatest number were least disposed to do, declared that all of them should do it…’ Developmentally attentive schools start from the presumption that the school should be user-friendly. (Darling-Hammond p118)

Darling- Hammond in studies of successful schools found the alternatives to be the most successful, vibrant, thought producing institutions. She suggests “The schools that showed the most extraordinary successes were those that differed most from mainstream practice: their teaching was most experiential and inquiry oriented and their governance systems the most democratic” (Darling-Hammond p10) We need to allow the extraordinary to become the norm.

SEE ALSO: Hurry Sickness, The World We Have Created & especially Alarms for Parents and Educators for more expert quotes

The World We Have Created

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The World We Live In: A Clue to the Misdiagnosis Epidemic

For all our advances in education, our increased knowledge and our superior educational assessment capabilities something is still going very wrong. Healy explains “Our knowledge about how to teach has actually improved… I have been around university education departments since the fifties; during that time professional training has been considerably upgraded. Thoughtful research on how children learn has paved the way for dissemination of better classroom methods and instructional materials as well as a much clearer understanding of students who have trouble learning in traditional ways. It hardly seems reasonable to believe that the majority of teachers have suddenly become so much worse. In any school visit I find many good, dedicated professionals. They claim tried-and true methods aren’t working anymore. Why?”( Healy p17 )

As educators we read or hear in the media that schools need to reform or that schools are failing but often these judgments are made from a narrow view of the structure and concerns educators face. Most educators say they are not doing what they know is best because of curricular requirements, standardized testing pressure or everyday stresses that overwhelm our schools. Educators, well read and aware of the state of education are also very concerned about making our schools viable communities to engage the young people we are privileged to have in our care but for very different reasons than our critics understand. We don’t need to change because the political party of the day needs more votes or because some world marketing conglomerate needs to have access to our children for more sales or because one group or another needs a scapegoat; we don’t even need to change because our own colleagues suggest we must. We do, however, need to change!!!

We need to change because our student population has changed dramatically. Their actual minds have changed, their abilities and very considerable gifts have altered dramatically. “Environmental events are really causing molecular changes in the brain… It is frightening to think that we may be doing some very dreadful things to our children” (Kotuluk p85). Many brain based theorists, the constructivists, the sociologists, the neurobiologists, the neuropsychologists and a multitude of educational experts continue to warn us that the world we live in is actually biologically altering our children’s minds. They have been telling us for decades that children’s minds are changing as fast as the world they live in. “We are dramatically under realizing the true potential of human beings, so that if you took random selections of one hundred humans at conception and looked at their potential in areas of anxiety regulation, emotional connectivity, and cognition these would be far greater, far higher than the average you see when they grow up. Even in the best settings, in many healthy families in very healthy communities, there are a whole host of unrealized experiences that leave portions of our population underdeveloped in every domain of brain function…Since experience impacts the organization of the brain, we can literally evolve or devolve, depending on how we value and treat the learning and stimulation of children” (Diamond & Hopson p293,4)

“Our technology, economy, and society are transformed at ever greater rates, while our institutions hold ever more tightly to outmoded ideas, perhaps it is time for some really fresh thinking-especially from a quarter where it might have been least expected. The old measurement scales do not quite fit, as many have long known, in spite of what they were told. And many have suffered for no good reason as a consequence. (West preface) Educators and educational institutions have not kept pace with our changing student’s minds. When we consider the issue of changing brains we must acknowledge that not only will students display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, an inability to regulate emotional life and a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed for efficient learning.

What we can be sure of is that our students will need to be able to learn independently, think critically, cooperate effectively and solve problems creatively.

 

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Parents Can Help Students Prep for Exams

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PARENTS CAN HELP STUDENTS PREPARE FOR EXAMINATIONS

As students begin to prepare for final examinations parents can become an integral part of the preparation process. According to recent studies the best students are those whose parents see themselves as an important element in their student’s education. There is a high correlation between student achievement and parent involvement.( no matter how young or old your student might be)

Parents should encourage students to:

– adjust their work or social obligations to allow for extra study time.

– study by allowing them a reprieve from regular household duties.

– organize large amounts of material by outlining, charting or mapping.

– listen carefully for clues, given in class, regarding writing times, places requirements and study hints specific to examinations.

– summarize essential material on 3X5 index cards as a final review.

– ask questions in order to discover as much as possible about final examinations.
eg. Will examinations be multiple choice, short answer or essay format?

What aspects of the course are to be examined or stressed?

What do past exams look like? (This is particularly helpful for year end or pre-college exams courses.)

Often students need help in setting up and following a regular study schedule. The schedule is probably the most frustrating part of exam preparation. Once students actually find the time and begin a regular study program the actual studying is streamlined.

Provide a calendar, planning chart or mapping chart for students to keep track of:
– final assignments and test dates

– work and social commitments

– regular review times

– how busy your teenager really is

– when the study schedule must be adjusted

Several months before exam time:

– encourage students to take advantage of assistance offered through the
Guidance Department, the Resource Room and from their classroom
teachers.

– help students set up a study schedule. Last minute studying is never as
productive as a long term study plan.

– guide students to learn from classroom mistakes. Few students look at their
graded papers or old exams and use them effectively. Students should be
encouraged to use their papers as a guide to help themselves improve for
final examinations.

– the analysis of previous mistakes on assignments and exams can reveal
patterns and types of questions that need more attention.

– every unanswered or uncorrected question is a lost learning opportunity.

– encourage students to take revised exams or assignments to teachers for
advice or answers to puzzling questions.

Throughout Exam week:

– encourage students to arrive on time, prepared with appropriate materials
and identifications.

– strongly encourage students to use all the available time allowed them.

– try to be familiar with the students exam schedule. Just having someone
else aware of when and what exam they write offers support when they have
so much to think about.

– if PANIC sets in because of procrastination, remain calm. HELP students
prioritize work in order to concentrate on what can be realistically
accomplished in the time available.

A recent research study done with students suggests that those students whose parents talked to them positively before they went to school did better academically than those who hadn’t started the day with positive reinforcement.

During the actual examination students should be encouraged to:

– identify and highlight key words in each question as students are often misled
because they have over looked ONE word that changes the direction of a
question. (see above visual)

– make notes directly on the examinations as this will help students focus and
concentrate.

– draw diagrams or maps to help interpret the questions.

– reword longer questions in an attempt to clarify what is being asked.

– use extreme caution when reading and interpreting questions. Misreading
questions is a common problem. Students often have studied efficiently but
because of misinterpretation they end up giving information that does not
answer the question being asked.

– approach multiple choice questions as reasoning tasks as well as
examination questions. Students should try to eliminate unreasonable
distractors for difficult questions. They can then try to work back from the
answers to the questions.

An Important Reminder for All Final and Transition ( ie to High School, College etc)     Examinations

Students should be aware that they are not only allowed but strongly advised to mark, highlight and make notes on the testing booklets. If they are not allowed to write on school examinations ( to save photo copying budgets)  parents can be very, very helpful by advocacy for the permission to write on examinations and highlight and doodle on all materials provided in the examination.

Originally Published Bulletin of Psychological Type Vol.37.4 Jan 7/2015

 

Wired but Searching to Connect

Today I went to lunch with a friend. The restaurant hostess may never recover from the trauma of our technological blunder, as we did not have our cell phones to be paged when a table became free. She hardly knew how to respond. As we enjoyed our lunch there were four women beside us all texting and e-mailing intermingled with a few selfies which included photos of what they were clearly not eating. They did not interact with each other very much as they seemed mesmerized by their phones. On the other side of us was a young father reading his extensive number of e-mail messages, texting and he even managed two phone calls. His young son was pelting his little sister with rolled up pieces of pizza and kicking her under the table, unbeknownst to Dad, who was engaged with his phone. Ironically, it seems, the more we are connected the more disconnected we seem to become.

Connectedness

It is impossible to articulate all the positives that technology has given to us over the past 60+ years. We are able to carry all our music, photos, video of loved ones or messages from our friends in the palm of our hands. Technology via medical and scientific research has saved countless lives and made astounding discoveries. .“E-mail, for example, has revived the almost lost art of letter writing… On-line services and the Internet permit people to meet others who share their interests, regardless of location…” (Greenspan 176) We see dictators shutting down web access and global social media sites in an effort to control their populations and keep the eyes of the world from observing nefarious human rights violations, the moment they happen. Technology has given journalists the tools that allow us to instantaneously witness any joyful or tragic event from anywhere on the globe and beyond. This connectedness to any and all parts of the world is both comforting and yet addictive as we shop, interact, friend thousands all over the world, pay our bills while at the theater and try valiantly to keep up with constant technological upgrades.

Technology has hurled us into the 21st century but we are moving at a pace that is causing concern and stress related side effects, with no age barrier. Our homes are not always the refuge or resting places we expect them to be. Home is often more like a pit stop on the race- way called the information super highway. New and more efficient technology and ‘time saving devices’ have done little to aid with the rush and frenzy of our lives. We do not really need to read Gleick’s book to understand his concept of ‘hurry sickness’. We are always connected !!!

ALWAYS CONNECTED YET DISCONNECTED

Theorists have articulated one of the side effects of our 24 hour a day connectedness as being increased disconnectedness. “People increasingly lack face-to face interaction at their jobs. The opportunity for the emotional growth afforded by genuine human interchange is much reduced….. technology is increasingly being used in ways that reduce personal contacts in the interest of efficiency or cost cutting. Automatic teller machines replace familiar faces; ‘voice mail’…. Ordering goods by phone, fax, or e-mail cuts down on trips to the store and impromptu encounters that nurture relationships with neighbors. Faxes and e-mail are even substituted for chats with the person at the next desk. Entertainment delivered by television, electronic ‘home theaters,’ and personal computers means fewer ventures out into public places crowded with others. In thousands of small way, people’s opportunities to spend time interacting individually with those who know them well are evaporating…we will see that nations as well as individuals can coexist only in a world where people know each other well and understand one another’s particular needs, motives, and intentions. Lack of such understanding brings needless peril.” (Greenspan p 176)

Edward Hallewell expresses similar concerns. He states “There are two main reasons why our world is ‘ADD-ogenic.’ First is the electronic communications network that envelops all of us. … all these technical wonders have so connected us that we are constantly reachable. This means we are constantly expected to reach back….The second factor that contributes to creating pseudo-ADD in modern life is the reverse of the first. As hyperconnected as we are electronically, we are disconnected socially…..We therefore see two powerful factors, electronic connectedness on the one hand and social disconnectedness on the other, combining to create a modern landscape that induces the symptoms of ADD. While only 5 percent of the population has true ADD, I’d guess about 50 percent has pseudo- ADD.” (Hallowell WYWACYL p 102,103)

The significance for those who study type is profound. The use of a style instrument assists in opening lines of communication so much needed in today’s more connected but disconnected world.

MINDS ARE CHANGING

Not only in our jobs or recreational hours changed significantly but much more importantly the lives of our children have been dramatically altered by our new fast paced,multi-tasking, quick reflexed spectacularly vivid technological world. Many theorists have been warning us for decades that the world we live in is actually biologically altering our children’s minds. “The discovery that the outside world is indeed the brain’s real food is intriguing. The brain gobbles up its external environment in bits and chunks….. Then the digested world is reassembled in the form of trillions of connections between brain cells that are constantly growing or dying, or becoming stronger or weaker, depending on the richness of the banquet.” (Kotulak p 4)

Jane Healy also warned through her books ‘Endangered Minds” and “Failure to Connect” that children’s experiences do in fact alter the brain significantly because much of the brain’s structure does depend directly on the way it is used. Healy has been saying for decades that we must consider the issue of changing brains acknowledging that not only will students display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed for efficient learning but also an inability to regulate emotional life.

The media provides such intense emotional experiences they must go unmatched in real life.
“One of this century’s best-kept secrets is the way in which technology has transformed
violence into a spectacle of stunning beauty. Violence, when it’s stylized, when it’s choreographed and hyper accelerated or played in slow motion, when it is set to the strains of a poignant Beethoven sonata, the minimalist pulses of a Philip Glass creation, or the tremulous strains and corrosive screams of a Diamanda Galas vocal, can be thrillingly sublime and breathtakingly beautiful. Since the advent of cinema and television we’ve been blessed with endless variation: several heads floating through the air in all the splendor only freeze-frame decapitation can convey; severed arms gliding down elevator shafts while still pulsing huge arcs of blood.” (Steinberg & Kincheloe pg. 115)

To keep individuals connected to real life, real emotion and satisfying relationships becomes a necessary task that may also need to be orchestrated as these may no longer be automatic in our connected world. For those of us who are of an age when ‘play dates’ or ‘online dating’ did not exist the more formal orchestration of relationships seems unnecessary but it appears to be a necessity for those changing minds of our most technologically adept generations.

Our increased disconnectedness comes at a time when theorists have finally decided that it is emotion that is one of the key factors in our ability to think critically, to learn effectively to remember accurately and to handle the every day stresses of our lives. At a time when we read of the importance of emotional issues, emotional IQ and emotional well being it is strange that the very nature of our lives makes it increasingly more difficult to keep and maintain healthy emotional balance.

The application of type theory can be effectively applied where collegiality needs to be encouraged, where relationships must be the main focus or where conflicting philosophies exist. As generation after generation of minds change it becomes essential to focus on communication issues as well as all our new spectacular technological advances.

References

Davis, John (1996) Educating Students in a Media Saturated Culture Technomic Publishing Co. Inc.
Gleick, James (1999) Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc, New York / Toronto.
Greenspan, Stanley (1997) The Growth of the Mind:The Endangered Origin of Intelligence. Perseus Books, Reading, Massachusets.
Hallowell, Edward D. & Ratey, John J. (1994 ) Driven to Distraction New York: Pantheon
Healy, Jane M. (1990) Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think. Simon and Schuster, New York
Kotulak, Ronald (1997) Inside The Brain: Revolutionary Discoveries of How the Mind Works Andrews McMeel Publishing. Kansas City.
Steinberg, Shirley & Kincheloe, Joe Editor (1998) Kinderculture:The Corporate Construction of Childhood Westview Press, Perseus Books L.L.C. Boulder, Colorado.

 

Parents Can Help

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Help Us Help Your Children

Research today suggests that parents can help improve their children’s success in school. Many research studies carried out with parents of students who excel in school suggest that these parents are very involved in their children’s learning. The parents of exceptional students “encourage, equip, model behaviors, monitor, stimulate and coach” in order to help their children reach the goal of academic success.”

Reading

The home environment has an effect on a student’s aptitude and motivation for reading. When students see their parents enjoying reading they seem more inclined to read themselves. Students who have their own books and time to enjoy them are often better readers.

* use TV /movies to encourage reading
* let your child see you answering your own questions through reading
* tie your child’s interests to reading ( Any hobby, sport or vacation can encourage the reading habit)
* have a wide range of reading materials available at home
* read the same book and discuss it
* go to bookstores together and pick out books for each other
* remind children that reading everything quickly or everything slowly is the sign of a poor reader
* let your children know that you think books are valuable

Writing

Writing is often one of the most difficult and frustrating skills young people must master. Not only is writing a difficult process to master but is seems that our lifestyle often discourages writing, thus making it seem as if writing standards are decreasing. Writing is a skill that must constantly be practised.

* be an active audience for your child’s writing assignments
* read every piece of writing your child will share with you
* photocopy what your child has written and send it to an interested relative or friend
* children should be encouraged to keep a collection of best works
* encourage older students to help younger students write
* have children write messages on family greeting cards
* write a holiday journal
* encourage all types of journal writing
* write a journal with your child and respond to each other
* look at what children have written to hand in to class, not to correct, but to show interest
* listen to the student read their writing out loud
* read the child’s writing out loud to let him / her hear how it sounds
* ask the child to discuss what he / she wishes to write about before the actual writing begins
* encourage students to jot down words or ideas in preparation to write
* guide children to the correction of their own mistakes with questions rather than correcting the errors for them

Encourage/Discuss

An interesting research study done with younger children showed that those children whose parents talked to them before they went to school did better academically that those who hadn’t started the day with a positive conversation. Another researcher found that having a daily positive conversation about school increased the academic achievement of children considerably.

* talk about school often and help children reach realistic but ambitious goals
* ask to see what your child has done each day, ‘ nothing ‘ is not an acceptable answer
* encourage the student to teach you concepts learned in class in order to be sure that they know the material
* support the child by being happy, excited and proud when they do something well even if his / her grades are not that high
* riding in the car is an especially good time to talk, to play word games or for story telling
* don’t compare your child to others as everyone is unique ( they do it to themselves more than we realize)

All people do not learn the same way. The style a student uses often influences the way he/she learns. Often parents assume that the way they learn or their preferred style is the same as their children’s mode of learning.This is often not the case. When trying to assist your child learn it is often helpful to consider that your learning style and that of your child may not match. Just the realization of another’s style may alleviate or help ease tension at study time.

Mistakes

Many students go through life believing that failing or even just making a mistake is something to be avoided at all possible costs. To admit to a mistake or failure is viewed as a disgrace rather than as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Very few students feel that mistakes are helpful.

Every student needs to hear that everyone has failures in life. He/she needs to know that others, especially parents and teachers, have not only had failures, but have survived and learned from them.

Students who don’t confront their failures or weaknesses miss out on the opportunity to grow. Risk taking is often avoided and weaknesses are hidden rather than faced and turned into positive learning situations.
* a calm and gentle analysis of mistakes will help to increase risk taking and eventually knowledge acquisition
* allow students to be responsible for attaining excellence according to their talents and appropriate ability levels
* start by discussing your own mistakes and showing how you later succeeded
* try to minimize your child’s weaknesses by pointing out strengths
* give children an increasing number of opportunities for success at home
* encourage your child to do service work with others less fortunate or the elderly
* stress the confidence you have in your child
* reward approximations of desired behavior in order to increase your child’s confidence

Researchers suggest the C to C Ratio is the number of criticisms compared to the number of compliments.
Parent to Child C-C – average 12 to l ( 12 criticisms for each compliment)
Teacher to Student C-C average 18 to 1 ( 18 criticisms for each compliment)
Does this mean we are constantly critical of our children ? NO

The C-C ratio suggests we often only mention what we are concerned about. We, as parents,forget to tell our children when they have done well. We, as teachers, call home only when there is a concern, not when there is something to celebrate.

Remember: Play Games!!!!!!

 

Originally published: A Place for All Learners at Personality Type in Depth Nov 2013

Parents Can Help( Writing)

Helping Your Student Write

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As writing assignments become more difficult, it is hard for parents to remain involved; however, there are many ways parents can help with the writing process.

Writing is often one of the most difficult and frustrating skills students must master. Not only is writing a difficult process to master but it seems that our lifestyle often discourages writing, thus making it seem as if writing standards are decreasing. Writing is a skill that MUST constantly be practiced.
We don’t write as much today…

* TV and Video are passive activities

* Telephones often take the place of letter writing, invitations or note writing

* Our ready made society provides greeting cards and messages for every occasion

* Form or computerized letters are common

* Often poorly written songs, books or film scripts become best sellers

One bright spot…

E- Mail has revived short written messages

Encourage Writing

* Read the papers your teen writes for school.

* Photocopy a good paper and send it to an interested relative or friend.

* Students with a writing talent should be encouraged to keep a collection of best works.

* Encourage older students to help younger students write.

* Have students write messages on family greeting cards.

* Encourage your teenager to write letters to the editor if he/she has a strong opinion about current events.

* Encourage students to correct their own writing mistakes.

* Write a holiday journal or write a journal back and forth to each other. When you write for your child and he or she writes back to you it shows the student different ways of saying something and it may keep an open communication going.

* Encourage students to read good writing and model it.
* Talk or read about the topic your student is writing about. Tell the student what you know or have experienced in relation to the topic they have chosen.

So often parents try to help their students write and sometimes frustration sets in or the parent just gives up and writes a bit of the work themselves. If you are a parent that is doing more work than your student, in this area, please try a few of the following suggestions. They may save your sanity.

 Help with Pre- writing

Do encourage the student to explain the assignment made by the teacher

Don’t interpret the assignment; ask questions to guide the student to the correct interpretation.
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Do have the student discuss what he or she wants to write about. Make certain the student can offer details to support any ideas developed.

Don’t tell the student what to write about. Make a wide range of suggestions from which the student can choose.

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Do encourage the student to jot down words or ideas as he or she thinks through the topic.

Don’t add details for the student. Ask questions. What color? How ugly?

Rough Copy

Do encourage students to write a rough copy.

Don’t worry about neatness or correctness yet.

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Do provide a dictionary and thesaurus. Remind students of alternate spellings.
f is also ph etc.

Don’t spell the words for students before you help them find the word in the dictionary. Then spell the word if necessary.

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Do ask questions of students when you read their rough copy. For example:
*What sound did the door make?
*What word might paint a better picture here?
*What did the man look like?

*Ask how a sentence could be changed or reorganized to make the piece clearer.

Don’t correct, reword or add details yourself. Guide the student through questions. It is his or her composition. He may want the man to have blue hair.

The Final Draft

Do encourage the student to be careful in the preparation of a good copy.

Don’t rewrite the paper for the student no matter how sloppy or unusual you think the presentation is.

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Do listen to the student read the paper out loud. Ask the student questions as they read to help make the piece smooth and give them a sense of pride.

Don’t make a judgment about the piece. Remember students are just learning many aspects of the writing process.

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Do read the paper for the student. Let him or her hear how it sounds. Help the student with any wording or sentences they want to change but are unsure of.

Don’t insist on changes you think should be made. Just guide and help with changes if the student asks.
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The Graded Paper

Do read the teacher’s comments together. Make sure the student understands what was said. Use the paper as a guide to help the student change something in the writing for next time. Use it as a learning tool.

Don’t complain about the grade. Encourage the attitude that the paper and grade gives an indication of how the writing can be improved. If you are concerned or have questions, speak to the teacher privately or encourage the student to question something you do not understand.

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Do talk about the discouragement of professional writers. Explain how writers learn by writing, rewriting, rewriting and rewriting again and again,

Don’t challenge the teacher’s judgment. Encourage the student to talk to the teacher and clarify any questions he or she is concerned about. Do call the teacher privately if you feel something seems unfair.

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Do help the student rework on the piece of writing even if the teacher doesn’t require it. Then send the piece to a supportive relative or friend to show you are proud of your child or teen’s effort.
Don’t be afraid to give a great deal of guidance and support at this point Encourage the student to seek help at school if the revised work is still not what the student is pleased with.
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