An idea that is beginning to gain a lot of favour in educational circles at the moment is the notion of fixed versus growth mindsets, and how they might relate to students and learning. Based on the work of Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, the idea of mindset is related to our understanding of where ability comes from. It has recently been seized upon by educators as a tool to explore our knowledge of student achievement, and ways that such achievement might be improved.
Growing up poor can influence people's sense of control and in turn may lead them to more impulsive decision-making and quickly give up on challenging tasks in uncertain situations, according to new research.
Melissa Molitor's insight:
SES influences our lives from childhood through adulthood. How can we, as educators, help to break this cycle?
If you're not worried by the direction of recent political opposition to the Common Core State Standards, you should be. Politicians who have worked themselves into a lather about the Common Core are fostering the myth that good standards are by definition nothing like Common Core. This myth is breeding a host of rash and ill-informed actions whose consequences could reach well beyond the standards themselves. When politicians use schools to advance their ideological or political ends, children suffer.
Melissa Molitor's insight:
Nothing is perfect, but some lengths that legislators go to are ridiculous.
For all of the talk about how different reading instruction is meant to be in the Common Core era, and for all of the hand wringing over the critical “instructional shifts” embedded in the new literacy standards, a glimpse at the world of classroom implementation reveals that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Melissa Molitor's insight:
This blog/article is an explanation as to why a student might excell in the reading classroom, yet fail to show similar proficiency on a test.
Cape Town - The first stories told to me were those around a dining room table. Stories of family luck and misfortune; sickness and death and “spook stories”. I sat wide-eyed, taking it all in. What was left out (not for children’s ears!) I filled in with my imagination.
Yet, my family was not a family who read books. Instead, they read from newspapers, some sent as bound editions all the way from England. These were copies of the Daily Mail, in which cartoons such as Garth, Jane, Pip Squeak and Wilfred and others appeared.
Through these, I journeyed into the land of cartoons with the greatest of ease. Then, occasionally, children’s books drifted into our home, and it was a treat to hear my older sister read from Enid Blyton’s Five-Minute Tales collection.
These came with black and white illustrations that showed “bobbies”, postmen, middle-class children and scenes from that faraway place overseas, England.
And, while my sister read, I would be there, running down some country lane following a naughty goblin or climbing over pasture gates on the way to Milly-Molly-Mandy’s cottage.
So, through story, I became a traveller.
Noddy’s Toyland; Alice’s Wonderland; the sea, the lakes and shore where the Famous Five had their adventures – these all became as real to me as my own small suburban street. And herein lies the power of stories: they transport, they provide landscapes that exist in the imagination, inner landscapes you might say.
In those days, most storybooks took South African children out of Africa, to faraway places in Europe or the US.
But, as much as it enriches a reader to share and learn of “others”, it is just as important to have home-grown stories; stories that validate who we are, our own culture and allow us to see ourselves in the books we read – stories with which we can closely identify and give us a place in literature.
It is both comforting and strengthening to recognise the “voice” in a story as belonging to us, especially when it’s a story that can be strongly associated with a personal situation, whatever that may be.
These days, there is still a shortage of South African children’s stories, but organisations such as Praesa (The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), which is driving the national Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, are ensuring that South African children’s stories in a variety of mother tongue languages are making their way into the homes and lives of our families through its digital and print platforms.
And, the function of a story, particularly when it is written or told to you in your own language, to change how you feel about the world and yourself, is phenomenal.
This is underlined by the phrase: “That book changed my life.” Further, I am happy to say that there is no one function or purpose for a book. There are books that cover all needs: the need to laugh, to fantasise, to be entertained, to cry, to mourn, to hope, to aspire towards a dream, to understand others and to help us to become the people we wish to become. So powerful!
The physical closeness and mental bond between parent and child through shared reading can form a strong bond that lasts a lifetime. And, further, reading to children is the most pleasurable and effective way of training little minds to focus while stimulating the imagination, both vital facilities in preparing children for school.
I have a chant that I do with children when I visit schools. It goes like this: “The more you read, the smarter you get! The smarter you get, the more you read!” Try it!
Take your children on a reading adventure these holidays. To access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, tips on reading and writing with children or for more information about the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, visit www.nalibali.org or www.nalibali.mobi.
l Niki Daly is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator.
If you are reading this now, the chances are pretty high that you already have read something alleging that the Common Core State Standards are the result of a conspiracy led by (1) Bill Gates (2) President Barack Obama (3) Corporate America (4)...
More than 75,000 of you voted for your favorite young-adult fiction. Now, after all the nominating, sorting and counting, the final results are in. Here are the 100 best teen novels, chosen by the NPR audience.
WBAL Baltimore Morgan State alum brings 'Pens of Power' WBAL Baltimore Enter Pens of Power -- a literary program Spencer created to help inner city youth flex their creative talents through writing and performance arts.
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