From the desk of President Education

Mrs. Chanda Raisinghani

Mrs. Chanda Raisinghani
Trustee & President Education & Training

Insightful article in The Hindu , Friday July 29, 2016- seven qualities in your parenting style

Hello Parents,

As we move into the special month, for us Indians “August”, I share with you an insightful article I read in the Hindu on Friday July 29, 2016. It re emphasizes the aims of Montessori education.

Sharing it, with all of you so that you can include the seven qualities in your parenting style.

Jai hind

The seven qualities worth developing.

Writer Paul Tough delves on a different set of skills which matter as much as the IQ.

The manner of imparting knowledge has always been a conundrum. Every now and then we get new ideas, new insights while the major section of our education system continues, unaware! Which is right, who can tell?

However in the strain of thought that uncovers new possibilities come the books from Paul Tough. A Canadian-American writer Paul Tough says, “We have been emphasising the wrong skills and abilities in our children and we have been using the wrong strategies to help develop those skills. The name I give to this in my book is ‘The Cognitive Hypothesis’.” Tough’s book is titled “How Children Succeed”. A sequel to it, “Helping Children Succeed; What Works and Why”, has just been released.

Demolishing the global obsession over test scores, Tough says that we believe a high IQ assessed on standardized tests is the indicator of success, but, “The educators and scientists that I wrote about have identified a different set of skills which they say matter at least as much as IQ if not more so. The list includes, persistence, creativity, curiosity, conscientiousness, self control, optimism and grit. ..If you talk to economists, they call it non-cognitive skills, psychologists use the term personality traits, neuroscientists call it executive functions and educationists think of it as character.”

“Research suggests,” says Tough, “that if we want to intervene to help children develop these skills there are two particular times in a child’s life that are specially fruitful. One is early childhood when the brain is malleable, so plastic…and the other is in adolescence that is because of a phenomenon which scientists call meta cognition which means thinking about thinking. It is in adolescence when young people are really able to reflect on their own thought processes…they are able to think deeply about themselves. Interventions try to take advantage of this natural habit to change their habits, their thinking.”

Tough now identifies two types of minds: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. He says those with the growth mindset are more malleable in their brains, they think and believe they can grow while those with the fixed mindset believe what is, is. Tough further says the seven qualities that he mentioned earlier belong to the first category in the sense that they are not born with you, but can be developed as skills. He quotes the attempts of two schools, one in a not-so-well-to-do neighbourhood and the other in the very prosperous neighbourhood of New York, to implement and study these seven qualities in children.

A telling comment from him comes when he describes how the schools went about their task at hand. The less affluent school started issuing report cards for the seven qualities in an attempt to improve them. The affluent school however did not, for the principal feared that being highly competitive and stressed, parents may engage tutors to help their children pass the curiosity and persistence tests!

And this would defeat the purpose for character strengths like grit and self control are born out of failure and in most high achieving academic environments no one ever fails. Tough says these qualities come from the right feedback from teachers and an ability to manage failure and bounce back. And invariably, says Tough that if you look back, sports coaches or a music teacher were the kind of people who helped you develop these qualities. You always face failure of some sort in these fields and learn to learn from them. This rarely happens in a math or history class.

He closes his talk with another important truth which is that creativity has two sides to it. The first is to have a free mind which can come up with new ideas, which can roam the world with a sparkle. But equally important it is to train the mind so that the creative thought can be turned into a complete creative project. It may be a book, a symphony…just anything…and these take long years to complete. The grit to stay on and complete is when the creativity manifests for all to see, enjoy.

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