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Preparing Children for Everything including Thinking with Technology Dr. Deep Sran Founder, LSG Co-Founder, Actively Learn.

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Presentation on theme: "Preparing Children for Everything including Thinking with Technology Dr. Deep Sran Founder, LSG Co-Founder, Actively Learn."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preparing Children for Everything including Thinking with Technology Dr. Deep Sran Founder, LSG Co-Founder, Actively Learn

2 A Vision Quest We are going to tackle some of parents’, and society’s, greatest mysteries tonight

3 The Format I will present on three related topics and ask many questions. I will share what I have learned so you can compare it to what you have learned. I have many more questions than answers, so I hope we have a robust, candid conversation this evening.

4 A sample question Should I talk to my daughter’s teachers if I feel she has too much homework?*

5 What is better for her? It may seem like a simple or obvious matter, but it could have lifelong consequences if I intervene too early or too often

6 I submit... The questions we discuss tonight are even more pressing for a gifted student, because we know they can do almost anything...... That they set their mind to (and there’s the rub).

7 Quick detour What does “gifted” mean, I ask myself? –A test score? –An increased cognitive capacity across domains (“G”) ? –Domain-specific academic work above grade level (e.g., math)? –Adaptive mental habits or dispositions (grit, persistence, optimism)? –Emotional sophistication beyond chronological age (charisma, self-confidence)? –Long-term success? Of course, but this measure only works in 20 years Is it still useful?

8 It’s even more complicated, given that: Giftedness is a multi-dimensional construct –Certain dimensions can be measured with an instrument (e.g., IQ, SAT, PSAT, NWEA, etc.) –Unfortunately, the dimensions that matter most cannot (i.e. those that make for long-term success) Students can be advanced academically, and challenged socially (are they gifted?) Students can be advanced in some academic areas, less so in others (are they “gifted”?) Even the label “gifted” can have unintended, negative long-term consequences on students’ grit, resilience, persistence... (should we avoid the term altogether?)

9 Where did we end up? At LSG, the term “gifted” refers to students who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields.

10 I also wonder... What do gifted students need to learn or experience to get the most out of their gifts? Will my own children be ready for anything--because I have no idea what’s coming in 10 or 20 years--when I’m raising them in a suburban zoo?

11 Thus, Today’s Topics The Paradox of Teaching Self-Reliance –Can we teach students to be self-reliant, or must they first experience challenges that require them to be? Turning the Gift into Grit –Can we teach academically successful students what failure teaches best? The Future of Learning, Thinking and Technology –How does educational technology affect students’ ability to learn and to think?

12 1. The Paradox of Teaching Self- Reliance (or Independence)

13 Innate Desire for Independence As soon as they can, toddlers want to do everything for themselves The same is true of young adults, unless we do too much, which can disable even the best students The current model, with parents doing so much for their children, is without precedent in human history

14 Historically: Scarcity = Value In the past, adulthood came very early, and adolescence did not exist 14 th Century Europe –Goodbye at 7 Pre-Industrial Revolution: Master and Apprentice –Outside of the house, learning a craft The Victorian model of parenting –Churchill granted an audience with his parents No laws to protect children until about 100 years ago Even the current French model speaks to the virtues of the older model

15 Is our parenting model the problem? How much do children listen to someone who is, in effect, their maid, chef, driver...? How much do children learn about what they can do if we do everything for them? Can children learn self-discipline and self- reliance without external “old school” discipline?

16 First, Self-Discipline The ability to delay gratification is the key to long-term success –The Marshmallow Study –French Parenting model Even for group success (NY Times article) Insecurity Superiority Impulse control For long-term success, the discipline must be self-discipline –However, self-discipline begins as discipline –Parents, this is where you come in

17 Can children become self-reliant and independent without actually being self- reliant and independent?*

18 Self-discipline begins with external discipline. In my experience, self-reliance is different.

19 Advice: Be Less Helpful The less you do, the more they do, and the more they are able to do –Start early If you wait too long, they will face real, even insurmountable, difficulty being self-reliant –Adolescence is a 20 th century idea –Post-adolescence is a 21 st century idea Encourage your children to be self- disciplined, rather than parent-disciplined The key appears to be an honest, “adult” conversation with your children when you want them to understand you

20 And let them face the consequences (pause for effect, and examples)

21 Easier said than done, of course, so let’s practice. What does all this mean on a daily basis, at least when it comes to school?

22 Old Model v. New Model Are a teacher’s educational decisions ever wrong?* As a parent, how do you know when to intervene?* –Your 7 th grader gets a C in Algebra –Your very capable math student gets a failing grade in AP Calculus BC in 11 th grade –Your college sophomore fails Organic Chemistry Should you ever intervene about academic matters?*

23 Anything more?

24 2. Turning the Gift into Grit

25 Gifted and Successful What do gifted students need to learn or experience to get the most out of their gifts?*

26 Moving Beyond Academic Success “Alongside the academic expertise is the importance of psychological skills. This is not just to ensure that gifted children have the stability to navigate school... but also to sustain their gifts far beyond the academic walls... to work together, to persist through setbacks, to bring new knowledge creatively to novel situations...” Deards & Coulianos, Huffington Post, 1/23/2014

27 Gifted and Successful All the literature indicates that academic gifts are not sufficient for a well-adjusted, successful adulthood Other traits are critical: –Grit (Resilience) –Persistence –Social skills –Collaboration –Hard work –Self-efficacy

28 Another Paradox How do children who do well in school, and who don’t have to do much else (the suburban zoo), develop all the traits they will need for long-term success, when many of these critical traits are a product of failure at some level?*

29 Failure “The best teacher I ever had” Can we let our children fail (safely)?

30 Failure = Self-Reliance Yes! or Not so fast!*

31 Teaching Grit, Strength and Indomitable Optimism The best way for children to learn these is to see themselves overcome great challenges and failures through their own effort and resourcefulness If children don’t face these, I believe it is still possible to teach in a way that improves the likelihood a gifted, protected child will grow up resilient and strong

32 Some Strategies Hear from people with different experiences See places that show a world that challenges their assumptions and expectations Read books that expand horizons and require new perspectives Study and ask questions about serious problems Create opportunities for failing, but safely –This is where parents can help the most

33 Teaching... Based on the prior advice, ironically, technology can help and harm (foreshadowing) How can it help? How can it harm?

34 Anything more?

35 Now, let’s look ahead to... 3. The Future of Learning, Thinking and Technology

36 The History of Technology in Education Writing The Book The Typewriter The Personal Computer and Local Applications (e.g., Commodore Pet, Commodore 64, Apple 2e, Mac, Windows PCs) Internet and Search (Northern Lights?) Social Media (YouTube, Facebook, twitter) Mobile

37 The Future of Technology in Education? Personalization and Big Data Asynchronous, remote learning –Learning guardians, instead of teachers –Computer interfaces, instead of social interactions The end of college in its current form?

38 Focus The discipline of reading and our accomplishments since Gutenberg What happens in a world of tweets, texts, and blurbs? Do we merely graze information for short periods of time, or are we still going to make great discoveries?

39 Time and Effort Going through the steps always means more learning What happens when technology allows us to skip steps?

40 Writing and Rewriting Writing by hand (not typing or copying and pasting electronic text) Outlining, Writing and Rewriting: Incremental Iteration Taking notes in one book, and notes about your notes in another –Metacognition –Synthesis –The commonplace book

41 Cognitive Load Still only an advanced primate brain with limited working memory Stress and anxiety when the load is great How do you contain the flood of information, reminders, pop-ups?

42 At the same time... The unthinkable has already been achieved Instant access to knowledge People connected in real-time across the globe Equity Crowdsourcing Is the sun rising or setting?

43 My work: Actively Learn Do what we could not otherwise do –Beginning in 1999, how could technology address the limitations of paper? Use technology as the solution to technology Help students make connections that are otherwise impossible

44 Change is the only certainty Whatever we might think here, education is definitely moving away from what we know But there are no shortcuts, not with our current brains. –This is where parents can help

45 You are the last generation to remember an analog world, what are your thoughts?

46 Wrapping Up Teaching Self-Reliance –Parents: Be less helpful & let consequences happen Turning the gift into grit –Parents and School: Help students can learn from others’ experiences Thinking with Educational Technology –Students: There are no shortcuts –Everyone: We need to be careful; technology has changed quickly, our brains have not, and humanity itself is at stake


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