Friday Round Up 5/11/12

Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?
In the process of writing his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works Jonah Lehrer has discovered that many children lose their playful sense of creativity as they get older, specifically between the ages of 3rd-5th grade. Lehrer believes this is partially because our students are deemed valuable based on their ability to sit quietly in class, when in actuality, students who have distraction problems in school have a higher chance of becoming “eminent creative achievers.” Lehrer discusses the importance of giving our children a large menu of creative opportunities, and allowing them to select what they enjoy. Once they’ve found something they love it is up to adults to help them pursue these creative interests and encourage them to work hard and persevere to achieve greater goals in these areas.

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The Global Search for Education: In Search of Professionals
This article interviews Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She shares her insight on what she hopes the next generation of teachers could look like, discussing her experiences and the importance of combating teacher attrition rates. In addition she focuses on the importance of respecting teachers, improving teacher training courses and providing development and support once teachers are on the job. She highlights how we must stop training our teachers in the education programs from 20 and 30 years ago, and focus on teaching for todays students.

A Great Reason for Appreciating High School Teachers
This week in National Teacher Appreciation week! Bob Lenz, the Chief Education Officers of Envision Schools in California, shares his first hand experience on how hard many high school teachers in the country work every school week; putting in an average of 70 hours of work after you calculate teaching time, staff development, lesson planning and grading. Today, as our education system is struggling, much blame is put on the shoulders of our teachers. Lenz believes that instead devoting our efforts to eliminating “bad” teachers, we should support our educators and provide them with the professional working conditions they need to thrive. It is also our responsibility to tell our policy makers that we need to create a system in this country where teaching is a valued as other high prestige career fields, such as doctors, so the most talented and dedicated individuals move towards the industry.

Be careful when comforting struggling students
This recent British study found that teachers who believed students have fixed ability levels in math were more likely to make prematures ability-based excuses for underperformance. These students also performed at a lower level on assessment (compared with students of teachers that believe math ability can be malleable) when their teachers attempted to comfort the students with comments such as “you are very talented overall, but some people just have difficulties in math.” While it may seem painful to see a student struggle in a subject, even teachers with best intentions can actually harm students when they attempt to comfort them by claiming their struggles are due to an inability to succeed at a higher level.

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