Susan Cain: The power of introverts | Talk Video | TED

Being a strong extrovert, learning about introverts made me rethink so many of my — and society’s — existing paradigms. What social behaviors do we value? How do we teach kids?

My kids are both strong introverts. My daughter is probably off the charts, although as a teen-ager, she also enjoys being with friends. However, she avoids large events, has a small, tight group of friends, and craves having a full day of time all by herself. A full day of school exhausts her.

Where does this leave her academically? As Susan Cain explains, school now revolves largely around group activities. Even if the work is done on your own, you’re always surrounded by other people – up to 35 or more kids in a classroom.

No wonder she retreats to the safety of her phone in school. It’s one way to be by herself in a sea of humanity.


The Learning Revolution

I had the honor of hearing Jonathan Mooney speak recently. This is an excellent quick peek at his message of the need for a different look at education. We can no longer define intelligence as just reading, as the good kid is the one who sits still.

Just watch it. It’s only 7 minutes.

Getting Through

Parents and teachers should do everything possible to help kids get through high school without hating it.

-Gary Stager

Saw a recent tweet from Scott McLeod referencing this post by Gary Stager.

Wow. That is exactly what I’m facing right now with my 16-year old. How can this be? How can Gary Stager know this?

I don’t know the context of the entire post (great bits of wisdom he is sharing with parents from a Colorado school) but this bit really hit home. While I’m grateful that it appears that I’m not the only one in this situation, it is dreadfully sad that this is even an option!

My daughter (a junior) already hates high school. And honestly, who can blame her? Her every movement is questioned, regulated and controlled. She is told what she is supposed to learn, how she should learn it and how she has to demonstrate that learning. It’s even worse that the type of learning/assessment expected is largely rote, heavy reading and standardized multiple choice testing — all of which is difficult/boring for most kids, not to mention kids with attention deficits and dyslexia. For creative kids, this is enough to suck the soul out of learning and kill their spirit.

Yet, she’s blamed for not working hard enough.

Huh — have you ever seen her work on the lines to a play? unwrap a very difficult passage in a choral piece? curate visuals for her blog or develop a playlist? Watch her taking pictures sometime. She can work, she can focus. She just can’t do it on stuff that isn’t interesting. But she’s told that all the things she finds stimulating aren’t valid. Not explicitly, but truly, that’s what traditional schooling tells us all the time, everytime you enter a class, take a test or do homework.

I don’t blame the teachers. Most of them have their heart in the right place. They just have unrealistic workloads, too many standards to teach, and ridiculous pressure for these tests. Please give them some space to do what they want to do, why most of them went into the profession.

So, Gary Stager, how do I get my daughter through these last two years of high school?

Two Movements, Same Message

I recently attended a workshop for parents of kids with ADHD and/or dyslexia. We are dealing with a recent diagnosis in one of our kids — and it’s a whole new road to travel.

Jonanthan Mooney was inspiring and motivating. He talked about his experiences as a kid with ADHD and dyslexia. He talked about how important people in his life lifted him up and empowered him to take control to eventually graduate from Brown, write two books and be a founder of a non-profit. I do think he needs to give himself a little more credit – -he has an amazing resolve and motivation to do things right.

His message about “disabilities” in school was profound, being new to this world. He talked at length about the “disability” of ADHD/Dsylexia being a disability only in certain places, like school. In other settings, it’s an asset.

Four major takeaways for me:

  • Rebuild a child’s self-esteem. The child isn’t disabled — it’s everyone else’s attitude towards these kids that is the problem. 
  • Play to their strengths, don’t remediate the weaknesses.
  • Find advocates, mentors.
  • Intelligence is defined as ability to read. This is not the only way to measure, demonstrate intelligence.

While I was at this session purely for personal reasons as a parent of a child with ADHD and dyslexia, I was struck by the similarities in his advocacy for children with “disablities” and the messages I know well from the education technology movement.

  • He has a profound dislike of standardized tests
  • Sitting still shouldn’t get you good grades
  • Need to teach collaboration and critical thinking above memorization
  • Use the tools we have (TECHNOLOGY) to access content. TEACH kids to think, not memorize.

Here’s his message in a TED Talk nutshell: