Sunday, November 27, 2016

What a child doesn't learn

The most recent Parenting for High Potential- December 2016- includes an article "What a Child Doesn't Learn..." by Dr. Tracy F. Inman that briefly discusses some concerns that I have had about not addressing my child's educational needs. The soft skills that she lists include:
  • work ethic
  • responsibility
  • coping with failure
  • self-worth from accomplishment
  • study skills,
  • decision making and problem-solving skills
  • sacrifice.

When I was in high school, I managed to acquire A's with little effort. I paid attention in class quickly completed my homework- only rarely actually reading the assigned readings from textbooks. I had to learn how to learn from reading when was in college. I had a midafternoon class that consistently put me to sleep. I began to read to the book in order to learn the material. When I managed to do , the work became especially easy. I put more time into that class all my other classes combined, and yet it still only amounted to about two hours per week. I am not gifted.

My daughter does not need to put in the effort I did to achieve the A's. Fortunately she has a work ethic from home- she does work that she does not need to do in order to achieve competence. She learned responsibility, decision-making and problem-solving from home and Science Olympiads. Classwork was not involved. In elementary school I would lie about studying because studying without does not teach skills- it wastes time. I do not worry about in high school. She has not ever studied for a final exam or AP exam. I do not know that her undergraduate program will require any study skills for her, but somewhere along the way, she will have to harness discipline and learn something  her own.

Sacrifice and self worth from accomplishment. These are tough ones. Now that she is working 23+ hours a week on top of school she has had to sacrifice some of her reading time, but it is pretty much unrelated to school. As the author points out, it is hard to really feel good about something you achieve without effort.

These soft skills are the skills that will be essential as our children grow up. Without giving our gifted children a chance to develop them, we condemn some to crash and burn when they encounter the challenges of adult life. We need to push our schools to find ways to push our children to learn these skills or at least to offer opportunities to  them. Things like clubs can help- if they are well coached. Parents need to find ways to help develop these skills in spite of school's ease. The CTY program at Hopkins certainly helped, but that level challenge was not available until middle school. We need to find challenge before then. It might mean acceleration beyond grade level while in elementary class. It might mean differentiation in which students are allowed to deeply pursue passions that may seem too old for. The move toward whole group instruction in math and ELA can be devastating to these bright young minds. Let's see what we can do for them.

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