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Via Scoop.it – The Middle Road Recently, a study on adolescent brain development emerged from the research of Dr. Jay Giedd. Reported widely, including on PBS Frontline’s feature, “Inside the Teenage Brain,” Giedd’s findings help unlock some of the …Via … Continue reading
How many times have you asked your middle level learner what s/he did in school or class that day, only to get the response, “Nothin'”? You’re not alone. It’s frustrating to get the discussion to go anywhere beyond…nothin’.
By utilizing something called the Socratic Method, we can foster learning and critical thinking as well as develop key dialogue skills necessary in a 21st-Century world.
The origin of the Socratic Method stems way back to the days of Socrates, where he emphasized asking deep questions to nurture thinking. The Socratic Method exposes the logic of one’s thought and typically uses a variety of questioning forms. The key is to cultivate true thought, to not just accept “nothin'” as an appropriate response. Let’s take a look at some examples of Socratic questioning in action and how we can apply them in our classrooms and homes:
- Tell me more/investigate reason or evidence: I’m not sure I understand. Can you give me an example or compare it to something I might already know? How did you come to that conclusion?
- Examine assumptions/not taking everything at face value: What are you assuming? What reasons do you have for this?
- Explore other ideas or viewpoints: I’ve heard your opinion. How might other people respond? How would you handle an objection by __________ about this?
- Think ahead/probe implications or consequences: What effect would ______________ have? Can you deal with the consequences?
- Question the questions: What is the math problem really asking you to do? How can we find out? What questions do we need to answer before we tackle this one? Where else can you find an answer to this question?
By incorporating any of these types of questions into our discussions with our middle level learners, we are fostering thoughtful and comprehensive thinking, a skill set vital for future problem solvers. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s imperative.
To learn more about Socratic Method, http://www.tip.duke.edu/node/84 offers parents/educators a wealth of information regarding promoting meaningful dialogue in adolescents.
Being a “Word Nerd” definitely has its side affects. I collect words. I love words. I love the origin of words, the invention of new words and the evolution of words. I’m pretty certain I’m the only person I know who waits for Webster’s to come out with its “Word of the Year.” It’s pretty much up there with the Oscars or Grammys. And, no. I’m not kidding.
I also love the power of words. For as long as I can remember, I’ve collected sayings and quotes for whatever reason. Sometimes, I’d clip them and use them in scrap-/memory-booking activities for my family or Girl Scout Troop. Sometimes, I’d write them in a journal solely dedicated to motivation and inspiration. Maybe spiritual. Maybe physical. Maybe intellectual. Sometimes, I’d save them simply because of the giggle or grin they’d bring to me at the moment or because they dumbfound me with the ignorance that pervades some people when they speak. Outloud. In public.
I’ve taught middle level students for over 20 years, and sometimes no matter the cartwheels I do, they still lack motivation or inspiration for any writing assignment I give, much less for life itself. So, I decided to devote part of my week to sharing my little nuggets of inspiration with them…and let them decide what the message is. Hopefully, one (or more) of them will find light in the passages I share, and they, too, can clip them and put them in their own little treasure chest for future use.
From Today’s Quotes:
- Facing it – always facing it – that’s the way to get through it. Face it! ~ Joseph Conrad, British author, considered to be one of the first modernist writers
- Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing. ~ Abraham Lincoln (I would hope most of us know who he was)
- None will improve your lot if you yourself do not. ~ Bertolt Brecht, politically-infused German playwright
- Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kids, Let’s go.’ ~ Maya Angelou, American author and poet
- One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful. ~ Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist and father of psychoanalysis
Now, I usually introduce these and let students sit on them for a spell. Then, we talk. I don’t normally encourage 100% conformity, so I accept pretty much any and all interpretations they offer. Again, it allows me as a middle level educator to see where their heads are at…even when it may be lightyears from where my head may be at! That’s what makes each discussion so unique. The whole purpose is to read it, reflect on it and determine whether it meets “inspiration level” in our own minds…and then determine why or why not.
I’ll share more little pearls of wisdom I’ve shared with my students. Maybe next time, I’ll share their reads on the quotes. It really doesn’t get any better than that!
Until the next chapter,
Our roles as educators and parents of middle level learners are daunting ones. We somehow need to prepare our youth for a business world that requires skills not found in teachers’ manuals or academic model standards. Yet repeatedly, we hear business leaders tell us our graduates lack skills necessary for this “new” real world. What do we do to combine our real world of academic accountability and test scores with our students’ future real world of business?
In his book, The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner identifies seven survival skills our students need to not only survive, but thrive, in a 21st-Century business climate. To give insight into what business leaders want from their future employees, Wagner summarizes below:
- CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING ~ “The idea that a company’s senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside…The person who’s close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don’t take things at face value, don’t go in with preconceived ideas that you’re trying to prove.” ~ Ellen Kumata, consultant for Fortune 200 companies
- COLLABORATION ACROSS NETWORKS AND LEADING BY INFLUENCE ~ “The biggest problem we have in the company as a whole is finding people capable of exerting leadership across the board…Our mantra is that you lead by influence, rather by authority.” ~ Mark Chandler, Sr. VP and General Counsel at Cisco
- AGILITY AND ADAPTABILITY ~ “I’ve been here four years, and we’ve done fundamental reorganization every year because of changes in the business…I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future, so this is why adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills.” ~ Clay Parker, President of Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards
- INITIATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ~ “For our production and crafts staff, the hourly workers, we need self-directed people…who can find creative solutions to some very tough, challenging problems.” ~Mark Maddox,. Human Resources Manager at Unilever Food North America
- EFFECTIVE ORAL AND WRITTEN COMMUNICATION ~ “The biggest skill people are missing is the ability to communicate: both written and oral presentations. It’s a huge problem for us.” ~ Annmarie Neal, Vice President for Talent Management at Cisco Systems
- ACCESSING AND ANALYZING INFORMATION ~ “There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren’t prepared to process the information effectively, it almost freezes them in their steps.” ~ Mike Summers, VP for Global Talent Management at Dell
- CURIOSITY AND IMAGINATION ~ “Our old idea is that work is defined by employers and that employees have to do whatever the employer wants…but actually, you would like him to come up with an interpretation that you like—he’s adding something personal—a creative element.” ~ Michael Jung, Sr. Consultant at McKinsey and Company
Now we know what the expectations are. What can we, as educators and parents, do to nurture our middle level learners’ growth in their next “real world?”
When children reach their middle level years (ages 10-15), parents/guardians may experience a false sense of relief because they believe their preteens no longer need supervision after school. This couldn’t be further from the truth. According the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, studies reveal that youth with too much time on their hands may actually be at increased risk of substance abuse issues.
One study found that eighth graders who were unsupervised for 11 hours of a week were twice as likely to use drugs and alcohol as those under some type of adult supervision. That’s just a little scary!
Let’s face it. In today’s economy, parents/guardians have to hold jobs, many of those not ending until well after their children are let out of school. Day care costs put family budgets at risk, and not everyone has a family network on which to rely for supervision. So, how can adults find the after-school supervision their kids need without breaking the bank? Here are some options:
- School activities. If you look into what schools have to offer after school, you will find a multitude of opportunities. Anything from after-school homework clubs to science and technology clubs to athletic programs. There is always something going on once that end-of-the-day bell rings. These can lead to positive, lifelong connection for our adolescents.
- Community centers. Many communities have Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and/or other youth programs in which preteens and teens can get involved. If there is nothing like this in your community, gather some friends and start one!
- Volunteering. These connections often lead to an increased self-esteem because of that “doing good for others” sense of self worth that accompanies community service opportunities. Just think of the job skills your child can acquire by making the world a better place. A definite win-win!
- Youth organizations. Scouting, 4-H and many other student organizations have programs designed for middle level students. What better place to meet new friends, connect with others with like interests and develop work and life skills that will benefit them in the future!
Whether they admit it or not, adolescents still need us. They need guidance, boundaries, compliments and privileges. They need us to be the adults. Trust me, the investment made now will pay dividends down the road.
Keeping the Magic,