Elementary School, Great for All Ages, High School, Middle School, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#99 Bob Sternberg on Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, and Success

Psychologist Bob Sternberg joins Fireborn to talk about how there is more to succeeding and thriving than testing well. He says “You don’t have to be the best student in your class to have something to contribute to the world.” That’s an excellent message to get across to kids because in school you are so often assessed based on grades that it may be hard to remember that you have value even if you aren’t the best in your class. In this episode, we talk about how to help your child really take that message to heart.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

What skills are tests missing?

Creativity

  • People need to aware and adept to the ambiance of the rapidly changing world in order to succeed. This applies both for businesses and in social aspects of life.
  • Schools don’t reward creativity, but actively penalize it. School want things done a certain way. For example, if the student does not solve a mathematical problem the way they were taught, but wrote the correct answer, they would still lose points for not following the way they were taught to solve the problem.

What can parents do?

  • The best thing to do is model creativity and not be dogmatic about it. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your own creativity to your kids. Be flexible in your own life.
  • Encourage your child to look at problems in alternative ways and take sensible risks.
  • Help your child realize that when you do things creatively you may get beaten down, but that’s ok, you have to be resilient in the face of objections or resistance.
  • Reward creativity.
  • Sometimes you have to look at things differently from how you have in the past by letting go of the things you may have once believed was true.

Common Sense or Practical Intelligence

  • This means knowing how to respond to different kinds of practical and social situations; such as handling conflict and making judgements of things that our “worth your time.”
  • Common sense or practical intelligence is weakly correlated with IQ type and academic intelligence. “Being a star student doesn’t buy you any common sense.”
  • Common sense or practical intelligence is important. Tests don’t value your ability to navigate the world, however

What can parents do?

  • Make sure your kids are talking to you about their problems and challenges with others.
  • Help them work through the problems they may have (don’t just tell them the answer) by discussing possible options with their advantages and disadvantages. This encourages social problem solving. By telling kids what to do it’s hard for them to develop common sense because then they don’t have experiential basis of what to do.
  • You should model common sense because children are more likely to do what you do, not just what you say.

Wisdom

  • Wisdom means using your knowledge and abilities for a common good. It’s taking the smarts you have and applying it to make the world a better place.

What can parents do?

  • Show that as a parent you value a common good. Show that you care about making the world a better place and you hope they will too.
  • Think about what to do to make the world a better place.
  • Have your child do prosocial things that will help whatever issues you think are important.

Find one’s passion

  • Parents can help their child find the “thing(s)” that’s right for them. This may be something parents did not have in mind. Parents can help encourage their child to find what excites them, whether or not it excites the parents. Just make sure that it doesn’t get them in trouble.
  • Parents may try to impose their value system onto their child, and that doesn’t work. It may not be what’s best for them.

What can parents do?

  • You may try a lot of things with your kids and find that most don’t work. Expose them to different kinds of experiences and interests, knowing that most won’t work.

Parents should show genuine interest and be willing to devote their time and mental resources to kids. When your kids talk, listen to them. When they need help be there for them. Don’t be intrusive and try to take over their life. Invest yourself in making the kids who they can be. This takes time and patience.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Motivating the Unmotivated, School Advice, The Happy Student Podcast

#94: Just Get Started

It can be really hard for kids to start writing a paper or to work on math problems because “They just don’t know how”. But one of the best ways, is to just get started! That is a surprisingly tough lesson to teach. Fireborn’s got a few tips to make it a little easier!

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This episode focuses on the executive function skill called initiation, which involves  just getting started.

I struggled with writing when I was young. I didn’t understand the usefulness of outlines and I would often get overwhelmed because there was so much stuff that needed to go into a paper. I wouldn’t know where to start. I’d look at a blank screen and that certainly wouldn’t help. But that thought process – that “I don’t know where to start” thinking is the problem. Because you just have to get started anywhere so that your brain starts thinking about the problem and without knowing it, you’ll finally realize that you’ve been writing your paper. Or at least getting some productive thoughts out.

So how can you help your kid just get started writing? I…

  • read the instructions and as I read them, on my blank page, I made a to do list of things that the paper needed.
  • wrote a simple thesis on the page: “This is a paper about ________”.
  • wrote an outline.
  • talked or wrote down my first thoughts that maybe don’t mean much, but that just got my brain started thinking about what I needed to write about. Often, you may think that these thoughts aren’t useful, but you can usually use them somewhere in your paper – intro, conclusion, as part of an argument or evidence. Or maybe you can’t, but it at least gets you started thinking about what you want to say and that’s the goal.

When you give these suggestions, make sure they come across as suggestions. Kids prefer to have the ability to choose how they go about doing things. They don’t like to be told what to do – they get enough of that. So it can really be helpful if you just give options. They may not take those options right away, but they will always be there in the back of their minds and eventually you will get through to them!

So I had a hard time in general with standardized testing especially with math problems. I would read the word problem and if I didn’t know exactly how I was going to figure it out, I would just kind of stare at it for a little bit, not write anything down, and look at my tutor and say, “I don’t know.” It was very similar to how I handled chemistry problems that I didn’t understand. I wouldn’t write anything down and I’d move on to the next question.

I was advised to just start doing some math – whatever math you think is right. Try it out. Even if it doesn’t get you to the right place, it will get you somewhere and that will give you information about where you went wrong. And so despite my protestations and because of my tutor’s patient insistence, I would start trying the math that I knew was going to be wrong.

Just getting started by writing the problems down helped me figure out the right answer eventually. By thinking about the problem only, I was denying myself the opportunity to think more deeply about the problem and figure out where my thinking was off track. But by writing down my first thoughts and reviewing my work and just giving my brain time to think more about the problem, I was able to figure out the answers. Just getting started, even if you start in a place that isn’t right, gets your brain thinking about the problem and helps you solve it.

The best way you can help your kid get started is to sit with them (if they are happy to have you sit with them) and to just gently encourage them to try anything and review their work. By patiently sitting with them, you also show them that it’s okay if it takes time to figure out a problem. By patiently sitting with them, you free them up from that need for speed.  You’re essentially giving them the gift of time to really work on a problem. You are showing them that sometimes it takes time and that’s okay. You can also try telling them about how their brain works.

References:

Executive Functions Overview

The Happy Student #15: It’s Paper Time!


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WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!