Growth Mindset Research–Why we need to re-consider teaching cursive handwriting.

Quote:  “Cursive handwriting improves neural connections in the brain,” and stresses physiological movement of writing cursive letters to “build pathways in the brain while improving mental effectiveness.” Iris Hatfield

What you may not realize–and what many educators and parents do not realize– is that by learning cursive you are learning how to communicate in another method from printing and keyboarding. In practicing cursive you are building the neural pathways necessary to stimulate brain activity that enables language fluency and vision-motor control important for cognitive development, learning, reading, sports, and other everyday tasks. In most three grade classrooms computers and key boards now dominate every classroom. With the entrance of the information age has come a shift to emphasizing the development of knowledge skills over physical skills.  Keyboarding is in vogue and cursive is out as one of the Common Core Standards for best education practices.

What you may not realize–and what many educators and parents do not realize– is that by learning cursive you are learning how to communicate in another method from printing and keyboarding. In practicing cursive you are building the neural pathways necessary to stimulate brain activity that enables language fluency and vision-motor control important for cognitive development, learning, reading, sports, and other everyday tasks. In most three grade classrooms computers and key boards now dominate classrooms throughout our nation. With the entrance of the information age has come a shift to emphasizing the development of knowledge skills over physical skills.  Keyboarding is in vogue and cursive is out as one of the Common Core Standards for best education practices.

Without recognizing it, those repetitive cursive handwriting drills we did as children were some of our first and most basic steps in developing our cognitive abilities. Fine motor skills are the building blocks our brains need to connect and make sense of the world around us through our 5 senses. Understanding and knowing how to form letters on lines to a certain shape and size, at a certain angle, in real time and space comes through the fine motor control of the hands and arms. Cursive handwriting naturally develops sensory skills, as they are called, by taking advantage of a child’s inability to fully control their fingers. Through repetition the child begins to understand how much force need be applied to the pencil and the paper, positioning of the pencil to paper at the correct angle, and motor planning to form each letter in fluid motion from left to right. This physical and spatial awareness allows them to write but more importantly builds the neural foundation  of sensory skills needed for a myriad of everyday tasks such as zipping up clothes to tying shoes, picking up and using objects, copying words from blackboards, shaking hands, and most importantly, reading! Unfortunately we are abandoning the activities that allow for this cognitive and physical development to take place.

Over the past few years doctors and neuroscience specialists alike have been working to understand and educate the masses on the effects of educating the mind alone.

As Pulitzer Prize nominated neurologist Frank Wilson wrote in his book, “The Hand: How its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, And Human Culture,” “teachers should not try to educate the mind by itself.” If educators continue to dissolve the disciplines that involve the hands and the body in full movement, much of the knowledge will be poorly processed and inadequately learned.

So what do we need to do as parents if neuroscience science experts and their brain research studies show the positive effects of teaching cursive handwriting as a basic building block of cognitive development?

Challenge: Find ways to educate school leaders on the neurological benefits of cursive handwriting and make parents aware of the positive effects on brain development and cursive handwriting One solution is to promote this problem is for schools to require and teach all three modes of writing–  printing, cursive and keyboarding. All of these modes have benefits for brain development and are necessary tools for brain development.

Consulted resources and research:

  1. The Hand: How its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture. Frank R Wilson. First Vintage Books Edition, September 1999.
  2. http://www.newamericancursive.com/docs/NAC Why Teach Cursive.pdf
  3. http://www.helium.com/items/197736-cursive-handwriting

 

Breakthrough Research on the Power of Belonging

Tons of research has documented how important belonging and being connected socially on our happiness and productivity. (Maslow made it one of his hierarchies of needs). Being social and feeling included is critical to our growth and development.

Dr. David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, in his breakthrough research on the Brain has identified the powerful concept of relatedness — feelings of trust, connection, and belonging—as one of the five primary categories (SCARF)five primary categories (SCARF)of social pleasures and pains (along with status, certainty, autonomy, and fairness). Rock’s research shows that the performance and engagement of employees who experience relatedness threats or failures will almost certainly suffer. And in other research, the feeling of working together has indeed been shown to predict greater intrinsic motivation which is known to be the trigger for curiosity, engagement and enjoyment that results in high productivity and a person or team’s very best performance.

 

Want to Grow and Develop in the Face of Fear or Suffering ? Learn from the Sages and Modern Day Research

To be a growth orientated person is a skill that can be learned. It is the basic foundation that underlies what we mean when we speak of having a high IQ or EQ. When we develop the skill of a “Growth Mindset” we actually change the physical structure of the brain. This revelation is based on one of the most exciting scientific discoveries of the last twenty years: How we focus our attention shapes the structure of the brain. Neuroscience has also definitively shown that we can grow these new connections throughout our lives, not just in childhood.

Want to learn how to change personal habits and reach your goals for change even in difficult and painful circumstances?

Everywhere man is confronted with reality of fate, with the chance of achieving something through the challenge of conquering difficult situations and his own suffering. The solution for finding this “inner strength” to overcome present pain and suffering is to focus on better times in the future. For example, when  working as a psychiatrist to the inmates of concentration camps during WWII, Victor Frankl found that the single most important factor in cultivating the kind of “inner hold” that allowed men to survive was teaching them to “hold in the mind’s grip some future goal”. He cites Nietzsche’s, who wrote that “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how,” and admonishes against generalization:

“ Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost. The typical reply with which such a man rejected all encouraging arguments was, “I have nothing to expect from life any more.” What sort of answer can one give to that”?

What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned and challenged by life — daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual from moment to moment in life.”

These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus, it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response. Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation (reflection) and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes man may be required simply to accept fate, to bear his cross. Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand.

Modern Day Research Support:

One modern way to learn how to handle the situation at hand is to understand and use the future planning tool “IF…Then” thinking and planning.

Well over hundred studies on achieving goals reviewed by  Gollwitzer and Paschal Sheeran research (file:///C:/Users/mark/Downloads/HP_Sheeran&Orbell(2000).pdf demonstrate how effective and efficient “if..then” plans are in facing  life challenges and overcoming tough decisions, obstacles of fear  and improving performance to keep on keeping on in the face of difficult situations like pain and suffering.

In a meta-analysis the researchers look at studies on preventative health screening, exercise, eating healthy and dieting, to negotiating and setting other life goals. They found that a person’s positive intention to perform a behavior is the key predictor for changing actual behavior and performance”.  The key elements of success were found to be –setting in advance (intentions) using IF…Then goals for taking specific actions to reach your goal. Remarkably they discovered that the use of “IF… Then” plans and focused intention can triple your chances for successful completion of personal change goals. The aim of the study was to look at the gap between setting intentions ( concept of implementation intentions) and actual behavior of woman coming for cancer screening. For example, they stated their goal of the study was address this problem using Gollwitzer’s (1993;Gollwitzer & Brandstatter, 1997) concept of implementation intentions. In particular, we examine whether intentions to attend for cervical screening that have been supplemented by implementation intentions specifying when, where, and how the appointment will be made improves the likelihood of attendance.

Self- Coaching Challenge: Try using the IF…Then intervention when trying to change habits or reach personal goals

 

Your Children Can Learn Anything: Growth Mindset Basics

Growth Mindset for Parents                                 

Parents need to learn what a growth mindset is, why it’s important, and best practices to support their children in a quest to become the “best they can be”. Learning for all of us just doesn’t happen because we are born smart or not. Learning is a life-long process that can be shaped by growing our brains over time just like we develop and grow other muscles through deliberate exercise and nurturing.

New research shows that parents beliefs and the way they talk about abilities and learning can have powerful effects on their kids’ beliefs. Certain types of seemingly positive praise like “You’re smart at this!” can backfire and make children more likely to avoid challenges or give up in the future when something is difficult.

Fortunately, the same research also shows that there are many things that we can do to help children develop into resilient learners.

Stanford University’s professor Carol Dweck has spent decades studying how people think about intelligence. Dweck and her colleagues have found that people tend to hold one of two very different perspectives about intelligence. One perspective is called a “fixed mindset”. That’s the belief that intelligence is fixed at birth and doesn’t change or changes very little with practice. It’s the belief that intelligence is like eye color. You’re stuck with whatever you’re born with.

The other perspective is called a “growth mindset”. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence improves through study, deliberative practice and effort. In other words, people with a growth mindset think intelligence is like a muscle that grows stronger with training.

For children with a “fixed mindset”, the classroom can be a difficult and unwelcoming place. They see school as the place where their abilities are evaluated and worth is judge, not as a place where their abilities are developed and failures are seen as challenges to overcome. Their goal in school tends to be to show that they are smart or at least to avoid looking dumb. For them, mistakes are a sign that they lack talent and god given ability.

For children with a “growth mindset”, the classroom is a more exciting, fun and less judgmental place. They believe they can develop their ability, and they understand that the classroom is just the place to do that. Children with a growth mindset tend to see challenges as opportunities to grow because they understand that they can improve their abilities by challenging and pushing themselves. If something is hard, they have to put in more effort and find new ways to learn and push themselves to get better.

Children who understand that the brain can get smarter—who have a growth mindset—do better in school because they have an empowering perspective on learning. They focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build their abilities. They see failure as a natural part of the learning process. In contrast, students who have a fixed mindset—those who believe that intelligence is fixed—tend to focus on judgment. They’re more concerned with proving that they are smart or hiding that they’re not. And that means they tend to avoid situations in which they might fail or might have to work hard.

Many studies show that children who have a growth mindset respond differently in challenging situations and do better in school over time.

Want to learn more on Growth Mindset visit this wonderful site that summarizes studies from praise to achievement scores for children with fixed or growth mindsets. https://www.mindsetkit.org/growth-mindset-parents

Or http://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org/about-the-network/

 

 

What does latest Research say about Living with Stress? Learn about the 90:10 Rule

Daily Quote: The bottom line of the latest research on stress is summarized by Dr. Daniela Kaufer, ” I think the ultimate message of our research is an optimistic one. Stress can be something that makes you better, but it is a question of how much, how long and how you interpret or perceive it. Stress can be a very positive motivator for personal growth and memory development.

Reflection: In looking at stress from a different point of view we can be less afraid of it and gain control of the positive aspects of the concept. I think invoking Aristotle’s “golden mean” approach to living a balanced life serves as a positive and reasonable approach for how to live our lives where “stress” is a given reality. To paraphrase this great philosopher “too much of anything can cause imbalance and overwhelm the human system and upset the natural order of things.”

Self Coaching Challenge:

Stress can be a contributor to some deadly conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, thus if left unabated it could lead to death. On the other handle it can be a source of stimulation to support  a a growth mindset and provides an opportunity to live a more exciting lifestyle. Your attitude is the key to making stress a positive or negative factor in your life. Stress affects us all differently so how we handle requires a customized plan. A plan that its foundation aims to create balance in your life. This assertion about stress is true depending on your mindset about what stress is and how it affects you. If you see, stress as a signal for living and a necessary part of the “yin and yang” of life you are on the right path.

So your challenge is to educate yourself on the topic of stress and then build an approach that can support stress as a normal condition to be handles in life.

1. How is stress impacting your life? Use some self-assessment tools to learn how it is now effecting you. See http://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/for more information

2. Choose some of the suggested behavioral tools and approaches outline in my past post on stress on how to develop new practices such as reframing, mindfulness and other beneficial practices to incorporate into your daily life. See– the wick post at  http://wp.me/pnKb1-21T

3. Learn to use the 90:10 rule for handling stress. View the following video on YouTube on the 90:10 Rule.

 

Learning Breakthrough: Focus on Growth Mindset to Reach your Full Potential

Daily Quote: “Becoming is better than being… never stop growing and believing in your potential to become a fully functioning person.”” Carl Rogers

Back in 1973 almost 41 years to the date, I made a critical decision that changed my professional life. I decided that I loved to teach and facilitate other people’s growth and development and that being an Administrator in Higher Education was to reactive and mundane for my liking. When you have a potential mindset, you can better understand that many things in live remain fixed until we see them with the new eyes of positive change and personal growth. For example, IQ, EQ, and other skills like presentations, listening and leadership can be developed. When we learn to focus on improvement and the processes of self-development instead of being concerned about whether we are talented in some activity or do we have the talent to perform. When people work hard to bring about their best through deliberative practice, effort and hard work we see improvement toward their goal to what ever it is. All of sudden they become better or seem to smarter at the activity they are trying to perfect. Based on years of research by Stanford University’s Dr. Dweck, Lisa Blackwell Ph.D., and their colleagues, we know that students who learn this mindset show greater motivation in school, better grades, and higher test scores.
What does research say about the relationship between growth mindset and fixed mindset on performance? Your belief (self-efficacy) in your self and the possibilities and potential for change have a high positive relationship to improved performance.
Mindsets Predict Motivation and Achievement
In one study, Blackwell and her colleagues “ followed hundreds of students making the transition to 7th grade. They found that students with a growth mindset were more motivated to learn and exert effort, and outperformed those with a fixed mindset in math—a gap that continued to increase over the two-year period. Those with the two mindsets had entered 7th grade with similar past achievement, but because of their different mindsets their math grades pulled apart during this challenging time. (Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). In another study, also with adolescents, Blackwell and her colleagues divided students into two groups for a workshop on the brain and study skills. Half of them, the control group, were taught about the stages of memory; the other half received training in the growth and potential mindset (how the brain grows with learning to make you smarter) and how to apply this idea to their academic schoolwork”.
Summary: the growth mindset group outperformed the control group by a level of three times better and their practice, effort and engagement was significantly higher than the fixed mindset group. Even after training was over the growth potential-mindset group showed a clear improvement in their grades.
Bottom line is that the potential and belief mindset increased achievement scores, effort expended on improvement (increased practice time), as well as greater resilience to snap-back after failures and setbacks and overall increased life satisfaction scores.
Research shows that the Brain is Malleable

Cognitive psychology and neuroscience research supports the hypothesis that positive change on mental set from fixed to a growth mindset is possible because the brain is malleable and demonstrates plasticity.
For example, neuroscientists tracked students during their teenage years. For many students, they found substantial changes in performance on verbal and non-verbal IQ tests. Using neuro-imaging, they found corresponding changes in the density of neurons in the relevant brain areas for these students. In other words, an increase in neuronal connections in the brain accompanied an increase in IQ-test performance, while a decrease in neuronal connections in the brain accompanied a decrease in IQ-test performance. If you want to learn more about this breakthrough research and how to apply the findings with your kids checkout Carol Dweck’s groundbreaking software product and book Mindset: The New Psychologyof Success.

Part1: New Year Resolutions–What does Evidence -Based Research Reveal About Secrets of Willpower

The start of a New Year is always special. For me there is always a feeling of renewal as we look to a new year, a reflection back to the year that has passed and a new beginning. I have a sense of excitement for keeping things that are working, making changes or adopting new habits to make the year even better than the last year. However, do you ever find yourself making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals only to abandon them as the New Year tick docks away.

So I decided to check the research and selected the nationwide survey done in 2013 by Opinion Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey which I found to be very interesting and insightful on this topic of setting and completing resolutions. The bottom line is that 3 out of 4 people are not successful in completing their resolutions In addition, according to this research study, if you are happy you probably don’t set any resolutions. Unhappy people set resolutions more than happy especially in regard to money goals, 59% to 41%. So if you do not complete your goals for the New Year you are not alone.

So the question becomes what are some of the secrets and ways to set and fulfill your New Year Resolutions?

Studies now show that self-control is a limited resource that may be strengthened by the foods we eat. Laughter and conjuring up powerful memories may also help boost a person’s self-control. And, some research suggests, we can improve self-control through practice, testing ourselves on small tasks in order to strengthen our willpower for bigger challenges.

Learning to bring your behavior under control even with arbitrary rules does build character in that it makes you better able to achieve the things you want to achieve later on,” said Dr. Baumeister. “Self-control is a limited resource and is depleted more you use it.. People make all these different New Year’s resolutions, but they are all pulling off from the same pool of your willpower. It’s better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.”

In Part 2 on New Year Resolutions we will discuss techniques and tools to support your goal of personal change for 2014. Stay tune. Coach Mark