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Can grit impact our creativity?

September 2, 2014

Over the past decade, educators and researchers have identified “grit” as a trait that can significantly impact student achievement.  Recent studies, however, raise some questions about grit’s impact on student creativity.openhouseboy

As Sarah D. Sparks writes in ‘Grit’ May Not Spur Creative Success, Scholars Say in the August 20 edition of Education Week,  “Well-known studies by developmental psychologist Angela L. Duckworth and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a person’s ‘grit’—a measure of conscientiousness and perseverance—could predict everything from graduation rates at West Point to National Spelling Bee champions.

But, as Sparks point out in the same article, some scholars are now calling into question the impact of grit on the creative process.

One skeptic is Magdalena G. Grohman, the associate director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas. “When you look at it, these [areas studied by Ms. Duckworth] are well-defined areas and the rules for achievement are well-defined in those areas,” [Grohman] said. “We know what to do to get good grades, what to do to stay in military school, and what to do to win in contests such as spelling bees. The rules are pretty clear on what the achievement is and what success is in these domains. But what about creative achievement?”

Read more at Education Week. (Free registration may be required to read article in its entirety.)

Cannon School is a JrK – 12 independent school located in Concord, NC.

Screen limits

July 16, 2014

As parents and teachers, we all know that too much screen time is not a good thing.  And yet, many of us are so addicted to our own phones and tablets we hardly have the energy to monitor how our children are spending their time!

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Guess what?  Many of our children are spending too much time looking at screens.  Guess what else?  We, the adults in their lives, need to help them redirect their focus.  (For the record, the sad irony that I am sharing this information in an online blog post is not lost on me…so as soon as you finish reading this, put down your screen and go interact with your family!)

A recent post on our Facebook page (there’s that pesky irony again…) included a link to an article in Scientific America that spells out pretty clearly some of the benefits of reducing kids’ media time.

In  “Kids on Screen-Time Diet Lost Weight and Got Better Grades,” Douglas Gentile makes the case that parents (that’s us!) have a vital role to play in setting appropriate boundaries.

“Children whose parents set more limits on the amount and content of media were now getting more sleep, had gained less weight (lowering their risk of obesity), were getting better grades in school, exhibited more helpful and cooperative social behaviors in school, and were less aggressive with their peers (as seen by the classroom teachers),” Gentile writes.

Yikes!  I gotta get home to unplug a few things…

Read Gentile’s article and share any comments you have about his findings.  Even better, send us some suggestions for how we can set limits on our kids’ (and our OWN!) media intake.

Bill Diskin is director of admission and financial aid at Cannon School.  He can be reached at wdiskin@cannonschool.org.

 Cannon School is a JrK-12 independent school located in Concord, NC.

Teachers benefit from grit

July 14, 2014

We’ve explored the importance of grit a number of times over the past couple years — that sense of passion, perseverance, and stick-to-it-ness that can help ordinary students do extraordinary things.2014-07-08-TNTPFortWorth140_685x257-thumb

Now there’s some interesting research on how grit can enhance the work of teachers — especially first year teachers.

Betsy Aronson, in her TNTP blog post “Can Teachers Learn Grit?,” writes:

“Conversation around ‘character education‘ often includes questions of how we can support students to develop grit and why it’s important to do so, particularly in high-poverty schools. But the concept of cultivating grit in teachers is a new one for many of us.”

New concept or not, it makes sense that teachers sometimes need to dig deep to tap into the passion and strong will that led them to the classroom in the first place.   After all, nobody ever said that the world’s most important profession wouldn’t be without its challenges.

 

Cannon School is a JrK-12 independent school located in Concord, NC.

Cannon School graduates hear sincere message

May 27, 2014

(A similar version of the following story was originally published at DavidsonNews.Net and CorneliusNews.net)

by David Boraks

CONCORD - Seventy-six seniors of the Class of 2014 celebrated Cannon School’s 13th Upper School Commencement on Friday, May 23, 2014, at the school’s Poplar Tent Road campus.

NASCAR driver and Cannon parent Jeff Burton, delivered commencement address that urged graduates to be ready for a life of hard work.

Cannon School's class of 2014 with speaker Jeff Burton.

Cannon School’s class of 2014 with speaker Jeff Burton.

Jake Flynn of Davidson, son of Kristin and Brian Flynn, delivered Cannon’s valedictorian address. Vanessa Dane of Mooresville, daughter of Paula and Michael Dane, delivered the salutatorian address.

Burton is not only a Cannon parent, but along with wife Kim last year helped lead a $7 million campaign to build new arts and athletic facilities at the private school. He told graduates to dream, but be prepared to work.

“You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

He told the new graduates not to be afraid. “Every single failure – you’re going to have them – it’s an opportunity for an educational experience,” said Burton, who lives in Huntersville and drives for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Cannon School is a private independent school in Concord, with grades junior K through 12.  Its 900+ students come from Concord, Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville, Mooresville, Charlotte, the University City area, Kannapolis and Salisbury.

Cannon School Seeks Host Families

April 9, 2014

Cannon School’s international student program continues to attract students from around the world!

We hope your family will consider being a host family during the 2014-2015 school year.International students 2014

All of our international students are carefully screened and supported by well-established student placement agencies.

Each agency provides a local representative to support host families and the exchange student throughout the hosting experience. You may host a student for a semester or a full year.

Current host families are excited to share their thoughts on hosting with any family interested in learning more about the experience.

For 2014-2015, we are currently looking for host families for one female student and three male students. Both are in eleventh grade. These students are from China and Finland.

Interested in learning more? Please contact Bill Diskin, director of admission and financial aid, by e-mail or at 704-721-7164.

We hope you will consider becoming an international student host family today!

Cannon School is a JrK-Grade 12 independent school in Concord, NC.  Bill Diskin is Director of Admission and Financial Aid.  Follow his tweets @billdiskin.

 

That’s old school…

April 7, 2014

Think back to when we were in school.  Maybe think back as far as, say, 7th or 8th grade. (Was it the 1970’s? 1980’s?  If it was the 90’s please keep that to yourself!)

Now, try to make a list of 5 things that — while they seemed vital to the teaching and learning in our classrooms — have since become obsolete in today’s schools.

Did you mention filmstrips? (beep) Or card catalogs in the library? Wait — there was a library?

image courtesy of Ingvi Hranner

image courtesy of Ingvi Hranner

The point is, schools have changed.   And, thankfully,  schools are still changing.  These changes run deeper than the disappearance of black boards and dusty chalk.

Today’s best schools are learning environments (think open spaces, virtual studios, and “collaboratories”) where students and teachers explore, experiment, create, and discover.

Ingvi Hranner writes and blogs about education at his website.  One of his recent blog posts is entitled “14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools.”

It’s fascinating to consider how schools are changing.  Just as fascinating, though, is realizing how many schools are not changing enough.

How many items that you listed are included on Hranner’s list of 14?

Cannon School is a JrK-Grade 12 independent school in Concord, NC.  Bill Diskin is Director of Admission and Financial Aid.  Follow his tweets @billdiskin.

 

 

 

 

Poetry matters

April 4, 2014

It’s April — and that means the spotlight shines on poetry!  The annual celebration of National Poetry Month in the United States presents a perfect excuse to share the joys of poetry with children.

Children's Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt

Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed seeing students find their way with poetry.  Some children love it from the start.  Others resist it as something they don’t “get.”  Many, though, eventually do come around to an appreciation for poetry — if only because they get to play with language and try out playful forms and silly words.

Whatever other lofty curricular goals might be in play for a unit on poetry — one goal should always be for students to ENJOY it!

U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt, agrees.  “Nesbitt’s poems frequently deal with humorous, relatable situations that verge on the madcap,” says his Poetry Foundation bio.

Nesbitt is the author of numerous books of poetry for children, including The Armpit of Doom: Funny Poems for Kids (2013), The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World (2011), The Tighty-Whitey Spider(2010), Revenge of the Lunch Ladies (2007), Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney(2006), When the Teacher Isn’t Looking: And Other Funny School Poems (2005), and The Aliens Have Landed at Our School! (2001), among others.

Each month (even when it’s NOT April!!) Nesbitt shares lists of books at the Poetry Foundation web site.  Take a look.  Order a few from your local library or bookstore. What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month with your students and children?

Happy reading!

Cannon School is a JrK-Grade 12 independent school located in Concord, NC.

 

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