About This Site

12 08 2009

The Magic of Motivation

This site is dedicated to teachers, parents, employers, employees, students and anyone interested in motivating themselves and others.  If your desire is to ignite yourself and others to use their full potential this website will provide ideas, articles, quotes and book suggestions that may help.

 

If you want to visit a particular category use the category listing or use these links below:

–  For Parents contains resources for parents to encourage their children

For Teachers contains classroom ideas for classroom motivation

Gifted Education contains resources specifically for teachers and parents of gifted children

Self-motivation for Everyone contains ideas for students, employers and employees

Motivational Quotes contains uplifting, encouraging or kick-in-the-pants quotes to motivate

Resources contains books and articles with comments to help in the motivation process

Creativity contains ideas to ignite and inspire creative expression and productivity

Motivational Speaking Engagements contains an update on what Bob is doing

-Student Essays and Ideas contains quotes and writings of students

-View Bob’s website at http://odysseylearningadventures.com/





FIVE WAYS TO CREATE A STATE OF FLOW IN THE CLASSROOM

26 04 2015

by John Spencer

 from   http://www.spencerideas.org/2015/04/five-ways-to-create-state-of-flow-in.html

We’ve all seen it before. A student suddenly gets “in the zone” in the midst of a project. (It’s even better when it happens with an entire class.) Time seems to simultaneously slow down and yet speed up all at once. There’s a sense of challenge and urgency but also a sense of relaxation. You can feel it intuitively. Something is different.

This state of optimal concentration is often described as “flow.”

I experience this place most often in creative work. I get lost in what I’m doing. I seem to be “zoned in” to the code or the design or the plot structure. There’s a sense that everything just fits right. Unfortunately, I see this happen more outside of the classroom than inside of it. I see kids hitting a state of flow on the basketball court or in theater or at a skate park.

I like the way Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,  author of the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, describes what “flow” looks and feels like:

The flow experience is when a person is completely involved in what he or she is doing, when the concentration is very high, when the person knows moment by moment what the next steps should be, like if you are playing tennis, you know where you want the ball to go, if you are playing a musical instrument you know what notes you want to play, every millisecond, almost. And you get feedback to what you’re doing. That is, if you’re playing music, you can hear whether what you are trying to do is coming out right or in tennis you see where the ball goes and so on. So there’s concentration, clear goals, feedback, there is the feeling that what you can do is more or less in balance with what needs to be done, that is, challenges and skills are pretty much in balance.

So, I’ve been reading up on the theory of flow and consciously trying to create an environment where this happens in my classroom. I’m still learning. I’m still trying to figure this out. However, I’ve grown passionate about this topic over the last two years. With that in mind, I’ve found a few things that seem to work in my classroom:

1. Slow down. Provide longer learning opportunities with fewer interruptions.

In my first few years of teaching, I thought student engagement required an action-packed classroom. I didn’t realize that my frantic pace was actually getting in the way. Students never had the chance to focus in a leisurely, relaxed way. Since then, I’ve realized it’s less about action and more about suspense. If there’s a true challenge that feels meaningful to students, they are more likely to stay focussed and get lost in what they are doing.

2. Provide the right scaffolding as you match the challenge to the skill level.

One of the key ideas in flow theory is that the challenge has to match a student’s perceived ability level. Too often, kids give up because what they are doing is way too difficult and there is a sense that they will never learn it. Other times, students are bored and the excessive scaffolding becomes a hurdle they have to climb over. This is why I try and differentiate the scaffolding I offer by keeping it optional and treating it like something students can use rather than something they are required to use.

3. Provide boat loads of choices.

It’s not surprising that students hit a state of flow when they are out on the ball field or in a theater or while playing an instrument. Not only do they feel competent (because of the right amount of scaffolding) but they also love what they are doing. I can get lost in writing a novel. I will never get lost in the moment of fixing a sprinkler system. This is where student choice becomes so valuable. Students get to decide topics and tasks that fit their own interests.

4. Restrict the choices.

This is the opposite approach to the last one. It’s the idea that certain restrictions can lead to creative breakthroughs. I’ve seen students get into a place of flow because they are focussed on solving a problem using limited resources. Here, they discover that freedom and choice are not synonymous and that sometimes limitations lead to opportunities.

5. Integrate mindfulness and metacognition into the projects.

I want students to know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how they are doing. This begins with students internalizing a rationale for the project. It has to feel meaningful to them. However, it also requires a state of mindfulness in the moment. I want students to be able to figure out the progress they are making in the moment and adjust when needed.

Looking for More?





Make a Game Out of Learning But don’t gamify it.

7 04 2015

By

150401_FT_GameClassroom
Teachers predominantly use games as rewards or reinforcement, rather than starting points for learning.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Brad Flickinger/Flickr.

In MIT’s Education Arcade, classic game consoles line the office corridor; rafters are strung with holiday lights; and inflatable, stuffed, and papier-mâché creatures lurk around every corner. When I stopped by recently, the arcade’s director, Eric Klopfer, and creative director, Scot Osterweil, talked enthusiastically about the surging interest in educational video games, now used by nearly three-quarters of America’s grade-school teachers, according to one survey.

But these optimistic, play-loving game gurus have come to despise the biggest buzzword in their field: gamification. According to Osterweil and Klopfer, both MIT professors, gamification too often means “making a game out of learning,” in which players win points, magical powers, or some other reward for practicing math, spelling, or another school subject. Klopfer and Osterweil argue that the best educational games capture what’s already fun about learning and make that central to the game. Gamification undermines what they see as the real opportunity for games to radically, albeit playfully, transform education.

The arcade, part of MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program, partners with schools, gaming companies, and nonprofits to make educational video games. The staff also trains teachers to make their own games and to weave them into lesson plans, via on-campus courses and a new massive open online course, “Design and Development of Games for Learning,” that launches Wednesday.

“If somebody comes to me and says, ‘I want to make math fun,’ I don’t want to work with that person,” said Osterweil, “because they don’t think math is already fun.”

In gamified math, equations are often wedged into high-energy video worlds with wacky characters, points and player rankings, and maybe some explosions. It’s a model used by many popular educational games, such as Math Blaster, which has sold millions of copies and been reissued several times since it was introduced in 1983.

In Math Blaster, players fly space ships while math problems appear on the ships’ consoles and numbered asteroids hurtle toward them. If a console reads “15 – 7 = ?” and the ship’s laser guns fire at asteroid 5, nothing happens, except a red cabin light flashes to indicate a mistake. When correctly aimed at asteroid 8, the guns blast it out of the sky. Osterweil and Klopfer call games like this “drill and practice,” or “shooting flashcards.”

“This game isn’t telling you why you got a problem right or wrong or asking you to think about what arithmetic is,” Osterweil said in a video in their new MOOC. “If you’re good at arithmetic, Math Blaster’s fun, because it reinforces that you’re good at math. If you’re not understanding arithmetic, you’re getting nowhere with this.”

Back in the arcade offices, Klopfer said games that “make math fun” typically don’t require players to use math in any real sense. Instead, he said, “it’s ‘do some math so you get to shoot some asteroids.’ ”

Whenever the arcade team brainstorms a game, by contrast, it starts by finding people who are passionate about math, history, science, or any other subject and asks what drives and engages them.

“Maybe they love solving puzzles with math or experimenting with science,” said Klopfer. “Maybe they like how understanding math and science make the world seem different, or more comprehensible. Tap into that thing people already find interesting, and enhance it in the game.”

For instance, Education Arcade is now piloting The Radix Endeavor, a free, multiplayer online game designed to supplement high school math and science lessons. Based on conversations with working scientists and engineers, the game has players explore a fictional world called Ysola that’s ruled by evil, science-hoarding overlords called the Obfuscati. Players encounter Ysola’s beleaguered citizenry and embark on various quests while evading the Obfuscati, such as finding a cure for a deadly disease or using math to reinforce dangerously weak buildings.

“It’s not about solving this math problem, so you get a magic wand that can make this building stronger,” said Klopfer. “It’s figuring out how to learn the math, so you can use that understanding to keep the building from collapsing.”

A few years ago, Osterweil distilled what he calls the “four freedoms of play,” including freedom to experiment, freedom to fail, freedom to assume different identities, and freedom of effort (meaning the ability to mix full-throttle effort with periods of relaxation and disengagement). For Osterweil, these freedoms are about more than good game design.

“I argue that real learning happens in moments of playful exploration,” he said, “and all those freedoms should be present.”

Schools overemphasize the learning of facts and formulas, as well as the right answers for standardized tests, he said. Rather than changing that educational model, “bad ideas like gamification replicate it.”

The problem isn’t just the drill-and-practice design of many games, according to Klopfer. It’s also that teachers predominantly use games as rewards or reinforcement, rather than starting points for learning.

“The game should be an experience, where kids get to explore and problem-solve,” Klopfer said. “Then a teacher or a peer can help them make the connection between the game experience and concepts that can be generally applied.”

Along with games, the Education Arcade creates optional lesson plans, online forums, blogs, and one-day teacher training sessions, all to help bridge game learning with other classroom instruction.

Mark Knapp was teaching biology in the Boston public schools in 2012 when he heard about the Education Arcade’s plans for Radix and volunteered to be one of the teachers who helped with the game’s development. Knapp said Radix isn’t a substitute for the science curriculum he covers. What the game does do, he said, “is get kids interested in how scientist think and solve problems.” Since 2014, Knapp has been teaching kids with special needs in grades six through 12, and continues to useRadix in class.

“There are so many little skills, like dealing with frustration, that these kids are also getting from this game,” he said. “I can see kids becoming less frustrated with stuff they don’t understand. That’s really important for any student.”

Klopfer doesn’t think games should be the only way kids learn in school. “There are lots of other things to do in school: dialogues with peers, solving problems, building things. Sometimes, even lectures are helpful,” he said. “But there are aspects of good games that work well in school, even if they’re not part of a game.”

“I agree,” said Osterweil. “There should still be rigor, and kids should be guided to explore topics they may not have known they were interested in. But, learning should still be damn near all play, all the time.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about Blended Learning.





16 Ways to Motivate Anyone

29 03 2015

By Todd B Kashdan Ph.D. | Mar 26, 2015

Synopsis

Moving beyond the notion of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

Siblings punch each other. It is a moral imperative to determine that day’s victor. As welts begin to form, as bruises begin to darken, as blood drenches the carpet, at some point, parents must intervene. How do you motivate a child to act more kindly to their biological roommate?

Employees will perform exceptionally. And when they do, how will you reward them as a sign of appreciation? How can you reward them in a way that sustains their momentum?

The majority of books on leadershipparenting, and psychology divide motivation into two types: extrinsic and intrinsic. This is a simple bullet point that offers a lot of mileage. We can consider the content of goals and the reasons for pursuing goals. For instance, your goals might be driven by “extrinsic” goal content (financial success, appearing attractive to others, being known or admired by many people) or “intrinsic” goal content (being fulfilled and having a very meaningful life, having close and caring relationships with others).  In several studies, scientists have shown that people who prioritize intrinsic over extrinsic goal content experience greater well-being. If people feel that they are the author of their own lives, pursuing goals that derive from deeply held interests (intrinsic), they devote more effort to these pursuits and end up more successful. In contrast, people who feel they are being controlled, following the rules and obligations held by others (extrinsic), show less persistence in pursuing their goals.

All of this makes sense and is based on sound research. I am suggesting that it is time to move to the next level. It is time to appreciate the complexity of how to motivate human beings. Knowing what motivates others is essential to establishing and maintaining effective relationships. This is going to sound trivial and obvious but nearly every person is motivated by different needs, at varying degrees, and at different times. If we want to influence and persuade other people, we need to know how a person priortizes their needs. A point expressed by Stephen Covey in his bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own efforts. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”

Mix these characters up, treat them all the same, and your influence is going to be unimpressive. The amount of pleasure and meaning that we experience in our lives can be traced to how effectively basic needs are satisfied. Reflect on these 3 questions for a moment.

1) What drives YOU to put in your best effort at work?

2) Would you work if you didn’t have to?

3) Is the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation enough to describe you or anyone else?

My guess is the answer to this last question is no. Deciding on whether to wake up at 6:30 A.M. for breakfast with two friendly and highly successful colleagues, my hope is that you could clarify the motives for going. A desire to form a deep connection? Curiosity about where the conversation might lead and what you could learn? An opportunity to showcase your creativity and intelligence? Don’t think of it as a battle between motives, instead, think of how you priortize them. Just as you can rank-order your motivation for waking up early to attend this social gathering, you can learn what needs your employee is trying to satisfy (that makes them tick), and how to get your kids attention.

In the pursuit of a rich, meaningful life, there is a growing body of science suggesting that our greatest values guide our behavior. Psychologist Steven Reiss argues that there are 16 core values/desires/motives. Knowing how we priortize them and how others do the same can explain a lot about why we do the things we do. More importantly, knowing how these 16 basic values are priortized can help us to motivate other people–whether we are interested in rewards or punishments. Here are the 16 in no particular order:

 

CURIOSITY – The desire for knowledge and experience.

ACCEPTANCE – The desire for inclusion.

ORDER – The desire for organization.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – The desire for the exercise of muscles.

HONOR – The desire to be loyal to one’s parents and heritage.

POWER – The desire to influence others.

INDEPENDENCE – The desire for self-reliance.

SOCIAL CONTACT – The desire for companionship.

FAMILY – The desire to raise one’s own children.

STATUS – The desire for social standing.

IDEALISM – The desire for social justice.

VENGEANCE – The desire to get even.

ROMANCE – The desire for intimate connection, sensuality, and sexuality.

EATING – The desire to consume food.

SAVING – The desire to collect things.

TRANQUILITY – The desire for emotional calm.

Just remember

  • People act in ways that express their values
  • Values predict behavior
  • People are not necessarily aware of their values
  • How we priortize values can change over time

If you truly want to motivate other people, learn about what motivates them. The values that describe someone best offer insight into the best way to mobilize their energy. Forego global, simple solutions.

To dig deeper, check out:

Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin22, 280-287.

Reiss, S. (2004). Multifaceted nature of intrinsic motivation: The theory of 16 basic desires. Review of General Psychology8(3), 179-193.

Reiss, S., & Havercamp, S. (1996). The sensitivity theory of motivation: Implications for psychopathology. Behaviour Research and Therapy34, 621-632.

Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R., Deci, E., & Kasser, T. (2004). The independent effects of goal contents and motives on well-being: It’s both what you pursue and why you pursue it. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 475-486.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan is a public speaker, psychologist, and professor of psychology and senior scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University.  His new book, The upside of your dark side: Why being your whole self – not just your “good” self – drives success and fulfillment is available from Amazon , Barnes & Noble , Booksamillion , Powell’s or Indie Bound. If you’re interested in speaking engagements or workshops, go to: toddkashdan.com.

– See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/16_ways_to_motivate_anyone#sthash.jrDdu9Js.tVWA5Gw7.dpuf





Top 50 Chess Quotes of All Time

25 03 2015
E-mail
Written by Yury Markushin
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00
50 greatest chess quotes of all time

Great quotes store big and important ideas in just a few words. They transport wisdom that great chess players have accumulated throughout decades of experience.This list of quotes is for those who is aiming for big success. These quotes will both motivate and educate you for becoming a better chess player.

1. “By the time a player becomes a Grandmaster, almost all of his training time is dedicated to work on this first phase. The opening is the only phase that holds out the potential for true creativity and doing something entirely new.” – Garry Kasparov
2. “When your house is on fire, you can’t be bothered with the neighbors. Or, as we say in chess, if your King is under attack, don’t worry about losing a pawn on the queenside.” – Garry Kasparov
kasparov
3. “By strictly observing Botvinnik’s rule regarding the thorough analysis of one’s own games, with the years I have come to realize that this provides the foundation for the continuos development of chess mastery.” – Garry Kasparov

4. “Chess continues to advance over time, so the players of the future will inevitably surpass me in the quality of their play, assuming the rules and regulations allow them to play serious chess. But it will likely be a long time before anyone spends 20 consecutive years as number, one as I did.” – Garry Kasparov
5. “You can’t overestimate the importance of psychology in chess, and as much as some players try to downplay it, I believe that winning requires a constant and strong psychology not just at the board but in every aspect of your life.” – Garry Kasparov

6. “I … have two vocations: chess and engineering. If I played chess only, I believe that my success would not have been significantly greater. I can play chess well only when I have fully convalesced from chess and when the ‘hunger for chess’ once more awakens within me.”  – Mikhail Botvinnik

7. “If you are going to make your mark among masters, you have to work far harder and more intensively, or, to put it more exactly, the work is far more complex than that needed to gain the title of Master.” – Mikhail Botvinnik

8. “Above all else, before playing in competitions a player must have regard to his health, for if he is suffering from ill-health he cannot hope for success. In this connection the best of all tonics is 15 to 20 days in the fresh air, in the country.”  – Mikhail Botvinnik

botvinnik

Note: If you want to dramatically improve your chess simply studying Grandmaster’s games or solving tactics it not enough. In order to take your chess to the whole new level you need to work on all aspects of the game. That’s what we call a “combined approach”. We will combine 5 most important elements of chess into a single training session to build a good training habits and to make sure you can get out maximum results in minimum amount of time. You will get a access to 3 weeks of trainingwhere you will learn:

  • Tactics
  • Positional play
  • Attack on the king
  • Endgame technique
  • Classical games analysis
  • Training secrets, self-evaluation, blunder avoidance
  • and much more

9. “If you are weak in the endgame, you must spend more time analysing studies; in your training games you must aim at transposing to endgames, which will help you to acquire the requisite experience.” – Mikhail Botvinnik

10. “My forte was the middlegame. I had a good feeling for the critical moments of the play. This undoubtedly compensated for my lack of opening preparation and, possibly, not altogether perfect play in the endgame. In my games things often did not reach the endgame!” – Boris Spassky

11. “The shortcoming of hanging pawns is that they present a convenient target for attack. As the exchange of men proceeds, their potential strength lessens and during the endgame they turn out, as a rule, to be weak.” – Boris Spassky

12. “Of course, analysis can sometimes give more accurate results than intuition but usually it’s just a lot of work. I normally do what my intuition tells me to do. Most of the time spent thinking is just to double-check.” – Magnus Carlsen

13. “I started by just sitting by the chessboard exploring things. I didn’t even have books at first, and I just played by myself. I learnt a lot from that, and I feel that it is a big reason why I now have a good intuitive understanding of chess.” – Magnus Carlsen

carlsen

14. “Self-confidence is very important. If you don’t think you can win, you will take cowardly decisions in the crucial moments, out of sheer respect for your opponent. You see the opportunity but also greater limitations than you should. I have always believed in what I do on the chessboard, even when I had no objective reason to. It is better to overestimate your prospects than underestimate them.” – Magnus Carlsen

15. “I didn’t picture myself as even a grandmaster, to say nothing of aspiring to the chess crown. This was not because I was timid – I wasn’t – but because I simply lived in one world, and the grandmasters existed in a completely different one. People like that were not really even people, but like gods or mythical heroes.” – Anatoly Karpov

16. “By all means examine the games of the great chess players, but don’t swallow them whole. Their games are valuable not for their separate moves, but for their vision of chess, their way of thinking.” – Anatoly Karpov

karpov

17. “The great mobility of the King forms one of the chief characteristics of all endgame strategy. In the middlegame the King is a mere “super”, in the endgame on the other hand – on of the “principals”. We must therefore develop him, bring him nearer to the fighting line.” – Aron Nimzowitsch

18. “If in a battle, I seize a bit of debatable land with a handful of soldiers, without having done anything to prevent an enemy bombardment of the position, would it ever occur to me to speak of a conquest of the terrain in question? Obviously not. Then why should I do so in chess?” – Aron Nimzowitsch

19. “When I today ask myself whence I got the moral courage, for it takes moral courage to make a move (or form a plan) running counter to all tradition, I think I may say in answer, that it was only my intense preoccupation with the problem of the blockade which helped me to do so.” – Aron Nimzowitsch

20. “It is a well known phenomenon that the same amateur who can conduct the middle game quite creditably, is usually perfectly helpless in the end game. One of the principal requisites of good chess is the ability to treat both the middle and end game equally well.” – Aron Nimzowitsch

21. “In mathematics, if I find a new approach to a problem, another mathematician might claim that he has a better, more elegant solution. In chess, if anybody claims he is better than I, I can checkmate him.” – Emanuel Lasker

22. “By positional play a master tries to prove and exploit true values, whereas by combinations he seeks to refute false values … A combination produces an unexpected re-assessment of values.” – Emanuel Lasker

23. “He who has a slight disadvantage plays more attentively, inventively and more boldly than his antagonist who either takes it easy or aspires after too much. Thus a slight disadvantage is very frequently seen to convert into a good, solid advantage.” – Emanuel Lasker

24. “A player, as the world believed he was, he was not, his studious temperament made that impossible; and thus he was conquered by a player and in the end little valued by the world, he died.” – Emanuel Lasker

25. “It is no secret that any talented player must in his soul be an artist, and what could be dearer to his heart and soul than the victory of the subtle forces of reason over crude material strength! Probably everyone has his own reason for liking the King`s Gambit, but my love for it can be seen in precisely those terms.” – David Bronstein

26. “It is annoying that the rules of chess do not allow a pawn to take either horizontally or backwards, but only forwards … This psychological tuning is ideal for attacking purposes, but what about for defence?”  – David Bronstein

27. “If you have made a mistake or committed an inaccuracy there is no need to become annoyed and to think that everything is lost. You have to reorientate yourself quickly and find a new plan in the new situation.” – David Bronstein

28. “When you play against an experienced opponent who exploits all the defensive resources at his command you sometimes have to walk time and again, along the narrow path of ‘the only move’.” – David Bronstein

29. “Chess is not for the faint-hearted; it absorbs a person entirely. To get to the bottom of this game, he has to give himself up into slavery. Chess is difficult, it demands work, serious reflection and zealous research.” – Wilhelm Steinitz

30. “The task of the positional player is systematically to accumulate slight advantages and try to convert temporary advantages into permanent ones, otherwise the player with the better position runs the risk of losing it.” – Wilhelm Steinitz

31. “Whenever Black succeeds in assuming the initiative and maintaining it to a successful conclusion, the sporting spirit of the chess lover feels gratified, because it shows that the resources of the game are far from being exhausted.” – Savielly Tartakower

32. “No one ever won a game by resigning.” – Savielly Tartakower

33. “It is always better to sacrifice your opponents’ men.” – Savielly Tartakower

34. “The blunders are all there on the board, waiting to be made.” – Savielly Tartakower

35. “A thorough understanding of the typical mating continuations makes the most complicated sacrificial combinations leading up to them not only difficult, but almost a matter of course.” – Savielly Tartakower

fischer

36. “All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.” – Bobby Fischer

37.
“A strong memory, concentration, imagination, and a strong will is required to become a great chess player.”  – Bobby Fischer

38. “Tactics flow from a superior position.”  – Bobby Fischer

39. “To play for a draw, at any rate with white, is to some degree a crime against chess.” – Mikhail Tal

40. “I have always thought it a matter of honour for every chess player to deserve the smile of fortune.” – Mikhail Tal

41. “Naturally, the psychological susceptibility of a match participant is significantly higher than a participant in a tournament, since each game substantially changes the over-all position.” – Mikhail Tal

42. “I go over many games collections and pick up something from the style of each player.” – Mikhail Tal

43. “Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation.” – Max Euwe

euwe

44.
“If it is true that a player’s style is his person, then everyone plays as he is intended to by nature. I am naturally cautious, and I altogether dislike situations which involve risk.” – Tigran Petrosian

45. “In almost any position the boundless possibilities of chess enable a new or at least a little-studied continuation to be found.” – Tigran Petrosian

46. “They knock me for my draws, for my style, they knock me for everything I do.” – Tigran Petrosian

47. “Even the most distinguished players have in their careers experienced severe disappointments due to ignorance of the best lines or suspension of their own common sense.” – Tigran Petrosian

48. “In some places words have been replaced by symbols which, like amulets from a witch’s bag, have the power to consume the living spirit of chess.” – Tigran Petrosian

49. “It is easy to play against the young players, for me they are like an open book.” – Tigran Petrosian

50. “They knock me for my draws, for my style, they knock me for everything I do.” – Tigran Petrosian





The Genius Of Raising Brilliant Kids: A Conversation With Jack Andraka’s Parents

19 03 2015

Jack Andraka at The White House

He’s just an everyday kid, 16 year-old Jack Andraka

He’s the son of an engineer and anesthetist who has vaulted his way onto the main stage of science and innovation. Jack’s work on developing a rapid, highly sensitive and inexpensive test for cancer has made headlines around the world. I interviewed Jack in Feburary and Forbes editor Bruce Upbin profiled his innovations in June 2012. Over the past few months Jack has traveled the world, rubbing shoulders with political and scientific dignitaries at such distinguished places such as TED Conferences, The Royal Society of Medicine in London and even The White House.

But with all the news and excitement about Jack’s scientific achievement, I was interested in learning what really drove him and more about two of the proudest people on the planet–his parents, Steve and Jane Andraka. As it turns out, this story isn’t only about Jack (and his parents). But about the entire family and how Steve and Jane raised two remarkable boys. While Jack has taken the spotlight recently, his older brother Luke has made quite a name for himself. Luke, 18 years old, was the 4th place national winner of the SSP middle school science competition, MIT Think Award winner, 2 time Intel science fair finalist and winner of the $96,000 Sierra Nevada Scholarship at the Intel science fair for his method of treating acid mine drainage.

The Andraka children seemed to be on to something. And that something apparently hinged, in part, upon one key insight from Steve Andraka, ”Teach your kids that most problems in this world are really opportunities in disguise, and innovation comes from discontent.”
Another Andraka family adventure

I had the chance to speak with Mr. and Mrs. Andraka and found the entire conversation fascinating and enlightening. They broke down their success into two sections–logical and practical. So, moms and dads, here you go…

The ‘theory’ of raising brilliant kids

Independent learning. I almost always have them learn by doing and by making controlled mistakes. And in the process, they think through the problem. When they are stuck on a problem I come over and make them show me what they have done and most of the time they find their problem by just explaining to me what they have done. By explaining things, it makes them think deeper about it and this works with almost all of their problems.

A single-minded focus. Focusing on a particular project is very important in achieving higher goals. When you focus just on a specific goal or problem and ‘wrap your head around the goal’ it opens up all kinds of creativity and problem solving. It’s amazing when a child goes from a feeling of powerlessness to one of mastery.

Engage in your child’s project–even if it’s over your head. Both our children have eclipsed us in knowledge on specific topics and also with their mathematical skills. However growing up they have always known Dad to be the one who can help them with their Math. So, I follow along, ask questions and let the textbook guide some of our discussions. Essentially, I give support, show interest and direct them to use other resources. However, I always try to follow up with them and have them explain their progress. I found that showing an interest by listening, asking questions, encouraging research and reporting back teaches them to solve their questions, encourages them and teaches me something too. When the roles are reversed–I become the student and my child becomes the teacher–I know it’s a success.

Limit rules, encourage independence. We have ‘minimal rules’, but nothing that stifles creativity. Basically, you can sum it up simply: treat people with respect, do your homework be honest and try to be safe. Having too many rules burdens down the entire family and limits thinking.

The ‘practice’ of raising brilliant kids

Theory is fine for the text books. But Steve and Jane offered up some ‘rules to live by’ to help guide every mom and dad that wants to have their child to end up speaking or living in The White House.

Have your child do the thinking, limit how much you do for them in solving a problem. If you are the person wrapping your head around the problem and solving it, your child isn’t.

Ask as many questions as they ask you. With the wealth of knowledge on the internet have them start looking up answers and doing research.

Get them involved with the right peer activities. If they have a competitive side, encourage them to compete on math team or debate team or art competitions. Winning in these type things boosts self esteem. Also, see what other higher level competitions exist. Often, the school may not even know about these other competition. Remember, you are you child’s best advocate and resource. Don’t wait for the school to present your child with opportunities

Model the result you want.

Build things and be creative! It’s not all crunching numbers.
Be involved and stay connected. Every day we ask our children what they did in school.

We also use the parent connect tool to always know how they are doing and to say on top of issues and challenges.
Set early expectations. Our kids know that they are going to college. They have known this since they were in elementary school. We have bookcases of college guides, books on best colleges, how to get in certain schools and other information. It’s a process that starts early.
Success needs to be a shared goal–shared by the family and celebrated by the family. If your child is finding success in an area that you may not be familiar with, you still must encourage and support them. Success brings confidence and your support means everything.
Live outside the box. Petty rules stifle creativity. You can tell you child to think outside of the box, but if you have boxed them in their entire life, they have no creative reference point to begin with.
Teach your kids that most problems in this world are really opportunities in disguise. Innovation comes from discontent. Start when your child is young and keep a list of problems to be pondered or solved. Then, when it is time to do a science fair or other project, you’re ready to go! That’s been very successful for both our children.

Unlocking the genius within?

It seems obvious to me that empowerment is central to this family. Throughout their lives, Jack and Luke’s parents provided the tools needed to unleash their creative potential. This was done, step by step, methodically – yet never in a stifling way. They provided the resources and their children stepped up to the challenge and discovered a worthy purpose. We are now all the beneficiaries of the Andrakas’ excellence in parenting – and for their impact on the world of science and medicine.

To date, Jack and Luke show no sign of slowing down! Jack is a sophomore at North county High school, however he has been spending a lot of time out of school with speaking engagements and working on his next project. Jack is very self disciplined and has been able to self study most of the material that he would be doing in the class room and keep up with the homework. He then takes the tests when he is in school. Jack is reviewing his options for finishing his high school and is being courted by colleges. Luke is a senior at North County High School, and will be graduated this June. He has been accepted by Virginia Tech in their engineering program where he plans to pursue a degree in materials engineering.





Instill a Love of Math

22 02 2015

By Laura Lewis Brown

Family playing checkersParents are bombarded with messages to read with their children, but it’s rare to hear about the importance of doing math with them. Here are some helpful tips on why and how to instill a love of math in your children.

Early Math Matters
We may take for granted that our children will inevitably learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, but early math lessons establish the base for the rest of their thinking lives. “Mathematics that kids are doing in kindergarten, first, second and third grades lays the foundation for the work they are going to do beyond that,” says Linda Gojak, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). “They are learning beyond just counting and numbers.” That’s why it’s so important to help children love math while they are still young. Parents can build on those first preschool lessons by counting with their children, asking them to look for patterns and recognize shapes, then moving on to numbers, Gojak says.

The goal should be to make math “real” and meaningful by pointing it out in the world around you. That could include checking and comparing prices at the grocery store, driving down the street counting mailboxes, reading recipes, calculating coupons, or even measuring food or drink at the dinner table. Kevin Mahoney, math curriculum coordinator at Pennacre Country Day School in Wellesley, Mass., says when his children were little, his wife kept a small measuring tape in her pocketbook. While they were waiting for their order at a restaurant, the children would measure different items on the table.

Just as you encourage your early reader to look for familiar letters, ask your child to watch for math, regarding math as highly as you do reading. “Every parent knows that it’s a good idea to read to your child every night, but they should also realize the importance of talking about mathematical situations with children every day,” says Mahoney.

So What If It’s Hard?
What if you hated math as a child? Parents should try to set aside their distaste for math and encourage their children as much as possible. Young children are eager to learn. “It’s hard to learn to talk or walk. But they don’t care,” says Sue VanHattum, a community college math teacher in Richmond, Ca., who blogs about math learning on http://www.mathmamawrites.blogspot.com. “They just push themselves over their limits. They are going to come at math with that same attitude.”

Avoid talking negatively about math, even if you have no need for trigonometry in your daily life. “A lot of people will only joke that they cannot do math or announce publicly, ‘I’m not a math person.’ When a parent does that in front of a child, it suggests that math’s not important,” says Char Forsten, education consultant and writer, who urges parents to create that desire to learn by constantly screening the environment for math. “Have you seen any good math lately?” she likes to ask students.

If your child believes that math doesn’t really matter, he’s not going to be as open to learn. “Attitude has everything to do with learning. You can’t make anyone learn. If a child has learned not to love math, if they don’t love math, and aren’t willing to learn, you have to deal with that first,” Forsten says.

If you are stuck on how to foster math enthusiasm, talk to your child’s teacher about some ways to support math learning at home. There may be a new game that you have never heard of, which both you and your child will love.

Play Games
With so many facts and figures to memorize and apply to math problems, children learn early that math is something that requires work. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun; keep the pleasure in math by playing games with your children. Many games, even the ones adults play, rely on math. With countless websites, computer games and phone apps, parents have endless options, but don’t forget about the nondigital games you loved as a child. The classics that require manipulating cards and game pieces, calculating along the way, may have the same appeal for your kids as they did for you. One game worth considering is Chutes and Ladders. A 2009 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon and the University of Maryland found that preschoolers who played the game improved math skills significantly compared to those in the study who played a different board game or did nonmath tasks.

As you play with your kids, try to tap into your own love for math. When you play Trivial Pursuit, you are using math to determine how many spaces you need to get to the next wedge or predict which category you can answer best. The game doesn’t have to be about math, but should involve it. If you have a good game store in your area, stop by and ask the salespeople for help. Some of VanHattum’s favorite games really push logic, which is the basis of math, and get children thinking visually. Check out Link, SET, Rush Hour, Blokus and Spot It, to name a few.

“Playing games is a great family activity,” VanHattum says. “The more you have a tradition of playing games, the easier it is to bring in other games you like.” So while you may not be passionate about your child’s latest board game, you can work up to another game you like. Try to make the game personal to your family by playing it in your own special way. “Mathematicians make up their own rules,” VanHattum says. “It’s really important to be open to making up your own games. Change the rules. ‘In our family, we play the game this way.’”

Flexing Math Muscles
Riding a bike, swimming in the deep end, and playing an instrument are just examples of our favorite childhood activities that require practice to master. So does math.

“Math is an intellectual muscle building; it’s crucial for fully developing a child’s potential,” Mahoney says. “Those muscles can atrophy. If school is the only place you do math, then it becomes something you only do at school. Then you don’t even think about using it in real life.” So brush off those negative feelings about math and instill enthusiasm. Math will play a role in your child’s life forever.

“It’s important to remember that those basics are essential for later learning. A lot of the stuff we learn in math we apply in different ways later,” says Gojak, who emphasizes the thinking skills that math provides. “I might not have to worry about what an isosceles triangle is, but it’s still an important part of education.”

As they grow, kids will learn that they are willing to work hard at something they love. It may just be math. Either way, remember that your child does not have to excel at math to enjoy it. “It doesn’t matter if they’re good, it matters whether they like it,” VanHattum says.

Add Math to Everyday Fun with these Activities:





The real reason why the US is falling behind in math

16 02 2015

By Tara Holm FEBRUARY 12, 2015

If my seatmate on an airplane asks me what I do for a living, I tell the truth: I’m a mathematician. This generally triggers one of two responses. Either I’m told that I must be brilliant. . . or I hear about the person’s inability to balance a checkbook. The truth is, I’m not brilliant, just persistent, and I hate balancing my checkbook. Both responses, however, point to a fundamental misunderstanding about what mathematics is supposed to do and its current — and unfortunate — trajectory in American education.

Calculators have long since overthrown the need to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division by hand. We still teach this basic arithmetic, though, because we want students to grasp the contours of numbers and look for patterns, to have a sense of what the right answer might be. But what happens next in most schools is the road ­to ­math­ Hades: the single ­file death march that leads towards calculus.  We are pretty much the only country on the planet that teaches math this way, where students are forced to memorize formulas and procedures. And so kids miss the more organic experience of playing with mathematical puzzles, experimenting and searching for patterns, finding delight in their own discoveries. Most students learn to detest — or at best, endure — math, and this is why our students are falling behind their international peers.

When students memorize the Pythagorean theorem or the quadratic formula and apply it with slightly different numbers, they actually get worse at the bigger picture. Our brains are slow to recognize information when it is out of context. This is why realworld math problems are so much harder — and more fascinating — than the contrived textbook exercises. What I’ve found instead is that a student who has developed the ability to turn a realworld scenario into a mathematical problem, who is alert to false reasoning, and who can manipulate numbers and equations is likely far better prepared for college math than a student who has experienced a year of rote calculus.

What can we do as parents? At my house, we sometimes talk through simple logic puzzles over dinner. There are lots of good examples on the Internet, even pirate puzzles to please my son. Sudoku, despite claims to the contrary, is all about logical problem solving. Or how about family board games night once a week? I’m not talking Candyland­style games, all luck and no skill. Some favorites in my household include logic puzzles like Rush Hour and board games like TransAmerica, Clue, and Carcassonne. Of course,there’s also always checkers and chess. These games teach kids to think logically several steps ahead, all while having fun. And they are far more effective than the SAT prep booklets which litter the homes of high school juniors each year. I’m not down on mathematical training. I’m just down on the persistent memorization approach, which works your intellectual muscles about as effectively as lifting loaves of Wonder Bread helps build your biceps. We are failing our children if all we teach them are dry formulas. The benefits just don’t add up.

Tara Holm is an associate professor of math at Cornell University and a 2015 public voices fellow of the OpEd Project.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers