Archive for March, 2020

BBC News: Coronavirus: The school of Mum and Dad

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

An article on BBC News (Coronavirus: The school of Mum and Dad by Jane Wakefield) prompted the following thoughts in applying YCISL principles and methodology to the disrupted education of many children.

Many parents may currently be seeking ways to sustain learning for their children amid school closures. In the past, there have been lengthy school holidays which may be filled with youth camps and special care programs. Currently, those are less likely of an option, and parents find themselves in the role of teacher.

One model would be to emulate a teacher and open up the textbooks and work from there. There are also online resources which could be good solutions. And…using YCISL type thinking…there is another possible route which focuses more on continuing the development of thinking skills rather than knowledge acquisition. Here are a few opportunities:

  1. Asking Questions. Children are generally taught in school to provide answers. Help them build skill and confidence in asking questions and consequently become a better active listener for interactive dialog. For a basic exercise, have your child listen to something (anything really: a video, you reading a book, a television show, a song, a poem, etc) , then have them ask or write down questions to prompt a conversation with you. Notice facial and tonal expressions that show interest, understanding, confidence and curiosity.
  2. Divergent-Convergent Thinking. Most of formal education is directed towards convergent thinking (often logical deductive reasoning). Help your child develop innovative thinking skills by practicing divergent thinking coupled with convergent thinking. For a basic exercise, choose something that you need to do (eg, make a sandwich), and have your child describe several ways it could be done. This technique could be applied to writing and math as well.
  3. Filling and Crossing Gaps. Schools move students through grades with knowledge gaps and those gaps become handicaps later on. However, most real world problems that need to be solved involve knowledge gaps and children should be prepared to fill or cross those gaps. For a basic exercise, ask your child to answer the question “how long does it take for an ice cube to melt?” But you didn’t mention whether it was indoors, outdoors, in summer/fall/winter/spring, or in your refrigerator/freezer (that was the missing information).
  4. Fast Creative Thinking. The homework, tests and exams most students experience utilize active recall usually on the order of hours, days, weeks, and months. For leadership and innovation thinking, fast thinking especially for creative thought needs to be strong. Encourage sprint-like, no self-editing thought collection using this basic exercise: find something that you would like to name, and write down every name that comes to mind (use sticky notes, a piece of paper, or a whiteboard). Catalog the ideas. Try the exercise again with a different something and aim for greater fluidity, greater output and capture speed, less self-doubt and less self-editing.
  5. Positive Thinking. Children have a positivity mindset that should be nurtured and kept resilient. The best leaders are able to frame positively and design programs that make their team positive through emotional intelligence and intrinsic motivation. A basic exercise could involve the practice of gratefulness: a well-known exercise for attaining more restful sleep is to think of something to be grateful for just before falling asleep. With your child, tell each other what you are grateful for at bedtime. Keep a log.

The five skills described support academic as well as professional and life achievement. They are valuable life lessons that are not a core part of any formal educational curriculum. As a parent, you have an opportunity to be a teacher/coach of these lifelong skills. Feel free to customize the exercises to situations that your family enjoys – to accommodate attention spans, energy levels and other uniqueness.