We Need More Sleep

The last two weeks in our home have been hectic. We escorted our eldest daughter, Olivia, to her freshman year in college in Massachusetts and then returned to our Southern California home. You can imagine how the bittersweet emotions of joy, pride, and good-byes melded with fatigue and the need to recalibrate our family’s every day dynamics.

Because I allowed our high-school sophomore, to miss 3 days of school to accommodate this trip, it was her schedule that was most effected. Driven to stay with her full load of classes even while away, Eliza tried to defray her workload by studying late into the night at the hotel after spending the day attending the family’s new college events. Eliza’s sleep schedule suffered even more upon our return, propelled by the need to cram for the labs, quizzes, and projects due in her (yes, only 3-day) absence.

Confession… as a parent I echoed brain-based learning research and common sense by telling Eliza, “You really need to get to sleep. Your brain needs rest and cannot make any more connections when it’s tired….”

At the same time I was admiring her persistence, stubbornness, and drive.

Well, now she has an evil cold virus.

Through the Kleenexes and cough drops, we are putting other strategies in place to catch-up and avoid those late nights. Stay tuned to hear some of the failings and successes of these strategies.

Our recent struggles have made me think of this Boston Globe’s “We Need More Sleep” article, reminding us all why sleep is important. Note too that the American Academy of Pediatrics AAP Sleep Recommendation is now encouraging school late starts, to accommodate sleep health.

So, the bottom line, for a smart, healthy, and happy student. Let them sleep…

Hang Out With Smart Peers

Although this article speaks to college success, the same principal can be applied to K-12. Hang out with students and peers who are academic successes. Motivated, interested in learning.

 “A study in Southern India shows that high-performing roommates may have greater influence than friends or study partners. Success in college may take years of preparation, dedication, and hard work — but it also helps to have brainy roommates, a Stanford study suggests.”

Click here to read the article.




Self-Imposed Deadlines-Do They Work?

“Some early research found that imposing a deadline might at least be better than waiting until the last minute. In a 2002 study, researchers Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch hired 60 students to proofread three passages. Some of these test participants received a weekly deadline for each passage, some received one final deadline for all three, and some could choose their own deadline. The readers got a dime for every error they detected but were docked a dollar for every day they were late.

Despite the penalty, participants who imposed their own deadlines performed worse than those given evenly spaced weekly deadlines in terms of detecting errors, finishing near deadline, and generating money (see below). Then again they did better than those given one final deadline. Ariely and Wertenbroch concluded in the journal Psychological Science that self-imposed deadlines, while a reasonable strategy to curb procrastination, “were not always as effective as some external deadlines in boosting task performance.”

Click here to read article.



The Inverse Power of Praise

“When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

But a growing body of research—and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system—strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.”

Click here to read article.

Age of Distraction

“Digital classroom tools like computers, tablets and smartphones offer exciting opportunities to deepen learning through creativity, collaboration and connection, but those very devices can also be distracting to students. Similarly, parents complain that when students are required to complete homework assignments online, it’s a challenge for students to remain on task. The ubiquity of digital technology in all realms of life isn’t going away, but if students don’t learn how to concentrate and shut out distractions, research shows they’ll have a much harder time succeeding in almost every area.”

Click here to read article.


Perfectionism Can Suppress Creativity

Much in the same way the Stanford Design School (affectionately known as the “d.school”) founder and his brother have shown that creativity is oftentimes suppressed by a fear of failure Stanford d.school founder on creative confidence; you may also see this perfectionism stalling your child’s efforts with homework.

 If you’re the parent to whom you would describe as a very capable child, but your child is exhibiting a lack of desire to begin homework, takes too long to complete a “simple” task, or shows anxiety before tests, these could be indicators of perfectionism and/or fear of failure. Check out the article and see how these educators lead their students to a place where they are comfortable sharing their ideas.

Schools Kill Creativity – Sir Ken Robinson

I attended the Educause 2013 conference at the Anaheim Convention Center (October 15 to 18). It’s an education IT product and innovation gathering. I will share with you snippets of what I thought was most interesting in the next few submissions. I will focus on the keynote speaker today: Sir Ken Robinson. He is best known as having delivered the number ONE most viewed TED talk presentation ever: Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (2006): 19,698,951 Views

Sir Ken asked 3 questions:


Innovation stems from imagination and creativity. Imagination gives humans the capacity to dream up great ideas, and creativity allows them to enact them—to prove the value of those ideas. Of course, values are subjective. “Whose values do you apply when you’re judging creative work?” Robinson asks, noting that misunderstandings between cultures often involve one culture applying its values to the other.

Works of great value have, in the past, been initially ridiculed. Take, for instance, Edison’s invention of the phonograph. He wasn’t interested in recording music—he was trying to create a system for recording messages on the telephone, which nobody understood at the time why they would want to do that. When somebody proposed the idea for using it to play recorded music, he, likewise, didn’t understand why they’d want to do that. In a single example, the wrong sets of values were being applied in two different instances.

Are disruptive learning models being viewed with the right set of values?


Just as you have to know what values to apply to innovation, you must ask the right questions in order to spark the creativity that breeds it. In an example shown on the screens at either side of the stage, children were presented with an image of a triangle on an otherwise blank sheet of paper and told to finish the painting “the right way” to receive a point. Most children (80%) played it safe and drew a simple house, using an average of only two colors. When presented with the same sheet of paper and instructed only to complete the painting, the children’s images became more complex and creative, incorporating an average of five colors.

“One of the things we have to recognize about innovation and creativity is that creativity most often comes when people ask a different type of question,” Robinson said.

High levels of unemployed or under-employed graduates and ballooning student loan debt point to a significant change in the established model. The old model of “If you work hard and go to college, you will have a job for the rest of your life and everything will be great” simply isn’t true anymore, Robinson said—and not because kids aren’t as smart or hardworking as previous generations, but, at least in part, because the model has shifted.

“We need to recognize the citadel has been stormed here,” he said, referring to the ready online availability of many things kids want to learn and the declining value of a college degree. Referencing Anais Nin, Robinson suggests that the tipping point has been reached where education professionals must adapt and adopt a new model or face worse consequences. In order to innovate, they can’t take for granted that they know what the question is and accept living with an old answer.

“Even if we get it right and we meet these challenges, we still won’t be able to predict the future, but we will have a future and it will be a future worth living in.”

What is Your Family’s Grit Factor?

What’s the best predictor of success in a person’s life, including when it comes to goals in education? “Grit,” says psychologist Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth.

What is grit? Find out in her TED Talk, in which Duckworth explains that grit is a better indicator of personal  success than IQ, family income and other factors. Take the grit test yourself.

See her TED Talk about Grit.