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Learn What You Live Posts

Is school compulsory? These are the options for your child’s education.

“You have to go to school, it’s the law.” I’m willing to bet you’ve heard someone say this. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. The thing is, it’s not quite true. The law does say that children of a certain age have to be educated, but going to school is only one way of doing that. So, if you’ve ever wondered ‘do I really have to go to school?’ or even ‘does my child have to go to school?’ then here’s the lowdown… What the law says (in the UK) It’s British law, so there’s bits and pieces about schooling…

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How to Make Your Ideas Stick

‘We began to see the same themes, the same attributes, reflected in a wide range of successful ideas. What we found based on Chip’s research – and by reviewing the research of dozens of folklorists, psychologists, educational researchers, political scientists, and proverb-hunters – was that sticky ideas shared certain key traits. There is no “formula” for a sticky idea – we don’t want to overstate the case. But sticky ideas do draw from a common set of traits, which make them more likely to succeed. It’s like discussing the attributes of a great basketball player. You can be pretty sure…

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It’s All About the Reading

‘The behavioural neurologist Norman Geschwind suggested that for most children myelination of the angular gyrus region was not sufficiently developed till school age – that is, between five and seven years. Geschwind also hypothesised that myelination in these critical cortical regions develops more slowly in some boys; this might be one reason why more boys are slower to read fluently than girls. To be sure, our own research on language finds that girls are faster than boys until around age eight on many timed naming tasks. Geschwind’s conclusions about when a child’s brain is sufficiently developed to read received support…

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Letting Go As Children Grow

‘My first daughter taught me a necessary lesson: she is able to signal when I am becoming over-involved in any aspect of her life, protect herself from my undue desire to control, and emerge with the skills she herself wants to pursue. She teaches me constantly that we are really on the same side. She wants to strike forward in life and fulfil herself, just as I would wish her to do, but she will move in her own time and from her own initiative. These days I try not to define success (or failure) in terms of the behavioural…

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The Power of a Growth Mindset

‘There’s another mindset in which … the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience. Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable);…

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Rosie Reads: Stargirl

‘She laughed when there was no joke. She danced when there was no music. She had no friends, yet she was the friendliest person in school. In her answers in class, she often spoke of sea horses and stars, but she did not know what a football was. She said there was no television in her house. She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to…

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Babies Really Don’t Sleep

‘The adult brain shuts down nightly, like an office block, for routine maintenance. In the newborn, the cleaners are wandering around all day long. The supervisor has gone missing. The technicians are reinstalling software and upgrading the phone system even as a poor drone is trying to work. For the neonate, this means that, whatever kind of consciousness she has, it is maintained more or less around the clock. As a result, her sleeping brain is very far from being cut off from what is going on around it. EEG studies have shown that newborns’ brains, unlike adults’, remain active…

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The Importance of Emotions in Education

‘Emotion, then, is a basic form of decision making, a repertoire of knowhow and actions that allows people to respond appropriately in different situations. The more advanced cognition becomes, the more high-level reasoning supports the customisation of these responses, both in thought and in action. With evolution and development, the specifications of conditions to which people respond, and the modes of response at their disposal, become increasingly nuanced. The more people develop and educate themselves, the more they refine their behavioural and cognitive options. In fact, one could argue that the chief purpose of education is to cultivate children’s building…

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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

‘Most of us assume that there exists a single thing called “motivation,” which people can have a lot of, a little of, or none of. Naturally, we want our kids to possess copious quantities of it, which is to say, we want them to be highly motivated to do their homework, to act responsible, and so forth. The trouble, though, is that there are actually different kinds of motivation. Most psychologists distinguish between the intrinsic kind and the extrinsic kind. Intrinsic motivation basically means that you like what you’re doing for it’s own sake, whereas extrinsic motivation means you do something as a…

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How experience changes the structure of the brain

‘A massive proliferation of synapses occurs during the first years of life. These connections are shaped by genes and chance as well as experience, with some aspects of ourselves being less amenable to the influence of experience than others. Our temperament, for example, has a nonexperiential basis; it is determined in large part by genes and by chance. For instance, we may have a robust approach to novelty and love to explore new things, or we may tend to hang back in response to new situations, needing to “warm up” before we can overcome our initial shyness. Such neural propensities…

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