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Learn What You Live Posts

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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The Classic View of Learning

‘The classic view of learning is encapsulated in seven words familiar to every speaker of English: You learn from the company you keep. You don’t learn by consciously modelling yourself on the company you keep, or by deliberately imitating other people. You become like them.  We all know this and organise our lives accordingly. I have found a similar proverb or saying in every language I have encountered. We take it for granted that the people around us influence the way we are. That is why the point of view is classic – we rarely think about the continual learning that…

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Our Story – Learn What You Live

Educational philosophy is big in home ed circles. It can be reassuring to hear ‘unschooling’, ‘Charlotte Mason’ or ‘Classical’ and feel like you have some idea where the friend you’ve just met is coming from and what their days look like. The truth is, of course, that we all make our own adjustments and few of us have days that pan out how we’d planned in advance anyway; so those quick descriptions are less helpful than you might hope. Back when we were first considering home education, I did some reading around early years philosophies. I read about Waldorf education;…


Spirit of Adventure

‘For curiosity, interest, and a longing to know more and more types of experience are the qualities that stimulate a desire to know about life and to understand it. They provide the zest that makes it possible to meet any situation as an adventure. Without that spirit of adventure, life can be a dull business. With it, there is no situation, however limiting, physically or economically, which cannot be filled to the brim with interest. Indeed, without interest, it is almost impossible to continue to learn; certainly, it is impossible to continue to grow. Now and then, I am surprised…

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How You Made Them Feel

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.’ This is widely attributed to Maya Angelou, though a bit of research suggests this is a misattribution, and actually it’s closest to something originally written by Carl Buehner. Either way, it isn’t hard to think of someone close to you and immediately conjure up the feeling of being with them, for good or ill. It succinctly reminds us of the way relationships and emotion colour every interaction we have.

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