Sunday, November 18, 2012

Inspiration - Dr. Ginsberg Style

On Wednesday night, my best friend invited me to her school to listen to Dr. Ginsberg speak. My friend and her colleagues went to Stanford University 2 summers ago to an education conference and that is where they heard him for the first time. They loved his message so much, the spent these last 2 years raising money to get him to come to their school.

Dr. Ginsberg is a pediatrician as well as a Professor of Pediatrics at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. He also serves as Director of Health Services at Covenant House Pennsylvania, an agency that serves Philadelphia’s homeless and marginalized youth.

Dr. Ginsberg “works to translate the best of what is known from research and practice into practical approaches parents, professionals and communities can use to build resilience in children and teens”.

He has a great website called Fostering Resilience if you want to read more about Dr. Ginsberg.

This is what I took away from the evening.

As an educator. 

Perfectionism will destroy a students' success. The more we push kids to get perfect scores and high GPA’s the more we are creating kids that fear a B+, cannot think outside of the box,  have no creativity and resent constructive criticism. If all a student is worried about is the grade then they will only do what it takes to get that grade, no more, no less. Dr. Ginsberg explained this with research that was done. A teacher had 2 classes, 1 class was continually told how smart they were and the other class was praised for their hard work and effort. When the smart class got the grade they needed and were praised for being smart, when asked to do more and take more tests they declined. They did not want to do anymore because they got what they needed and they feared losing that label and grade. The class that was praised for their hard work and effort continually took tests and worked hard and felt good about the work they did, not the grades they got. In the end the kids that were labeled “smart” had over all grades that went down by 20% and the kids that were labeled “hard workers” had grades that increased by 20%.

As a parent.

We as parents should have unconditional love for our children, not high expectations. We need to ask them how they are doing, not what are they doing. 

When it comes to school we need to praise the effort and process rather than the results. We need to focus on their strengths. If their effort did not produce the grade you hoped for then rather than nag you need to talk to the child about how they feel about their effort preparing for that test. If the child feels like they did everything they could then you need to praise their effort, but at the same time try to get them to figure out if there is any more they could do for the next test. It is important that the child owns their thoughts, they must figure out if there is something else or more they can do. Once they own it, they will do it, but if you tell them what they need to do, they don’t buy into it and they will do it but because it wasn’t their idea it probably won’t make that much of a difference.

A big reason for so many bad test takers (aside from those kids and parents that really just don’t care) is the child is so nervous or anxious about disappointing their parents with a bad grade the anxiety within their body takes over and their mind does not work to its full capacity. You see, it is the emphasis on the grade that is causing the child to do so poorly. Dr. Ginsberg explained it like this. Your body was made for flight in stressful, anxious situations, your heart beats faster, your blood pumps faster and your body prepares you to run and your mind does not have time to think. Being anxious in a testing situation your body reacts in the same way, but instead of running you are confined to your seat and you demand your brain to work, which it does, but not to its fullest potential.

We as parents need to help our children not be so stressed out about grades. 

We can also help our children to cope with that anxiety and stress by teaching them how to relax (deep breathing, clearing the mind, etc.), making sure they eat healthy foods and get enough sleep (if they have hours of homework you give them a time limit and you praise the effort, not the grade – easier said than done!), take instant vacations (go for a quick walk, take them for ice cream, read a book for pleasure, etc.), contribute to the world (volunteer or simply help a neighbor). This is interesting too, contributing to the world. Many times teenagers are considered not nice or delinquent by others because they “seem” that way. If you have your teenager start helping out, they are then surrounded by “thank yous” and the knowledge that help is a good positive thing which in turn has 2 different results. One, the teenager is not looked at as a delinquent but a “good kid” and two, when he is an adult if the time comes for him to need help he will be more willing to ask and graciously receive that help.

And lastly, it is a child’s job to push you away, always. When they were a year and starting to walk, they would struggle out of your arms so they could do it. When they are in 4th and 5th grade they push your hugs and kisses away because it is embarrassing. When they are in middle school they push you away because you are embarrassing. When they are 16 they push you away because now they can drive themselves. Dr. Ginsberg says they push you away because you love them so much that it makes them uncomfortable, but deep down they need you to keep being there and trying to give them hugs and kisses and rides. If your kids are pushing you away, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to.

There was so much more to his talk that was so wonderful, I could go on and on, but I think what I mentioned were the points that really hit home with me.

Dr. Ginsberg has a few books that I think would be worth reading if any of the above hit a chord with you and your students or own children.

 This week, I can say, I was completely Inspired!


1 comment :

  1. Hi Shawna!
    I love this post! It is so true and it really makes me rethink what I say in the classroom! Thank you for posting it :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I really appreciate it :) I hope you have a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving :)



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