Sunday, September 29, 2013

Grit: Interesting Article Summaries, Provided by Ruffing Parent's Digest

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger?" Yes, this is what they are talking about...GRIT.  As we round the corner into the October MLB Postseason, what a great time to talk about this character trait!

I know you are probably thinking, "How does she have the time to blog about this random stuff?" Well, if you saw the Himalaya-size mountain of laundry sitting on my bed right now, you would understand.  Clearly, something (else) has GOT to give...

I wanted to share some interesting article summaries provided in our Ruffing Parent's Digest, a quarterly publication for our school community.  It features highlights and summaries of interesting education and parenting related articles, provided through collaboration between John McNamara, (Principal) and Vincent O'Keefe (Parent Resources Coordinator).  

I am a self-proclaimed geek when it comes to reading about this stuff.  However, I find such topics endlessly fascinating.  At the risk of article-information-sharing overload, I wanted to share with other parents who may be interested as well.  The following summaries about 'Grit' are particularly insightful...It reminded me of a great quotation by Winston Churchill I discovered and recently shared via FB...

Ultimately, this is an interesting topic, and one I would love to learn more about, in terms of how children learn this skill.  I cannot think of anything more helpful for succeeding (if not merely surviving) through life's challenges, from school, sports, career, to relationships, etc., than this core character trait.

Links to full articles are provided at the end of each summary.

II. Grit

SUMMARY: “Failure Makes You a Winner.” By Christine Carter

            Christine Carter explains that recent psychological research has found “grit” to be “one of the best predictors of elite performance, whether in the classroom or in the workforce. Defined by researchers as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals,’ grit gives us the strength to cope with a run-of-the-mill bad day (or week or season) as well as with trauma or crisis.”

            Surprisingly, “grit predicts performance better than IQ or innate talent.” Grit is less a personality trait and more a “facet of a person’s character that is developed like any other skill. . . humans develop grit by encountering difficulty and learning to cope with it.”

            Carter continues that “grandmaster chess players, great athletes, scientific geniuses, and celebrated artists learn, in part, by losing, making mistakes, and failing.” She uses a well-known quotation from basketball legend Michael Jordan to illustrate her point. Jordan, who was actually cut from his high school basketball team before achieving glory, declares: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

To read the full text of this blog post dated May 20, 2013, see Christine Carter is also the author of Raising Happiness: Science for Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.

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SUMMARY: “Angela Duckworth and the Research on ‘Grit.’” By Emily Hanford

Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been conducting research on a personal quality called “grit,” which she defines as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” She explains that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”

Duckworth’s research suggests that “when it comes to high achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence.” This is a significant finding because intelligence has long been considered central to success; that’s why it has been measured so carefully over the years. A growing area of psychology research, however, is attempting to measure “what are loosely called ‘noncognitive skills.’ The goal is to identify and measure the various skills and traits other than intelligence that contribute to human development and success.”

Research on intelligence has been inconclusive in many ways. For example, there are many intelligent people “who aren’t high achievers, and there are people who achieve a lot without having the highest test scores.” In fact, one of Duckworth’s studies found that “smarter students actually had less grit that their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test.” The study suggests that students with lower test scores “compensate by working harder and with more determination.” And that work paid off: “The grittiest students--not the smartest ones--had the highest GPAs.”

In a study conducted at West Point, the elite U. S. military academy, grit was the best predictor of success in its rigorous summer training program. In fact, “grit mattered more than intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness.” At the Scripps National Spelling Bee, “the grittiest contestants were the most likely to advance to the finals--at least in part because they studied longer, not because they were smarter or were better spellers.”

Related to education, Duckworth believes “grit is something people can probably learn. . . She says every human quality that has been studied has proven to be affected at least in part by a person’s environment--even intelligence.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"The Art of the Handwritten Note" by Luke Ives Pontifell

While flipping through a Brooks Brothers catalogue, I came across a cute article titled, "The Art of the Handwritten Note" by Luke Ives Pontifell (founder of Thornwillow Press).  I love this piece since it celebrates the significance and impact of a simple old-fashioned, thoughtful gesture, the handwritten note.

Whether for a birthday, thank you, condolence, congratulations, or simple thinking-of-you occasion, there is no more effective, strait-from-the-heart way to convey your feelings to the recipient.  Who doesn't love receiving a hand-written letter? So simple, so easy to complete, yet so meaningful and rewarding to both send and receive!  Particularly in our current screen-obsessed culture of emailing, texting, tweeting, and Facebooking, this article reminds us to value the importance of this (often lost) art.

I also included some photos of cute stationery from our local store, Paper Trails in Rocky River (Cleveland)...

Wanted to share the article with you....Enjoy!

"The Art of the Handwritten Note"

* Reaffirming the value of pen and paper in the digital age *

Written by Luke Ives Pontifell

"We are told again and again, that no one writes anymore, the letter is dead, overrun by tweets, eblasts, and texts.  I disagree. Now more than ever, as John Donne reminded "more than kisses, letters mingle souls."

In this age of disposable and intangible communications - when we delete our emails, hang up our conversations, and literally turn on and off our books, a letter, a real letter, written by hand with a pen, on paper is as powerful a way of communicating as ever.

A thoughtful letter can be saved, savored, and reread...and passed to readers yet born.  It provides permanence and longevity to an idea, a sentiment, an emotion.  "Letters," German writer, poet, and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, "are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them."

Some letters are best never written.  The angry, bitter, critical, or deprecating letter, when allowed to get out of the pen and out the door, will always be saved.  It is certain to be reread again and again and you will never be able to elude the ill will that you spawned. Emily Post recommended writing such letters with reckless abandon, reading and rereading them yourself...but then ripping them into small pieces and never mailing.

Other letters must be written.  The expression of love, of praise, congratulation or appreciation is something to collect and reread with joy.  It is never unwelcome.  If I were to suggest one thing that will make you a better person, it would be for you to put a box of note cards next to your bed and encourage you to write a note to whomever you dined with that evening or enjoyed an interesting exchange during the day, or to someone who did you a favor.  Thanks is eternal. I know no one who doesn't appreciate being thanked even for the smallest kindness. Henry Miller wrote: "It does me good to write a letter which is not a response to a demand, a gratuitous letter, so to speak, which has accumulated in me like the waters of a reservoir."

A letter is a means for engagement and thoughtful dialogue while at the same time offers an opportunity for reflection and for pause. "Letter writing," Lord Byron wrote, "is the only device for combining solitude with good company."

A letter is an object. It can be written on beautiful heavy, engraved paper, the kind of paper that you could build a house with, paper that will last, paper that says something about you, perhaps emblazoned with your monogram or a whimsical motif that tells the recipient of your communique that you have a sense of humor. A letter can enhance the relationship between the reader and the writer. Like a musical instrument, it is a physical object that exists between the world of the creator and the recipient." -- Luke Ives Pontifell

Some cute stationery from local paper store, Paper Trails, obtained from their website...