Blog by Tim Elmore: Do Smart Phones Make Us Smarter?

Earlier this week, I asked Joey, my oldest grandchild if he thought the presence of an iphone, even if merely set down and unused, would distract him from doing well on a math assignment.  Unlike many students, who insisted that they are immune to any affect, I was surprised and delighted with his emphatic response, “it would definitely distract me from doing good work because even seeing it is too tempting for me.” I could tell by the conversation with Joey that he had gained knowledge that helped him recognize the downside of having a smart phone.  Already this information was useful in determining better practices for himself. As guardians of our young kids hearts and minds, we must remember to share with them reliable, up-to-date information. Here’s a great blog by Tim Elmore that is well worth reading and sharing with your kids. Dr. Elmore summarizes several recent studies and shares information that is helpful and important for all of us living in this tech-driven world.   Do Smart Phones Make Us Smarter?  ...

Mini-blog series: FOSTERING a CULTURE of LEARNING & GROWTH

Until recently IQ was considered the most important factor with regard to a child’s success in learning. Now scientists are finding a very different set of skills believed to be crucial; these are non-cognitive skills such as persistence, fortitude, self-control, curiosity, drive, and thoroughness. They are often referred to as executive function skills, those intangible character qualities previously regarded by many as not teachable. Now however scientists are saying these may in fact be the most important skills to teach.  How can we foster a culture in our homes and classrooms in which children learn these qualities that are vital to their growth and development in every way? How do we encourage them to be “attentive observers and industrious doers, propelled by their own initiative?” (Veritas Valiant) How do we teach our children grit or SISU, that tenacious ability to persist despite the challenges? How do we help them grow in attentiveness and self-control? Starting August 28th, I will post a “mini blog” each week related to how we can foster such a culture in our homes and classrooms:  The blogs will be short posts consisting of simple ideas, links to related articles, thought-provoking quotes or scripture. Whether you are an educator, a parent or grandparent, or simply someone interested in helping kids, join me in this series. I value your ideas and insights and plan to include your great ideas in future posts.  You can share them via the comment function OR simply email me at geschuk@gmail.com. To receive notification by email, go to familywings.org/blog.  On the right sidebar, you can subscribe to receive notifications of new mini-blogs as...

Learning to Be Still

Please check out “So Here’s the Thing” with Kathi Lipp, her podcast which offers parents hope, humor and how to’s.  I was thrilled to be a part of her podcast this week, which features Erin’s and my book Free to Parent.  You can hear the whole thing by clicking on “So Here’s the Thing.”   And here’s this week’s post on an important topic for all parents: Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 I recently spoke to our young students at school about the verse “Be still and know that I am God” found in Psalms 46. As I looked out into the audience and considered the sweet faces gazing back at me, I realized that I was speaking to boys and girls who definitely knew what it meant to “hold still,” but I wondered whether they comprehended, or even knew how to experience, what it meant to “be still.”  Growing up in a media saturated world, what will they miss out on if they never learn to experience stillness within themselves? This inner state of being –  our minds at rest –  is something we need to practice to make it part of who we are. Earlier in Psalm 46,  it states “do not fear though the earth give away.”  To be still in the midst of such terror seems improbable, yet it’s exactly what we are told to do – to be still in the midst of our storms, and turn our hearts and minds to God, the source of our wisdom and strength. We need to be still at those times of...

The Art of Memory

 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 I am memorizing the Sermon on the Mount.  All 111 verses by Christmas. A declining memory  is excusable at my age.  Expected. And I am no genius. In fact I have a very average memory at best. So why am I doing this? First, I am discovering the “art and science of remembering everything” as I read a book my son recommended to me called Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer. According to the author, “the average person squanders about 4 weeks a year compensating for things he or she has forgotten.”   I want to capture more – and forget less. So much of what I read or hear forms a brief impression but then is soon forgotten.  What would it mean to have all this lost knowledge accessible within me?   How many connections have failed to develop in my mind because of untrained memory?  Practically speaking, I want to remember people’s names and what they tell me.  This art of memory applies to remembering everything! Joshua Foer compels the reader to learn to think in more memorable ways.  He utilizes techniques known as the “art of memory” which were refined and taught by Romans like Cicero and Quintilian as a way to memorize sermons, prayers, speeches, and even entire books.  In their day, memory was everything.  A trained memory was considered fundamental to an educated mind as well as a chief form of character building.  “Only through memorizing, the thinking went, could ideas truly be incorporated into one’s psyche and their...

Improving Memory

I recently wrote about a new cognitive condition being reported on called digital dementia that is affecting some even in their early teens and twenties.  This condition – a result of the overuse of digital technology –  leads to unbalanced brain development, impacting many functions including memory. The virtual world offers an easy alternative making it tempting to resist the work of memory. Perceiving little need, are we forgetting how to remember? But what happens when our memory processes weaken?  Memory fuels creativity and allows us to make learning connections. In addition long-term memory forms the foundation of our personal  identity as a key player in linking the past to the future; looking back, our lives become a sum total of what we remember. Memorizing is hard work but can become shockingly fun and worthwhile. Memory is not an innate gift but is learned. It requires a depth of processing; a full mindfulness whose enemy is distraction. Memorizing is essential for creativity to happen; it’s fertile soil for learning as well as for wise decision making. To hide God’s word in my heart requires the work of memory.  Psalm 119:11 states that a heart full of God’s word forms a hedge against wrong choices.  The choices we make in haste – in those unexpected moments when we face the challenges of life – are responses that rise up from what is stored within our hearts. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Next week I will provide memory improvement tips for students but for now I encourage you to read a...

Learning to Pay Attention

Continued from last week’s post “Growing Attention in an Age of Distraction.” In researching ways to help children learn to pay attention, I came across a comprehensive, informative article by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., a teacher and educational psychologist whose major area of interest has been identifying practical applications in current brain research for teachers and parents. The final paragraph in her article titled “Helping Kids Learn to Pay Attention” reads as follows: “Helping our children develop good attention and self-management skills is one of our most important jobs. Studies of successful adults have suggested that “smarts” – or even advanced degrees — are actually less predictive of success than a person’s ability to focus effectively on a challenging problem and exercise the self-control to stick with it. After all, what good is frantic “multi-tasking” if a person is unable to “task” effectively? Many factors in today’s culture of childhood conspire to erode attentional abilities, but wise, patient, and caring adults can provide foundations and models that will stick for a lifetime. “ Her article includes a comprehensive, must-read list of practical tips for parents and teachers. Rather than summarize her findings for you, I encourage you to click on the link above and read it all. Regardless of age and regardless of ability, everyone needs to work on growing attention skills.  Not only is attention closely aligned with self management skills, but being attentive is the means by which we are able to keep God’s Word in our hearts. Proverbs 4:20: “Be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape from your sight,...