In the car this morning Violet and I listed to Dr. Mel Levine on MPR, talking about how children learn. Levine is a pediatrician and brain researcher.
She found it so interesting that I had to leave her in the car with the car running while I picked Victoria up from preschool. One thing we listed to was Levine explanation of how some people have “superficial attention,” meaning that they tend to ignore details on the first and even second pass. These kids suffer in school, obviously, but in Levine’s studies these kids were very often the big-picture, visionary thinkers. Another group focuses intensely on detail, so much that they overlook the big picture. Violet said, “that’s very interesting,” and we had a talk about our styles of thinking.
It was good timing: this morning during math she was doing double-digit multiplication, but she kept messing up by forgetting to put a zero in the ones place when multiplying by the tens digit. (Is that clear? It would be easy to see on paper.) She knows to do it, and she understands the reasoning behind doing it, but she does not pay great attention to detail, which is a killer in math. The speech gave us a good opportunity to say, hey, it’s good to be a big-picture thinker, and we can practice the details because details really matter in subjects like math.
We talked about other ways merging big-picture and detail-focus is a great skill, including writing books. We talked about the great detail in the Harry Potter books—Quidditch rules, types of candy—and the huge story that spans seven books. I think that was an even more persuasive example than doing math problems correctly . . . 😉
There are so many other interesting bits that I really recommend that you listen to it!
Some other themes:
The new “F” word – “fun.” We should encourage our kids to value that which is “interesting” in addition to asking whether this or that was “fun.”
“Visual/motor ecstacy” – the impact of excessive visual, non-linguistic input (e.g. video games) on language development.
Socialization – Children are spending too much time with peers, not enough with adults. As a result, children abandon their own affinities and talents to merge with “the group.”
Helping your child identify which of their “learning switches” are automatic (intuitive) and which are manual. (For example, I am intuitively “big-picture” oriented, but I have to turn my “detail switch” on manually.)
Strengthening strengths rather than concentrating on deficits.
The excerpt seems to start in mid-sentence.