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Monday, November 7, 2011

Week Ten Notes

A Test of Time

The unexpected loss of power last week, and the subsequent frustration it ignited while waiting for CL&P to return light to our lives, offered a test in patience, for sure, and even a temporary respite from the quickening pace of life that has us so wired these days.  Some of us dusted off the monopoly game and others dug out the deck of cards buried under...stuff.  And still more of us found ourselves actually having a conversation during a "candle-light" dinner. 

As much as the power outage inconvenienced us, it also provided a time for reflection.  It gave us downtime.  And it was an odd feeling.  Whatever happened to downtime?  Here's one view - What Happened to Downtime?

Test Optional

Several colleges and universities - mostly smaller schools - have chosen to become "test-optional" institutions, meaning that students are given the option of submitting their SAT/ACT scores.  On the surface, it may appear that these schools are making the claim that other measures are far more important to consider than some standardized test taken on some Saturday morning.  In fact, this may be the case since research indicates that students who choose not to submit scores perform just as well in the college classrooms as those students who do submit scores.  Of course, there are cynics who believe that there are other strategic reasons for implementing the "test-optional" policy.  We'll save that for another time.

Either way, schools that implement this option give students who feel their test scores would diminish their chances for admission the choice to hold back their scores.  For those students who wish to have their scores considered, they go ahead and submit them.

To read one take on this, click on Rigors and Rewards for Going Test Optional.

Adjustments in School Calendar

As a result of last week's storm, the school calendar has been adjusted as reflected below:

November 15       First marking period closes
November 16       Second marking period begins
January 24-27     Semester 1 exam period
January 30            Third marking period begins
March 29                Fourth marking period begins
June 18-21             Semester 2 marking period

You may want to use a "pencil" when putting this into your calendar.  No need to say why. 

Knowing Who You Are

We all know about physical fitness and what we can do in the way of exercises, diet, rest and the like in order to become more physically fit.  But what about mental fitness - Is it possible for us to become more mentally fit?  Can we actually strengthen our cognitive capacity, expand our mental muscle, and stretch our malleable minds?  There is enough evidence to suggest we can.  But, much like physical fitness requires intelligent and intense effort, so too does mental fitness require this kind of effort.  An article appearing in Time, Teens' IQ May Rise or Fall Over Time, addressed this issue.  Is intelligence fluid?  Or is it fixed?

Of course, nothing is as clean and precise as research sometimes indicates.  Still, preferences and tendencies may be revealed that could lead to interesting discoveries.  It used to be "common knowledge" that intelligence was a fixed trait and captured on "intelligence" tests.  Many have since challenged this notion, including Howard Gardner of Harvard (multiple intelligences) and Robert Sternberg of (formerly Yale) Tufts (triarchic theory of intelligence).  Intelligence is much more than what may be measured by an intelligence test (or SAT, for that matter - by the way, The College Board actually changed the "A" in SAT from "aptitude" - implying innate intelligence - to "assessment" - denoting achievement).  Guess what?  Now the "A" stands for absolutely nothing.  SAT stands for SAT.  Anyway, intelligence is much more fluid, subject to change, than was once thought.

The same may be considered of personality temperaments. In past posts on this blog, descriptions of four basic temperaments  - reduced from the sixteen "personality types" defined in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) - were provided that may resemble different kinds of individuals that comprise a student body (or even a human race).  If you were asked to review these descriptions and then choose in order the pairs of students likely to be successful in a school environment, you probably could do it with reasonable accuracy. 

Each type/temperament has its strengths.  Each has its weaknesses as well.  Without getting too technical (and long-winded), suffice it to say that all of us possess the potential for developing the strengths inherent in each temperament.  Obviously, it requires effort - intelligent and intense effort.  We can become intellectually stronger, more flexible in our thinking, and we can cultivate the stamina sometimes required in challenging situations.  Repeat - it takes intelligent and intense effort, in the same way that it requires this kind of effort to become more physically fit.  Of course, there are limits to what one may be capable of doing simply because of one's genetic makeup, but there is also a range within this makeup where one can move along a continuum.  The ideal would be for each person to move to the upper limits of this range.  Repeat - it takes intelligent and intense effort to do this.

Students who complete "Do What You Are" (high school version of the MBTI) in Naviance - it's part of their Student Success Plan -  receive a detailed description of their strengths as well as their "blind spots."  It's very useful information that can serve as a workout plan to make one more mentally fit.  Repeat - it takes..

Sometimes personality temperaments can clash.  You may want to read how in Ambitious Parents, Mellow Children.


Article of Interest

The Wrong Inequality

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