EDU 6132- Students as Learners
1. Does intelligence change across lifespan?
This depends on who you listen to. According to (Brody, 1992; Brody & Brody, 1978) “… IQ scores at 7 correlate at least .60 with IQ scores at 18.” (p. 235). This shows that intelligence, while not set in stone, does not change drastically from childhood to adulthood. There is still .40 chance for change, however, which could provide for increases and decreases in intelligence. Testing on infants has not proved to be an effective tool for measuring later childhood or adult intelligence. Once adulthood is reached the outlook for intelligence increasing is slim. “After age 20, it was all downhill.” (p. 237).
If you are looking at intelligence according to Cattell and Horn’s Theory of Intelligence across the Lifespan, both crystallized and fluid intelligence must be measured. Crystallized intelligence is the testing of “…items indicating breadth and depth of cultural knowledge, such as vocabulary knowledge. Fluid intelligence is measured by items requiring reasoning abilities, such as inductive and deductive reasoning, to understand relations among stimuli, comprehend implications and draw inferences.” (p. 238). Because of the natural neuron loss that comes with age, around 50,000 neurons a day, fluid intelligence declines as it is “…strongly dependent on biological wholeness.” (p. 238). In contrast to fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, directly relates to life experience. Thus intelligence can increase as we age and go through life; multiplying not only our life experiences but our maturational growth. All this needs to be taken into account with relation to “…speed of processing and differences in the amount of education.” (p. 238). There is an end to crystallized intelligence growth at about 70 years of age.
2. Is giftedness a blessing or a curse?
Giftedness can be seen as both a blessing and a curse, depending on which lens you are looking through. Giftedness usually indicates an IQ of 130 or higher, however, there is variation in this score. Being a gifted student can be challenging if there is not enough work or support to encourage your talents. With the right teaching style and implementation of appropriate curriculum, giftedness can be reinforced and stimulated. Learning diversity will always be present in any classroom. The blessing is when this diversity is embraced and successfully promoted in all learners. It is a curse when these highly gifted students have little support for developing and directing their talents appropriately. “The gifted use more advanced strategies than peers of average intelligence on memory and problem solving tasks. They also have superior metacognition.” (p. 247). Because of this, gifted children need to be understood and thoughtfully planned for, when developing and combining advanced and grade level curriculum in a classroom setting.
3. How can you create a motivating classroom? Cite Rafe’s teaching practices for examples.
That is the question; however, I think there is no one simple answer. I would first like to visit the example of motivation through rewards. In the Colbert Report video shared in class, monetary rewards were given to the students for high test scores/grades. While this “payment plan” worked in the short term, it did not last, motivation was not sustained. This example provided a contrast in ideology of what motivates students extrinsic rewards vs. intrinsic motivation. What became evident for me was that teachers have to find a way to motivate students intrinsically (no small feat) that is most likely different for each student. When looking at Thorndike’s Law of Effect, “people repeat satisfying behaviors”. So how do we know what is satisfying to each student? I think it is through careful monitoring of each students socio-emotional status.
In the example of, The Hobart Shakespeareans, Rafe Esquith’s amazing teaching style and his ability to intuitively monitor his students’ socio-emotional status was inspirational. Rafe motivates his students by empowering them. He doesn’t pay them or give them “stuff” he “lights a fire within” each student by explicitly addressing his high expectations and treating each student with respect. He doesn’t talk down to them. He doesn’t sugar coat anything. He tells the kids exactly what he expects and how things need to work to be a success. This was apparent when he was sharing his expectations of the commitment to performing Shakespeare. “How many are ready to kill their T.V.?” he asked when describing the commitment level he expects of all students who are interested in performing. “This is about hard work even when you go home. If you can’t live without T.V., this isn’t your class.” When talking about why he loves to teach 10 year olds he says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I like to get kids on the right track early.”
In addition to his exploration of the dramatic arts, Rafe is open and honest when sharing his own emotions about literature, specifically The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is apparent Rafe has provided a safe environment where each student can openly and honestly express who they are and what they feel as they read emotionally rich texts aloud. Moreover, Rafe engages the students through a high level of repetitive praise, constructive correction and creativity that leaves the children begging to participate. Individual motivation becomes a self-fulfilling (intrinsic) journey for the students through the support, encouragement and impressive honesty Rafe provides. His passion is contagious, spreading like a virus through his class, infecting the students with the desire and motivation to work hard. A clear example of this was seen when a young girl read for the part of Ophelia with passion and desire that even Rafe was impressed by. Students want to do better, share more, try even harder because their teacher believes in them and in turn they believe in themselves.
4. Whose theories of development did you find more useful as a classroom teacher: Erikson or Vygotsky?
I find both to be useful however, I think that I have to side with Erikson for effectiveness of psychosocial stage theory in the classroom. As examined in the Rafe Esquith example provided in question three, I think the attention to socio-emotional well-being of students is imperative to providing a motivationally charged environment where learning can take place. In Erikson’s study of development he was, “…struck by the adaptability of people to their surroundings.” (p. 145). By exploring identity and identity crisis Erikson’s acknowledged the significance of peer social pressures on intellectual development. “What is especially important is the adolescence’s new intellectual ability to think about hypothetical situations and to compare hypothetical outcomes.” (p.147). This then should become a major theme in classroom structure when developing critically thinking students and socio-emotionally safe classroom environments. Throughout Erikson’s eight stages of development we are afforded opportunities to support and encourage the development of healthy citizens in the classroom and of the world in the future. It is apparent what a large part teachers play in encouraging positive identity development of students through actions inside and outside of the classroom. “One of the more important tenets of psychoanalytically oriented theories is that what happens during early childhood affect development after that. Thus Erikson’ theorized, there is continuity and connection with issues of trust and mistrust across development.” (p. 149). In this connection I see the role of teacher and classroom environment as paramount to supporting positive identity development.
5. Describe how you might create a humane emotionally charged classroom learning event?
According to Medina, “Emotionally charged environments can be divided into two categories: those that no two people experience identically and those that everybody experiences identically.” (p.81). When a mother yells at her children each child my experience that yelling event differently. However, if held at gun point we might all experience the same fight-or-flight emotion that is part of our evolutionary heritage. But how do you incorporate this into a classroom humanely? It is possible to do while developing topics/lessons while incorporating more than one of the five senses. For example, telling a story while playing music alters the nature of the experience. A great memory I have of when this was when I was taking a class on film studies. We had to present a film where we had changed the music to reflect a different emotion that was originally planned. The most memorable example related to the film The Shining. This extremely scary film was presented to the class, but changed with music and scenes depicting a romantic comedy (although this is not the exact example this link provides a contemporary example of the same film). This appealed to the student through sight and sound and ultimately changed our perception. I still remember this clip and class very well because of this emotionally charged classroom learning event. Making something memorable through a combination of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste attaches it to more than one memory storage bank, offering more locations in the brain for later retrieval. Medina offers this idea of a humane emotionally charged classroom through three steps when using direct instruction or a lecture. “After nine minutes and 59 seconds, the audience’s attention is getting ready to plummet near zero.” (p. 91). This is where step one comes in as a hook that triggers emotion. “Fear, laughter, happiness, nostalgia, incredulity- the entire emotional palette could be stimulated, and all worked well.”(p.91). Second, the hook has to be relevant to the audience so that they ended up “…feeling engaged.” (p. 91). Lastly the hook had to reflect either the information before or after the hook itself. These hooks must be intentionally planned by the teacher and relevant to the material in order to sustain audience attention and help provide support to the emotionally charged event.
6. What are the three parts of stress? Are you stressed right now? How do you know?
Three components of stress as explained by Medina are:
1) “Aroused physiological response”- like a jolt of adrenaline
2) “Stressor perceived as aggressor”- if given the choice would you chose not to deal with the stressor?
3) “Loss of control or feeling of helplessness”- unable to handle the stressful situation, complete breakdown. (pp.172-174).
Am I stressed now? I would have to say less than I was two hours ago when I had been working on this quiz for three hours straight. I just returned from a yoga class, and as we learned earlier in Medina’s book, exercise is very beneficial to relieving stress. However, if you give me a minute to start thinking about all that I have to accomplish in the next few hours, weeks, even moments before my daughter walks in the door and concentration plummets, I can sense tension moving up my spine. I can imagine tears pushing from behind my eyelids. I can sense an overwhelming feeling of doom surrounding all the papers, seminars, quizzes and additional classes I need to finish and that doesn’t even take into account financial obligations, martial relationships, family obligations, personal well-being and physiological basic necessities being avoided because of lack of time. If given the choice I would ignore it all and hope that it would go away (though I know this is not an option). SO yes I am stressed but I have come to an understanding that in order to be a more successful mother, wife, student, employee, friend, and soon to be teacher there needs to be balance and perspective. Admittedly, some days are better than others. I try to take one thing at a time so that stress doesn’t take me over. I plan time for studies, exercise, sleep, and down time. I plan for social, family, spiritual obligations. Stress, when left unattended and unorganized, can lead to difficulties in problem solving, creativity, retention, and sickness. I try to plan but even sometimes the best laid plans go haywire and stress takes over.
Medina, John (2008). Brain Rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press
Pressley, M McCormick, C. (2007). Child and Adolescent Development for Educators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press