Why Reading Really Matters

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. North Shore mom, Brooke Carnap, was shocked when her daughter, Mattie, came home with a grade of 59 on her 6th grade Social Studies test. “But I know Mattie studied. I saw her reading her textbook and looking over her notes. I can’t understand why she wasn’t ready for the test. In elementary school, Mattie was considered a good reader. In middle school, her grades are slipping and it’s hard to figure out why.” Does your child know how to read? What a stupid … [Read more...]

What Makes Learning Exciting?

What makes learning exciting? The Question. If you start with the question, you can never go wrong. There are three basic steps to the learning process – any learning process. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about students in a school; the scientists in the laboratory; or the parent and child at the baseball game. It’s all about asking and answering questions. Step 1: The Question It all starts with the question. Ask questions. Then ask more questions. And then, perhaps, consider … [Read more...]

How to Make Children Care about Learning

By Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. It’s summer. It’s the time to take time off from learning! Why should I care about how to make my children care about learning? We learn what we do. Period. What does this mean? Question: When are we not doing something? Answer: We are never not doing something. We are always doing something. If this is true, then we are constantly learning. Every action is a source of learning. There is no such thing as a time for learning and a time off from learning. … [Read more...]

Don’t Dismiss Jeff Bliss

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. I hope you’ve seen the viral video of the high school sophomore who, when his teacher dismissed him from class, launched into a tirade about the quality of the education he was receiving. If not, you can find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bYv2AKPZOk. Jeff Bliss is an 18-year old high school sophomore. He had quit school for a year. Having learned that he would go nowhere without a high school education, Bliss returned to school. The viral video clip occurred … [Read more...]

You Can Offer A Kid An Education, But You Can’t Make Him Care

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. This is a time honored adage, to be sure. For years, I’ve heard variants of it from secondary school teachers and college professors alike. You can make students come to class, but you can’t make them care about their learning. We offer incentives (grades) to students for completing their work and for doing their best work. I often wonder what would happen if we graded students on how much they … [Read more...]

Making Learning Fun

by Michael F. Mascolo, PhD There have been some interesting Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times recently about the process of learning. Here are two opposing positions on our recent penchant for “making learning fun”. In Building Self-Control, The American Way (New York Times, February 17, 2013), Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang respond to recent books that offer a critique of American styles of teaching, learning and parenting. For example, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Chau, 2011) provided an … [Read more...]