Thoughts from Head of School- Perceptual Development and Grit in Children

Sallie-Wells-headThank you to the families and faculty that gathered Saturday morning for Cougar U. We explored two topics on Saturday: 1) Perceptual Development and 2) Grit. For those of you that were unable to join us. Here’s a brief recap and some resources you may wish to explore.

Perceptual Development
The majority of us are familiar or at least have heard of the various developmental domains that are a part of a child’s growth. We’ve heard of cognitive development (construction of thought processes), physical development (gross and fine motor development, coordination, etc.), language development (the ability to acquire both receptive and expressive language), and social/emotional development (how we interact and respond to those within our world). Few have heard of perceptual development. Perceptual development is linked to cognitive development and is the aspect of development that is closely tied to one’s senses (touch, smell, taste, see, hear). Perceptual development involves the process of interpretation and thus understanding. It is through perceptual development that we acquire our perceptions of the world. One’s perceptions can best be explored through inquiry relating to the senses. As we explore and work to understand children’s perceptions, it’s best to inquire through questions related to the senses (i.e. What did you see that made you feel that way?) There is a new area of research that explores and has found that perceptual development first occurs while in the womb and that the messages perceived by the child while in the womb lay a foundation for them that lasts a lifetime. You may find the following TED Talk by Annie Murphy Paul -“What we learn before we’re born” of interest:

https://www.ted.com/talks/annie_murphy_paul_what_we_learn_before_we_re_born

Grit
Our second topic explored grit. This is a new area of research and quite the buzz word in education these days. Grit is best described, according to Angela Duckworth (psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania) as one’s ability to “work strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity and plateaus…” It has been determined through research that grit is an indicator of success. It has also been determined, through research, that students with high IQ but lower amounts of grit are not as successful as students with an average IQ but a high amount of grit. As Dr. Duckworth states, “Many students with high intelligence may decide to take the safe route and are not particularly successful in life, whereas students with average intelligence and a good level of grit often far surpass their high-ability peers as grit predicts success beyond talent.” Grit differs from perseverance in that grit involves being able to stay the course over a long period of time. Grit is about being able to commit over a period of time and stay loyal to set goals.  Grit is different from passion in that grit requires full effort (even when not easy) and one’s full commitment to being successful (mastery). Here’s a 6-minute TED Talk by Dr. Angela Duckworth on grit that you may find interesting: https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit
I love working with and learning about children. There is so much to learn about how they grow and learn, and there is much that they teach us. So, let’s be “gritty” and know that when it comes to learning about, working with, and nurturing children we’re committed to the long term, and thus, committed to the success of each and every one of them. Keep learning!

 

 

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