Here’s an incredibly powerful article i would urge all parents and teachers to read.
As a teacher or a parent have you ever thrown your hands in the air and labeled a child ‘lazy’, ‘forgetful’, ‘careless’? My guess is that I won’t be the only reader for whom this brings back bad memories of our own childhood, our own education.
The skills listed under the ‘executive skills’ umbrella are so important in our adult lives. lacking them, or believing that being weak in them is ‘just how we are’ because of our childhood experiences can seriously impair adults’ abilities to fulfil their true potential in life. In worst case scenarios the years of school and college, formative years, can be turned in to a living hell for some unlucky children.
The article suggests that in all people these skills have the potential to keep building for at least the first two decades of life. However, there is an inevitability that in some children the mental facility to acquire these skills will come in to place at varying rates.
I was thinking as I read this article that certain aspects of our schools and homes can increase the risks for a child on this issue;
a) If our educators are completely focused on the ‘what’ to be learned – the syllabus etc., we fail to give adequate time to all students to help them develop these skills,
b) Then, educators need the acuity and focus to identify those students for whom further intervention and assistance is needed,
c) This is one area where parents and teachers need to make their working together really effective, and most certainly not indulge in secretiveness from each other or blame games,
d) Making school and/ or home too ‘loose’ and free in terms of rules, expectations of the child, routines and processes does not serve the child well. They need to know that getting it right on ‘Executive skills’ matters, but that while they’re learning there is as much help available to them as they need.
Fail to pay attention to these things and, I believe, we have to find ourselves culpable if we have a generation of young people who are disorganised, cannot meet deadlines, turn in shoddy work because of last-minutism and cannot be relied upon.
Ultimately, these ‘executive skills’ are skills of character. Few will survive without them and we do children a great disservice if we expect them to figure the skills out for themselves without overtly directing their learning. Like it or not, these skills might just matter more in the long term than algebra or how to write a haiku.