What I learned at Harvard

Print Friendly

Full disclosure, I did not attend Harvard University. I just returned from a conference hosted on campus which focused on executive function and social emotional learning. On my flight back to Chicago, my brain was processing and attempting to synthesize everything I had heard over the past 48 hours. Sleep was not an option, as the airlines have determined that leg room is unnecessary. In a nutshell, Montessori was right. The research backs up the premise that executive functions are often more predictive than IQ of academic success and general well-being; and are not fixed, but can be improved. More importantly, these skills are built through active engagement, not just listening. “Thinking outside the box” is the phrase often used to describe cognitive flexibility. When we ask children to consider multiple ways to solve a problem or encouraging them to not only have a Plan A , but a Plan B and C, it is intentionally done to promote cognitive flexibility. It certainly would seem simpler to just tell them what to do but what a loss that would be.

Posted in 6-12 - Anne Matern