In this article Mr. Dan Perrel presents ideas as to how your child could have a new mindset on maturity, independence and motivation. Enjoy!
BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND
School Year Winds Down
When asked the following question, nearly every 8th grader I’ve spoken with responds like a high school senior does to the same question about high school: Are you ready for middle school to be over?
Their answer: “YES!”
When I ask eighth graders what it is about middle school that has caused them to want a quick exodus, humorously, they’re again like seniors responding to the question of why they’re so ready to get out of high school.
Their answer: It’s too childish.
I can’t help chuckle because on the surface their response seems to indicate a new found level of maturity that should make everyone pleased by their growth, but reality typically tells us a different story. It’s not that they’ve become so sophisticated they’re now reading the Wall Street Journal and listening to TED Talks every chance they get. Nope! In some respects, they’re just as child-like now as they were at the beginning of the school year. But, in other ways, some not so obvious, they have in fact matured.
I didn’t say they argue with you less. Though they may. I didn’t say they are more eager to contribute to the daily or weekly cleaning of their bedroom. Though they may. I didn’t say they are getting along better with their siblings. Though they may be. Instead, they’ve had an internal change. It’s the kind of change that probably makes them a bit more serious inside; a bit more self-aware; a bit more introspective; a bit more concerned about what others think about them. Introspective growth serves several important purposes in adolescent maturity. One outcome is that it begins to open their awareness of how they are different from others (Hansell, 1986). They have distinct interests, likes and dislikes, and many other subtle distinctions that make them unique (for those of you with multiple children, you know exactly what I mean).
Their awareness isn’t generally from some grand insight. It’s more a feeling than a rational analysis. But, it’s real.
The bottom-line is that they are growing up. They’re beginning to see that they are more like 10th and 11th graders than 3rd and 4th graders.
It’s at this point that some of you may be thinking about what this inevitably leads to: independence.
At the mention of such a thing I can faintly hear screams of “Nooooooooooo!” Independence has its ups and downs during adolescents. It’s probably more likely to be associated with rebellion than positive maturity. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
At any rate, as independence grows (reaching its high school zenith in 12th grade – which is why 12th graders are ready to leave the rules of high school like 8th graders are ready to leave the childishness of elementary/middle school), I’ll argue that rebellion isn’t the greatest challenge. It’s motivation.
Why does it seem that so many students are unmotivated? Research indicates that at least 40% of all students are chronically disengaged from school. Some estimates say the number is much higher.
What about your child? What will he or she do upon reaching high school? Will he face academic challenges by pushing through to achieve understanding? Will she encounter an academic setback only to withdraw from further effort?
A great portion of what we know about the chasm separating the motivated from the disengaged indicates that the difference is primarily one of mindset. In her most recent book, “Mindset,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck tells us that two dramatically different approaches exist in the struggle to deal with life’s challenges: a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.”
In short, what each of us needs to do is invest great energy at instilling in our children (and ourselves) the growth mindset.
Though I believe that reading the book is worth every second you’d put into it, I know that many of you already face full schedules. So, the link that follows is to Dweck’s TED Talk distillation of her book. At only 10 minutes in length, it too is worth every second of your time.
In the end, may you see that Mayer Lutheran is seriously interested in helping you help your child have an outstanding high school experience. And may you know more and more that our ultimate intention is help us all live as the apostle John admonishes us to live – as God is light, may we walk in that light, the light of truth, and may we see things as they really are (I John 1:5-10).
CLASS OF 2020
If you know of a family that is interested in joining us at MLHS, please encourage them that it is never too late to enroll.
Mayer Lutheran High School
Head Coach – Men’s Basketball
952-657-2251, ext 1011