Inspired by one of Character Lab’s weekly emails, CEO Cameron Smith reflects on grit, growth-mindset, and the power of a good night’s sleep.If your Sunday morning is like mine, there are very few emails in the Inbox arriving overnight and prior to 5 am; but, there are a few I do look forward to regularly enjoying with a quiet cup of coffee, and one of those is from Character Lab. Ironically, the topic at hand is about the power of sleep, particularly for young people. Adults, you are welcome to curl up with your own cup of coffee and read on...
Character Lab is run by Professor Angela Duckworth from the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Duckworth is lauded widely for her groundbreaking research on non-IQ predictors of academic and professional success, which includes ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’. As a Penn alum, I spoke with Professor Duckworth years ago when I was just conceptualizing Bennett Day School, and her input was invaluable! Grit is a psychologically identifiable trait, and it can be cultivated. This is a key concept for how we operate in our school and how we also nurture in our students the Growth Mindset coined by Carol Dweck at Stanford University.
At Bennett Day School, High School starts at 9:00 am. Middle School starts at 8:30 am. For all the things we want to accomplish in our schools, so much of it doesn’t even matter if our brains aren’t on.
I was interviewed not long ago, as a parent, about ‘The Power of Yet’ -- teaching our children to say instead of ‘I can’t do that’ to say ‘I can’t do that...yet!’ Sometimes you need different strategies to reach your goals. Focusing on the process, and how you can improve, is key to a Growth Mindset. This is why Adaptability is part of our Values at Bennett Day School. It is the journey, not just the destination.
But something else we value at Bennett, both as adults and for our learners, is sleep. And this was the topic of this week’s Character Lab email, Let Teens Sleep In: The Benefits of Later School Start Times.
I notice this with my own two boys -- the older they get, the more sleep they need, and the later and later they might wander into our room on a weekend. Why would a school schedule force teenagers, who need more sleep, to be sleep-deprived in the face of everything neuroscience research now tells us? Why would we ask our teenagers to start their school day at 7:30 or 8:00 am when the adolescent brain isn’t even ‘turned on’ yet?
Professor Duckworth points out a recent Rand report that tells us moving school start times to 8:30 am would provide close to $10 billion a year of benefit in our country due to improved public health, better academic performance, and the resulting economic impact. Character Lab points out that The State of California is helping lead the way with a new law passed that high school cannot start before 8:30 am.
My doctor, Dr. Ari Levy at Shift says, “sleep is our secret weapon.” Don’t forget, parents and educators, if kids get the sleep they need, it might be easier for you to do the same!
At Bennett Day School, High School starts at 9:00 am. Middle School starts at 8:30 am. For all the things we want to accomplish in our schools, so much of it doesn’t even matter if our brains aren’t on. Grit and Growth Mindset are important concepts for us to understand in our schools. But to effectively implement these concepts, getting enough sleep should be non-negotiable, or what is the point? After you get a good night’s rest, speak up with your state lawmakers about school start times if you agree.
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