By: Elise Phillips Margulis
Karen Blomquist, a Mount Olive 5th grade teacher at Chester M. Stevens Elementary School, has come up with a very clever way for her students to learn valuable life lessons. Blomquist, who’s been an educator for 17 years, is teaching the concept of growth mindset which is the idea that learning can be developed. Blomquist says the notion is that “mistakes are part of the learning process and that, in fact, mistakes are a necessary part of the journey.”
To demonstrate to the youngsters that people learn important things from mistakes and grow from the lessons Blomquist asked her 45 reading and writing students to interview someone in their life who they consider inspirational. Her instructions were to specifically ask about trials and tribulations in their lives and how they grew from the experiences. The students were also told to ask the interviewee how s/he eventually used that growth from a difficult situation to their advantage.
Students chose to interview family members, a Wayne firefighter, a ninja coach, a dance teacher, a guidance counselor, the mayor, Josh Spivak (the head soccer coach at Centenary University), and many other mentors. All of the interviews took place outside of the classroom except for the mayor who volunteered to talk to the children in school.
The next step in the process is that the children are creating a custom project with the information that they learned in their interview to illustrates how their interviewee was effected by their hardships. Some students are designing poster boards using inspirational quotes, photos, and whatever else they deem will capture and showcase the life lessons.
One example of sage council came from the mayor who imparted the following advice: “trust in your own decisions, know and accept your worth, believe in yourself, and listen to your inner calling.” The children enjoyed listening to the mayor and said that they valued his words of wisdom.
The students have responded to this assignment with much enthusiasm.
“What a great idea to have them learn from others how to handle hardships and to utilize the lessons that arise when dealing with mistakes and unfortunate circumstances.” Blomquist said.