21 April 2010

Review: Mind in the Making

Mindinthemaking.jpgI have admired Ellen Galinsky's work for over twenty years...since I was a Sociology undergraduate at U. C. Berkeley in the late 80s. Founder of the Families and Work Institute, she has been a long-time intelligent advocate for work/family balance, early childhood education and so much more. Given how much the work and education landscape has changed during these years, her work is even more impressive.

Her new book, Mind in the Making, focuses on children and learning -- specifically, the kind of knowledge and skills they will need as they grow. And guess what: it's not pre-algebra.

Through extensive research, both academic and in the "real world," Ellen has come up with a list of the seven most important "life skills" kids can develop to help them forge a path in our "multi-tasking, multimedia, modern world":

  • Focus and Self Control
  • Perspective Taking
  • Communicating
  • Making Connections
  • Critical Thinking
  • Taking On Challenges
  • Self-Directed, Engaged Learning

If you've spent much time here, you know that I'm suspicious of a) "expert" parenting advice, and b) multi-step, one-size-fits-all lists of "essential" anything when it comes to raising kids. This book doesn't fit into either category. What Ellen's talking about here is bypassing the expensive, high-tech "educational" product market in favor of simple games and activities you can share with your kids that build these skills. She's advocating balance between academic "achievement" and personal growth. Between learning for grades and learning for life. This is heady, important stuff -- fertile ground for Parenthackers!

Catch Ellen on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight. For more information, visit the Mind in the Making website. This is way bigger than just a book.

The giveaway is closed, and the winners have been notified. Thank you to all who participated.

Win it! I will send my review copy of Mind in the Making to one randomly chosen Parenthacker who answers the following question in the comments:

What life skills have served YOU best so far?

Your comments

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A sense of curiosity, in order to keep learning and finding that the world is truly full of fascinating things and people!

The ability not to throw stones - meaning you never know what the other person is going through so don't make judgments because you are not perfect either.

Optimism is my best life skill. Sometimes I don't always make the best decisions, but there is no reason to beat myself up about it, it's done, so move on, tomorrow is a new day.

Self-control (self-discipline)! It has allowed me to develop, nurture, and augment the six other skills that Ellen writes about in her book. Everything I've accomplished flows from self-discipline.

The life skill that has served me best so far is being able to think outside of the box and seeing things in more of a gray scale rather than just black and white, to appreciate the journey and where doing things just a little differently can get you.


No magic/weapon/secret. That's powerful stuff, Elizabeth! Fascinating way to think about $.

Maybe this falls under "Perspective Taking," but having a sense of humor has certainly served me well.

Healthy skepticism and the ability to think critically.

Independence with the ability to know when to ask for help.

The ability to laugh at myself.


It has gotten me to where I want to go in life, beating out obtacles, challenges, so-called limitations, and self-doubt. It gives me another chance to succeed, and to believe in myself.

Oops, in the previous post, I meant "obstacles."

Making deliberate choices. Analyzing the potential consequences of my choices and accepting those that go with the choice I make. Choosing to have faith. Choosing to look for joy. And Choosing to believe that other people have a reason for what they do, even if I can't see it.

What life skills have served YOU best so far?

Taking on challenges - lifelong learning. I just attempted a new thing, and it came out beautifully. I now have a personalized nursing necklace at a fraction of the cost of buying, all because I was willing to try something new and ask questions.

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