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Kathleen CushmanThe Educator Network Co-Hosts Speaker Kathleen Cushman in November 2010

A crowd of over 200 educators met at HighTech High on November 9, 2010, to hear Kathleen Cushman, author of Fires in the Mind: What Kids can tell us about Motivation and Mastery. The TDLC/High Tech High jointly sponsored event drew educators from all parts of county. The author’s book chronicles interviews she had with high school students which led them to discover what it takes to get really good at something. In her presentation she used the voices and images of her young co-investigators to show what moves youths to tackle challenging tasks and to persist, whatever the environment. Andrea Chiba welcomed the audience on behalf of TDLC and introduced members of TDLC’s Distinguished Educator Panel.

The book spurred discussions in many of the Distinguished Educators’ schools about the role of homework, and the importance of giving teachers and learners a common language to talk about motivation and expertise. Some of the educators reported using her format to begin such discussions.

Link to video: What It Takes to Get Good: Fires in the Mind

Cushman flier

More information about the book (Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery):

What does it take to get really good at something? Kathleen Cushman’s latest collaboration with students brings youth perspectives to that compelling question, while grounding their inquiry in the cognitive research on motivation, practice, and mastery. In this presentation, she uses the voices and images of her young co-investigators to illuminate the factors that move youth to tackle challenging tasks and to persist through their difficulties, whatever the learning environment.

Cushman began the nationwide “Practice Project” (an initiative of the nonprofit What Kids Can Do) by having students analyze their existing strengths, in order to gain insight about how we develop expert habits of mind and work. As these young people further investigated expertise in their local communities, they came to understand in very different ways the pursuit of excellence in school. The resulting book, Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery, calls teachers and learners to shape a new dialogue and a common language in the service of fostering genuine knowledge-building communities.