Julie A. Cunningham

Academic Advisor

Marshmallows & Me

Marshmallowsphoto © 2008 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)
Today was the first ‘showing’ of a TEDTalk in my room during lunch. ((I am selecting these initially from RichardByrne’s @rmbyrne Free Technology for Teachers post “15 Great Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010”.)) There was exactly one person in attendance…. me. ((I did have one teacher planning to attend, but who needed to stay in her room to supervise the delivery of Valentine’s.)) However, I am sharing this post with my building so that there is a place for asynchronous viewing and discussion that can prompt conversations in the snippets of everyday life.  Please join in!

Things I’m pondering:

  1. Would these results hold true if the children were older? Is there something special about the age? Is it ever too late to learn self-control?
  2. Was anyone else bothered by his definition of successful?  How should we define success?
  3. Can teachers impact their students’ level of self-control? If so, how? What do you do/ not do that helps your students?
  4. Does this tell us anything about a child’s learning style? Or does it say more about their socio-economic background and home environment?
  5. How do we help the ‘marshmallow eaters’ mature?  Do we even need to do that?
  6. Are those who delayed gratification highly motivated by pleasing people? Was that a larger part of the experiment than the treat?
  7. Do we want to be producing a society of people pleasers?  Where do the creative thinkers, the innovators, the dissenters go in that kind of society?
  8. Is there something to learn here about motivation that we can relate to learning?  Did the marshmallow eaters not feel enough personal interest to overcome the task that was set in front of them?

If you had your favorite candy bar placed in front of you, would you wait 15 minutes for the opportunity to get a second one? With that in mind, what do you think this experiment says about children, self-control and learning?

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