Today we are revisiting a Davidson Gifted Database Q&A with Dr. Janette Boazman from the University of Dallas. In 2015, she wrote about character development and how it can be used to teach gifted students about character strengths, hope, grit, zest, optimism, self-control and curiosity. This continues to be a trending topic to this day. She also provided some interesting information about brain development differences in boys and girls, and how these can affect student behavior. View the full article here.
Character Development - Why Is It Important?
Parents, teachers, or administrators - we all want the same thing. We want students to be happy, healthy, and to be in education programs that best fit their academic, physical, social, and emotional needs. We want them to live an integral and productive life. We want our students to move toward thriving across the lifespan.
The path to character development is through positive friendships and positive relationships with others, this includes teachers. Teaching character and helping students develop positive character traits aids in the development of talent, integrity, and ultimately happiness. Through knowledge of what constitutes good character, gifted individuals are better equipped to develop good character and recognize good character in those with whom they align themselves. Those positive relationships help shape the character of the individual and aid in talent development and the development of an integral life.
Hope and Grit
Two important character traits are hopefulness and
grit. C.R. Snyder (1994) defines hope in terms of it being
a cognitive construct that is goal oriented and is created
from the joining of two elemental pieces, 1) agency
thinking, and 2) pathways thinking. Agency thinking is the
personal belief in one’s ability to initiate and maintain
actions toward goal achievement. Pathways thinking is the
personal belief in one’s ability to create routes to goal
achievement. When an individual has agentic thinking coupled with the ability to see and
create multiple routes to a goal then the individual has hope of goal achievement.
Teaching gifted learners to be hopeful in the education setting includes explicit teaching of the
components of hopeful thought as defined by Snyder (1994). Instructors and parents should
have students set long-term and short-term goals, identify pathways toward the goals, and
scaffolding the movement and evaluation of pathways as movement toward goals occurs.
Instructors and parents should help students build positive feelings about their capacity to
move toward goals. They need to give students opportunities to overtly evaluate their feeling
of capacity as they move toward goal achievement.
Angela Duckworth coined the
term grit and defines it as passion and
perseverance toward goal achievement over a long period of time.
Explicitly teaching students that sticking with goals to attainment is important to their
development of grit. Allowing struggle helps the student experience how important tenacity
and perseverance are. Educators should teach students about intrinsic motivation and expect
intrinsic motivation. They must help students find and develop their passions. It is necessary
for educators to focus on altering students’ attitudes about what is possible and bring them to
the belief that the struggle will pay off.
What do educators need to know about the differences in cognitive development between boys and girls?
Girls have statistically significant differences in cortical development and use of the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes of the brain. For girls, the frontal lobe develops more quickly than the frontal lobe of boys which means that girls make fewer impulsive decisions and girls more readily and efficiently use the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes of the brain. Boys show a significant difference in the use of the cortex of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that receives information from the sensory systems, the spinal cord, and other parts of the brain that regulate motor movement. It coordinates voluntary movement. This gives reason to the difference in movement by boys in the classroom.
This translates in to girls being better at multitasking, transitioning, and paying attention. Girls have stronger neural connectors than boys in their temporal lobes. These stronger neural connectors in the female brain allow for more sensually detailed memory storage, better listening skills, and greater use of detail in writing assignments. A girl's hippocampus is larger increasing the girls’ learning advantage, especially in language arts.
Where the female brain uses the cortical areas of the brain for verbal and emotive functioning, the male brain uses these areas for spatial and mechanical functioning. This makes boys want to move objects through space – balls, model airplanes, their arms, their legs. The male brain is better suited for diagrams, pictures, symbols, abstractions, and objects moving through space than for the monotony of words.
If possible, allow boys space to spread out if they need to. This movement can be as simple as allowing them to stand at their desk while answering or asking questions. Have a variety of seating options in the classroom. Varied seating options may lead to a classroom with more movement and noise but boys can actually stay more focused with a little bit of movement.
Boys are also better able to verbalize when they are “doing something.” Boys are able to follow instructions better when they are listed or bulleted instead of written in paragraph form. Don’t allow the boy brain to go into the rest state. Limit the teacher talk to intervals of 10 minutes with activities interspersed. Increase experiential learning by incorporating problem based learning projects.
Let boys and girls choose topics that appeal to them by giving greater choice in what they read and write. Use strategic grouping, offer single-gender learning environments by using single-gender groupings for different purposes in coeducational settings.
Read the full article, "Interview with Janette Boazman on character development and the differences in cognitive development between boys and girls" >
Grit in the Classroom: Building Perseverance for Excellence in Today's Students (Prufrock Press)
Why I'm Tired of 'Grit' (by Dr. Jim Delisle)
View a larger selection of our articles related to gender-specific issues.
View past Davidson Gifted blog posts here >
To support families through the
To support families through the o
The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.