SANTA FE, NM – Geoffrey Moon is a Gifted Education Specialist within the Services for Advanced and Gifted Education Department for the Santa Fe Public Schools. He first heard Josh Waitzkin speak at the National Association for Gifted Children conference in 2009, and has maintained an interest in bringing The Art of Learning principles to New Mexico public school students since that time.
“Josh’s story is a fantastic platform for allowing kids to look at what being pushed does to them and what making their own push and following their own bliss does for their motivation and their talent development,” Moon explains. “I think the book is pretty authentic… in the way it speaks from the first person, unlike a lot of the materials we use that come from a “you ought to” approach. It also breaks down some of his lessons learned in a way that allows students to explore each one and say ‘Do I need to internalize this? Does this affect me, or is it about somebody else and how am I different?’”
The Santa Fe public school system is in the process of expanding their gifted education programs to include greater numbers of minority students, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students than have historically participated. As part of this push, Moon is developing a seminar course for 8th and 9th grade students who have been identified as gifted or potentially gifted. He emphasizes the importance of helping these students develop breadth, observational skills, and critical thinking skills in order to understand themselves as learners and embrace challenge, rather than allowing them to develop a learning path exclusively in response to the skills they believe they already possess.
Throughout this course, students will read The Art of Learning, explore and discuss concepts from the book that are applicable and identifiable to all the students, and then begin to explore how they will each challenge themselves moving forward. As a culmination to the seminar, each student will create a self-development plan to carry with them beyond high school. It will serve as a dossier with current strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and interests, as well as plans for next steps after leaving high school and being on their own. Moon’s hope is that this plan will support these students as they transition into college and beyond, and encourage them to continue to stretch and grow as learners, independent of the high school support system.
RICHMOND, VA – Scott Rohlwing created MP4P to address what he saw as the lack of emotional intelligence and performance psychology instruction for adolescents in both athletic and academic environments. “As a society, we’ve become so busy that tasks supersede just about everything. Many people are growing up not understanding Emotional Intelligence, relationship skills, coping skills, and mental strategies,” Rohlwing told the JWF. “I thoroughly believe that emotions are extremely important and the more we are educated on emotions, the more aware we are, and the more we can manage emotions, the better performers we will become and ultimately, better people. Embrace your emotion, acknowledge it, enhance it.”
Rohlwing is currently teaching a Mental Performance course to adults at the University of Richmond’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. In this course his students explore the ideas of Emotional Intelligence and Performance Psychology through learning principles such as Investment in Loss, Beginner’s Mind, Using Adversity, Making Smaller Circles, Downward Spiral, Stress and Recovery, and Power of Presence.
He is further developing the MP4P program with a local volleyball club, and plans to expand to a variety of youth programs such as gymnastics, soccer, and football. Ultimately, he hopes to expand to offering elective courses in middle schools and high schools through mobile learning and online micro-lessons.
COLUMBIA, MD – OPTI is a holistic preventive healthcare network and performance training institute dedicated to educating people about how to use movement, nutrition, recovery, psychology, and mindset to care for themselves in all aspects of their lives. Corey Beavin, a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Director of Education and Internships, explains “Just as you need to learn basic algebra to do your taxes, or literacy in order to get by in the world, you need to be educated about how to take care of your physical body. Rather than being attached to the outcomes of your weight or what you can lift, this needs to be a process-oriented approach.”
The entire OPTI team of personal trainers, physical therapists, and nutritionists has begun to use The Art of Learning principles with their individual clients. In addition, they are bringing Resilience based principles such as Investment in Loss, Beginner’s Mind, and Using Adversity into their physical education initiative, which aims to teach principals and physical education teachers across the nation about providing their students with sustainable solutions for their physical lives. “I heard Josh speak and listened to his book and it completely aligned with my life and mission to change the education system of people, specifically in the realm of health as it relates to movement,” Beavin told the JWF. “The JW Foundation is an amazing resource and partner in people learning the realities of how to continue to gain competency in movement which, in its foundation, is a process-oriented, self-regulated behavior that views adversity as a learning challenge.”
New York, NY – Lu Chihlan teaches a Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture course at Manhattan High School for Girls and in an afterschool class for kindergarten through fifth grade students at PS 3, is a Culture Workshop Instructor for elementary students at the China Institute, and a tutor for the Chinese Flagship Program at Hunter College. In addition, she is actively involved in the campaign to develop a community middle school within her home district.
Chihlan explained her desire to bring The Art of Learning principles to all of her students because of the powerful impact the book had on her when she first read it. “After my son’s teacher showed me this book, lots of puzzle pieces came together for me in understanding the power of inter-disciplinary studies and the process from knowledge input to internalization, through interconnection to creative output and performance.”
In her high school course, Chihlan uses the Resilience module, with a specific focus on Beginner’s Mind and Using Adversity, to support her students in exploring their interests in Asian culture and preparing them to be global citizens. She incorporates principles such as Investment in Loss and Value Process Before Results through in-class review and reflection on drafts of project assignments.
With her younger students, Chihlan weaves Beginner’s Mind into their Chinese language instruction. “I take them to a garden nearby and take advantage of the environment where they are relaxed and comfortable while teaching concepts like colors and flowers and nature in Chinese, turning the language challenge into excitement and inspiration. Our project-based curriculum also allows us to practice Using Adversity in the process.”
PENSACOLA, FL – Barbie Nall teaches a variety of subjects to 6th through 12th grade students in a drug and alcohol residential treatment center. In addition to providing the students with the academic coursework necessary to reach or maintain grade level standards, the program aims to give the students tools to learn positive coping skills necessary for developing healthy relationships, solving problems, and avoiding triggers.
“Having already faced many obstacles, the students need multiple avenues of encouragement to better their lives,” Nall explains. “Some students have never had a stable environment and need to know how they can make life better for themselves. The book, along with the study guides, will help the students realize how to make that difference.”
Nall plans to share The Art of Learning with the counselors and director of the program and possibly have the students read and discuss the book. In this way, the students will not only encounter the concepts in class, but in their counseling sessions and the dormitory as well. In addition to the book discussion, Nall will incorporate Resilience principles such as Value Process Before Results, Investment in Loss, Beginner’s Mind, and Using Adversity into the break periods using kinesthetic activities.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA – Nikola Tošic is an improvisational jazz musician who facilitates creative music making workshops to students of varying ages and musical experience and teaches music in a free afterschool program for children in an underserved community.
His initial connection with the JW Foundation was as a contributor to our Learning Journal with his piece entitled Loving the Game of Making Music.
After exploring his personal relationship to The Art of Learning principles, Tošic began to think about how he could further incorporate these concepts into his teaching. “The Art of Learning has had a major role in reshaping my approach to obstacles and adversities, unlearning, maintaining presence, and cultivating quality in life. It feels natural to share this information and these experiences with my students,” he explains.
Within his creative music making workshops, Tošic is using learning principles such as Value Process Before Results, Investment in Loss, Beginner’s Mind, Breaking Down Walls, Internal Solution, and Downward Spiral to help his students embrace the process of working collaboratively to create something new.
“I try to have open discussions on ‘what just happened’ in the workshops which allows the participants to share what they noticed during a creative exercise (like a social dynamic, a problem-solution, coincidences etc). The nature of collaborative composition is that there are always obstacles, which usually need to be overcome in a novel way. ”