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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation


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As a writer and a parent I am very interested in using SMS for good rather than evil. Recent studies have shown that text messaging actually increases a person’s heart rate every time the phone goes DING. The distractions caused by texting in the classroom are something almost every teacher has encountered. However, SMS is also a fabulous tool.

Think about it; short, demanding messages that young people actually like. Learning requires repetition and text messages require reading. For everything from language acquisition to learning the Periodic Table SMS provides an invaluable tool that is currently largely unused in education.

Here is a hypothesis: Texts can improve the self-esteem and the moods of our children.

Forming this hypothesis and looking to explore instant messaging as a self-esteem boosting tool was spurned on by research preformed by Robert S. Weisskirch in 2011. His study published in, “No Crossed Wires: Cell Phone Communication in Parent-adolescent Relations,” Cyberpsycology, Behavior, and Social Networking, July/August 2011, 14 (7-8): 447- 451, showed that parental/child relationships improved when children reached out to parents for social support using texts on cell phones and when they received positive texts and encouragement from their parents related to schoolwork and other activities.

Currently, we are testing this hypothesis out on our son who is developing an unhealthy attitude towards competitive tennis. Tennis is a mind-body sport and as a perfectionist our son has decided that loosing is unacceptable rather than a learning experience. He mentally beats himself to a bloody pulp every time he loses. Constant encouragement and positive feedback has done nothing so far to lessen his sensitivity towards loosing. He loves the sport and won’t stop playing. As a parent, watching all of this is pure agony.

After reading extensively about psychology and tennis we are currently sending our son 3 positive SMS messages about what an amazing person/tennis player he is every day. The idea is that the texts filled with encouragement and love will help to reach into the subconscious section of his brain that we are currently not reaching by talking to him. Will it work? Would it work even better if the messages were from his coach or if he was having trouble with school from his teachers?

With summer approaching are there any other parents/educators who are also interested in using positive, self-esteem boosting texts three times a day to help their children with self-esteem/positive image issues? If so, please start sending SMS and share what you and your children are feeling and learning from the process.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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