In my role as educator, parents sometimes ask me what I think about some
educational program or activity. Instead of speaking to any one program, I’d
rather detail behaviors that have, observationally, predicted success in
students at DevBootcamp and the Flatiron School. If an educational program
builds deep, consistent depth in the five listed capabilities, it is “good” and
merits consistent, large investment.
Caveat I feign no scientific rigor for these observations. Attendees at
the schools were / are are assuredly non-representative of the general
population. Additionally, my assessment of their educational background is
based on inferences made from in-person interviews, work product,
In my experiences to date, the biggest signals that predict success for
- A pre-existing ability to stick with reading challenging material without moving
- A pre-existing strategy for “how to study”
- A pre-existing respect and capacity for memorization and drilling
- A pre-existing willingness to be boldly wrong
- A pre-existing willingness to imagine the solution before looking to see if it exists
An ethnic school activity really crushes these five (Hebrew School, Chinese
School). Chess camp might well cover many of these as well. Piano lessons also
strike me as a pretty good winner as well.
Aside: It’s not really and surprise that a bar mitzvah requires all of
these (ceremonially, at the least) because these capacities are the
capacities of one who can care for himself and others i.e. “be a man.”
Among these disciplines, some probably have a quantitative edge, but as long as
the student engages with discipline in disciplines, i.e. process, they will
have a massive edge versus those who have not engaged in such a way.
Additionally, I think the student (child, preferably) should be engaged with
the idea that they’re learning a process that is applicable in many contexts.
Engage them with the idea that how they think can be “thunk” about.
But how to teach learners, students, children, to build these capabilities? I
have some recommendations after the jump.