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17 June 2016

posted 16 Jun 2016, 20:43 by Carolyn Brett
I have chatted with some of you recently about the 'Why Am I?' TV series about the world renowned Dunedin Study. This study tracks the lives if 1037 babies born over the year 1972. There is something like 97% of these 1037 still fully participating in the research. There is also a huge amount of worldwide interest in the study as there aren't any others comparable. If you haven't seen it yet, all 4 episodes are on TVNZ OnDemand. Please find the promo blurb here:

Why Am I?
What determines our personality, health, wealth and happiness? In 1972 the Otago University Medical School embarked on the ultimate nature/nurture test, to study 1037 babies for their entire lives.

In the first episode, the importance of self-control in the early years as the determining factor is discussed. In the wonderful book, 'Willpower - why self-control is the secret to success' by Roy F Baumeister and John Tierney, Walter Mischel's marshmallow test come up a number of times and can also be viewed on 'Why am I?'. You may already be familiar with it, but, if not, you can hear Mischel discussing it on this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcmrCLL7Rtw

As Mischel says, we can support young children to increase their self-control, trust and cognitive skills that will allow them to make good choices. We make choices moment by moment, these add up to an enormous amount of choices over a lifetime. 

Choice is creation. To choose is to create. Through my choices I create my reality. At every moment in my life I have a choice. Moments add up to a lifetime; choices add up to a life. What kind of life do I want for myself? What choices will create this kind of life?

This is why we, parents and teachers together, do need a focus on coaching children to make good choices........while knowing they, like us, may eat the marshmallow too quickly and it's called a learning opportunity!

It's interesting work and reminds us of why the class programmes, especially in the vital early years, are very much focussed on the social and emotional worlds.