Harnessing Choice

This week we published a new issue of Cambium that focuses on choice as it plays out within the Arbor curriculum, in service of teaching literacy or mathematics, P.E. or research skills. Choice turns out to be a vehicle for developing a great many habits and attitudes we prize: independence, yes, but also self-motivation, open-mindedness, collaboration, effort, willingness to dig deep and tackle difficult material. Giving students multiple points of entry into any unit of study is necessary in our mixed-age classrooms, but providing them with choice also helps us ensure that everyone is genuinely engaged and moving toward our greater academic aims.

Teaching for depth as well as granting students leeway requires constant recalibration on the part of the teacher. Knowing when to draw in the reins is as important as sensing when to give students more freedom; our teachers all discuss the real constraints they put in place to guide students toward choices that will lead to productivity and growth. But we always begin by trusting a student’s assessment of the right level of difficulty, the most intriguing topic, or the most promising way forward. His choices give us invaluable insight into the person he is becoming, and those glimpses allow us to make our own choices about how best to support him toward the fullest realization of his individual self.

We hope these articles will provoke thought about where’s there’s room for choice in your own interactions with children, and we welcome an exchange of ideas.

Click here to download the Cambium issue "Harnessing Choice."

Beyond Marshmallows


A lecture by Dr. Walter Mischel
Sunday 23 November 2014
3:00 PM
Lincoln High School Auditorium

Sponsored by Arbor School and hosted by Lincoln High School, this lecture is Dr. Mischel's invited contribution to the community where two of his grandchildren are growing up.

Dr. Mischel's pioneering work on self-control continues to dominate thinking in this crucial arena of development.  With his new book The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control, Dr. Mischel goes beyond thinking about assessing for willpower to understanding more deeply how self-control and executive functions work in the mind and brain, and how they can be enhanced.

Detailed information about Dr. Mischel's new book can be found here.  Click to read book reviews from Elle Magazine and The Economist.  Dr. Mischel also appeared on the Colbert Report to discuss the Marshmallow Test.  

Please join educators, parents, and community members from throughout the region for Dr. Mischel's discussion of self-regulation and the development of the character traits that will enable students to pursue their highest aspirations. 


1 PDU will be available for attending the lecture.  PDU request forms will be available at the registration tables.  

*Dr. Mischel will be signing his new book at Powell's Books on Burnside at 7:30 PM on Friday 21 November 2014.