The fall athletic season is complete (except for the varsity field hockey team that is moving on to play in the New England playoffs on Wednesday against the Gunnery School), the Theater Department put on a fantastic show over the weekend, and exams are just a week away. While students may be anxious for the final two weeks of the term and the significant amount of academic work that awaits them, they must take a minute to also reflect on the past eight weeks and all they’ve accomplished. This TED Talk
by Dan Ariely discusses seven studies that provide insights into what makes us feel good about our work. The talk and associated article (linked here
) seem timely for both students and faculty as we approach this final stretch before a week-long break between terms. If you have time, I encourage you to watch the Ted Talk below:
In the talk, Ariely cites seven factors that shape our views about work: Seeing the fruits of our labor may make us more productive. The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it. The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it. Knowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivation. The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules. Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance. Images that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus.
As an educational institution, we try to immerse students in a community that challenges each other to work hard and consistently recognizes each other’s efforts. According to Ariely, ensuring greater meaning to the work we are requiring is also important. In this previous post
, I reflected on the aims of end of term assessments. Testing knowledge is important, but connecting students to their world remains critical. End of term evaluations will vary tremendously from iBook projects to cost analysis of the Proctor Ski Area, to robotics competitions. Students will be writing papers, taking tests, doing research, getting involved in the community and ultimately sharing their knowledge with others.
We have already seen the culmination of a term’s hard work in athletics and in the arts, and we are excited to see each of our students finish the Fall Term with enthusiasm and an understanding that their work is valued.