Leadership for Students Activities - December 2014, NASC Edition - (Page 24)

Lessons for Leaders Practicing Self‑Control J I M PATE R SO N Objective Students will: ■ Learn about self‑control and long‑term rewards of delaying gratification through an exercise based on psychologist Walter Mischel's famous marshmallow experiment Materials Needed ■ One piece of candy or chocolate per student ■ Paper, pencils ■ Videos of students participating in the experiment Time Required ■ One class period Procedure Hand out one small piece of candy or chocolate to each student, and let them know that they may eat the candy immediately, or wait 20 minutes to receive an additional piece. Then, focus on another topic for 10-15 minutes in an attempt to draw attention away from the treats. Discuss situations where holding off on an impulse results in better rewards at a later time. Ask students if they can provide an example of this, and note that the example doesn't have to revolve around a sensory experience. It might involve declining a social event in favor of studying-knowing that the pay‑off will be happy parents or admission into college. The example might also be not repeating a rumor, knowing that avoiding gossip will improve one's reputation. It might include doing a 24 leadership for student activities To discuss the experiment further, ask the following questions: 1. Do you think the study shows anything important about the persons who took it? What do you think it shows? 2. How do you think self‑control can help you be a better student? A better leader? A better person? How might it help in this class or group? 3. Does anyone want to talk about some things they have difficulty controlling in their life? chore in the morning so that there is more time for play after school. Have students consider the multiple opportunities that they have each day to delay gratification-to choose a better reward later by delaying gratification. Next, ask students if they have heard about Walter Mischel's marshmallow experiment. Get them to guess what it might be about, hinting that it has something to do with self‑control. Then provide background on the experiment, which was first conduced at Stanford University in the 1970s. It involved a succession of children who sat at a table with a treat of their choice. If they could resist eating anything for 15 minutes, they would get two treats; otherwise, would they just get one. Researchers followed their progress over 14 years and showed that those who were able to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (they found this out through surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored higher on the SAT college application test. Other tests related to delayed gratification showed those who could resist satisfying an urge immediately were more successful and happier in life. Experts have replicated the test in various ways-with students of other ages and cultures and with various extensions of the test-but have repeatedly shown that the ability to delay gratification is valuable. More recently, they have shown it hinges on a cognitive skill that lets us concentrate on the good feelings that will come from suppressing an urge or perceived need, achieving a goal and, therefore, ignoring tempting distractions. That ability also lets us keep going toward that goal despite frustrations, setbacks, and obstacles-highly applicable skills for leaders. After reviewing the experiment, give the students who have not eaten their candy another piece. Be sure to point out that you can learn to delay gratification and that middle school or high school is actually a great time to do it. Jim Paterson writes for a variety of publications about education issues. He is also a school counselor and was named Counselor of the Year in Montgomery County, MD. He lives in Silver Spring, MD.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Leadership for Students Activities - December 2014, NASC Edition

Editor’s Note
Questions & Answers
Take Note
Being a Leader
From the Director
Sophisticated Selfies: Looking Inward
Teaching Tolerance
Student Leaders Take Responsibility
Middle Level Activities
Lessons for Leaders
Scholarships & Awards
Project Showcase
Activities Exchange
Things to Do

Leadership for Students Activities - December 2014, NASC Edition

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