Is There a Secret to Raising Smart Kids?

A recent article by Carol S. Dweck suggests there may be! Her article, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” outlines the difference between two mind-sets, namely, a fixed mind-set and a growth mind-set. On the basis of extensive research and studies, she argues that a growth mind-set is the secret to being smart!

What is the growth mind-set? – The growth mind-set focuses on “process” and hard work rather than on talent or intelligence. The growth mind-set places greater importance on learning through effort, hard work and overcoming challenges, and not running from them.

Many people assume that superior intelligence, capability or talent is the key to success. While this definitely helps, it is not necessarily the key, or the only key, to success. Research conducted over more than three decades shows that an overemphasis on intelligence or talent alone may cause feelings of vulnerability and a fear of challenges. Such feelings may stem from the notion that intelligence and talent are innate qualities and therefore pre-determine one’s capabilities and standards for learning and achieving. This is not true.

Tutors, parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in learners through praise for persistence, dedication, and hard work rather than for being clever. Simply telling a learner they are smart can instil a sense of laziness (or a fixed mind-set) because learners feel they are clever enough not to have to work or put in any effort. Such learners may thrive in earlier grades under the impression that not working while still maintaining good grades, means they are smart or gifted. Unfortunately, this ease seldom extends to higher grades and these learner’s results may later plummet. Rather than telling your learner how smart they are, praise them for their effort and what they did right. Tell learners success stories that emphasise and inspire hard work and an appreciation for learning.

Further research indicates that a growth mind-set better equips learners to deal with failure or bad grades. Learners who do not maintain a growth mind-set and have coasted by thinking they are too smart to make an effort, may attribute failure or a decline in grades to a lack of ability or intelligence rather than a simple lack of effort. Learners with a growth mind-set are more inclined to see a challenge or an issue as a problem to be solved instead of an obstacle they don’t have the capability or intelligence to overcome.

Tutors, teachers and parents should encourage learners to see the brain as a learning machine. If we see the brain as a machine that is constantly learning (which it is), then we are more likely to believe that we can expand our knowledge and skill-set through hard work and effort.

We at BrightSparkz Tutors agree that the brain is a learning machine and our tutors pride themselves on helping your learners to overcome any difficulty they may be experiencing through fun, dedication and enjoyment in learning!

If you want to learn more about the growth mind-set, visit http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/ to view the entire article.

How to Write an Essay

We all know the basics of essay writing and most of us are pretty confident in our abilities to write a decent essay. However, there are certain points that are easily forgotten and let’s not forget those annoying little mistakes that sneak their way in and take away marks. Our tutors have offered us a recap of effective essay writing and clarification on a few errors that are easily fixed:

 

 

Firstly, you need to know the difference between a discursive and an argumentative essay.

Discursive Essays: Discuss different views of one particular topic. Every point FOR should have a point AGAINST. It is important not to communicate your own opinion in discursive essays so stay away from using the words “I” and “me”. Be as objective as possible.

Argumentative Essays: Are an argument either for or against something.

 

 

The Writing Structure:

Introduction – The introduction is specifically for introducing the topic that your essay will discuss. At varsity level, your introduction should briefly state the aspects of the topic that you will be writing but it won’t hurt to start doing this in high school. For example, if you are writing an essay discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty, then you will introduce what the death penalty is. You will then state, very briefly, the aspects of the death penalty that you will be discussing.

In an argumentative essay – State what you are arguing in the introduction and give a brief explanation of how you will validate your argument.

In a discursive essay – State what you are discussing and the different views that relate to the topic.

Body – The body of the essay should be the bulk of your writing.

Argumentative Essay – The body of your essay should have one paragraph per point that you make. Then each point must be emphasised and tie back to the introduction.

Discursive Essay – For every point that you make FOR something, you need to make a point AGAINST. Try not to convey any feelings of bias. Use words and phrases such as: However, this said, contrary to, and so on.  You should have one point for and one point against for every paragraph. These two points need to relate to one another in some way and every paragraph needs to relate back to the main topic.

Conclusion – Your conclusion sums up everything that you have discussed in the body of your essay; you MUST NOT make any new points or arguments in your conclusion. Some essays may require you to voice your own opinion in the conclusion but only do this when required.

 

 

Other NB Things to Remember: 

  • Always write short and concise sentences rather than long and pretty ones! While high English may seem like a good idea, essays are most convincing when sentences are short and to the point. Rather make one long sentence into two shorter ones! If you can, then use a period instead of a comma. The same goes for wording; if you can use one word instead of three, then do so.
  • Do not use the word “however” too often. Rather mix it up with; “this said”, “in relation to the above”, “as aforementioned”, “while so and so said this, X and Y said this” and any other similar examples that you can come up with. Varsities are especially strict on this!
  • Do not use word contractions; rather write out the two words. Write, “Do not” instead of “don’t” and “is not” instead of “isn’t”.
  • Never start a sentence with the words, “but” or “and”.
  • Don’t use the same word twice in a paragraph to explain or refer to the same thing
  • Write in the active voice rather than the passive wherever possible.
  • Validate every “fact” that you make (where did you get it from, why is this true?)
  • Book titles are italicised and poem names are in inverted comma
  • Do not use two words together that mean the same thing – this is redundant. How many times have you heard someone say, “I need to enter my PIN number.” PIN is an acronym for personal identification number; so, in the statement quoted above, the word “number” is redundant. Some other examples include ATM machine, HPV virus and ACT test.
  • State what “it” is. Don’t assume the reader knows
  • Eliminate comma splices: When a sentence includes a comma separating two distinct thoughts, it is referred to as a comma splice. If the two parts of the sentence will each stand independently, use a period instead of a comma. If the parts are loosely associated and together from a complete thought, use a semicolon.
  • Do not confuse “who” and “whom”: “Who” and “whoever” are subjective pronouns; “whom” and “whomever” are in the objective case. This means that “who” (and the same for “whoever”) is always subject to a verb, and that “whom” (and the same for “whomever”) is always the object in a sentence. The two sentences below illustrate the easy usage in which “who” is clearly the subject and “whom” is clearly the object. In such simple cases, virtually everyone can determine the proper choice:

Who is that masked man? (“Who” / subject [subjective case])

The men, four of whom are ill, were indicted for fraud. (“whom” / object [objective case])

 

If you are still not 100% sure, our tutors are available to help you.

Happy writing 🙂

Top 10 Universities in South Africa

Many learners may feel unsure about where to enrol for their tertiary education. I have compiled a list of South Africa’s top 10 best Universities. I have assembled this list according to much research, Africa.com, student opinions, reviews and the reputable Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

According to www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, “The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.”

Additionally, Africa.com collected both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which of the many universities in South Africa make the top 10 list. A variety of criteria were considered including the following: a) undergraduate and graduate school reputation among higher education peers; b) student selectivity for entering undergraduate class; c) quality and quantity of faculty research, including depth of research facilities and engagement beyond immediate community, and d) international student ratio—the degree to which institution draws students from outside of its national boundaries.

While no one university is a perfect fit for everyone, I do hope that this list provides some helpful and important information when deciding where to study.

1.) University of Cape Town (UCT) University Of Cape Town

Established in 1829, UCT is South Africa’s oldest university and makes a frequent appearance on yearly varsity ‘best’ lists such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list. The university is considered the top research institution on the continent, with more “A” rated researchers than any other South African university. It is the highest ranked African university in both the QS World and the Times Higher Education world university rankings. According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, UCT places at number 124.

Other than offering the best sports management diploma in the world (as recently bestowed by the Edunivarsal International Scientific Committee), UCT is also considered one of the country’s most environmentally friendly universities. Over the past five years a number of sustainability projects were launched, including Green Campus Initiative, an effort focused on making UCT more environmentally-friendly.
Notable alumni include heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard and at least three Nobel Laureates, including biophysicist Sir Aaron Klug (also a WITS alum), the late Professor Alan MacLeod Cormack, and author JM Coetzee.

2.) University of the Witwaterstrand (WITS) Johannesburg

Wits is considered to be one of the top research universities on the continent and boasts 20 South African Research Chairs, seven research institutes and 20 research units. Just less than 900 academic staff members accommodate over 30,000 students, ten percent of whom are international students.

According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, WITS places between numbers 251 – 275.

WITS University has one of the largest fossil collections in the Southern Hemisphere, 14 museums, 2 art galleries, and 12 libraries.
Noteworthy alumni include former South African President Nelson Mandela (he studied law in the 1940s), political activist Helen Suzman, former judge Richard Goldstone, and businessman Patrice Motsepe. The university is also the alma mater of three other Nobel Prize Laureates; biophysicist Aaron Klug, biologist Sydney Brenner, and author Nadine Gordimer.

3.) Stellenbosch University, Western Cape Stellenbosch University

Located near beautiful wine regions; Stellenbosch University has been deemed one of the top research universities in the country. 28,000 students are taught by 915 lecturers and close to 10 percent of those admitted are international students. Providing accomplished tutors. According to the most recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, the University of Stellenbosch places between numbers 276 – 300

The University’s own iShack system was developed to improve the living situations of those living in informal settlements through the use of a basic solar energy system. The initiative was recently awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help upscale the project. With a strong emphasis of research throughout all departments, its Desmond Tutu TB Centre recently won an international prize for its research on childhood tuberculosis (TB) and its community-based approach to TB and HIV care.

4.) Rhodes University, Eastern Cape

Whist one of the smaller universities, comprising of only 7,000 students, Rhodes University is one of the most diverse, since roughly one quarter of its students are international. Due to its small student base, the student to teacher / tutor ratio is more favourable at one lecturer to about 15 students.

According to the official Rhodes University website, all of its degrees are internationally recognised and the university’s International Library of African Music (ILAM) is said to the “greatest repository of African music in the world”. Additionally, the university’s school of Journalism and Media Studies is thought to be one of the best in the country.
Notable Rhode students include virologist Max Theiler (who was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a yellow fever vaccine), author Wilbur Smith, and internationally recognised journalist Anand Naidoo.

5.) University of Pretoria, Pretoria University of Pretoria

Also considered one of the leading research universities in South Africa, UP offers more than 1,800 programmes at its main campus and hosts more than 50,000 students.

It has the highest research output in South Africa, a position it has held proudly since 1997 and in September last year, the university launched a new research initiative focused on the country’s future energy security, IRT on Energy. It’s also set to become the first university on the continent to offer simulated underground mining training at a Virtual Reality Centre. UP is also home to the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), one of the country’s foremost Business Schools, which offers internationally credited MBA programmes. The university was recently named the top business school in Africa on the UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings list.

6.) University of the Free State, Bloemfontein University of Free State

The University is comprised of three campuses spread across the city, and hosts more than 33,000 students, including more than 2,000 from abroad.
The University prides itself on its 7 accredited Academic clusters, 107 NRF-accredited professors and 18 international research partnerships. The University has also paved the way in forward-thinking, from being the first university in the country to have a Department of Sign Language, and the only institution on the continent that offers a postgraduate programme in Disaster Management.
Noteworthy alum include, Former South African president P.W. Botha, as well as cricketer Hansie Cronje and author Antjie Krog.

7.) University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Hosting over 42,000 students and 1,600 staff, this university is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 2,500 of its students are foreign, having come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), China and India.
Its medical school campus is home to CAPRISA, one of the largest and most effective HIV and AIDS research centres in South Africa. It also produced one of the highest university research outputs during 2010, ranking third overall, and thereby contributing close to 12 percent of the country’s research publications by major universities.
Notable alumni include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Chief Justice Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng, and businessman Sol Kerzner.

8.) University of Western Cape, Cape Town University of Western Cape

During the years of Apartheid, the University of the Western Cape was where many non-white political activists from across the country were able to get an education. Now, 50 years since its establishment, the university hosts 15,000 students of all nationalities and cultures.
Earlier this year, the university achieved the inaugural Green Campus of the Year award for its many environmentally-friendly enterprises, including its recycling projects and the use of solar powered golf carts for campus workers to get around. UWC is also dedicated to the research and development of free and open-source software. It is the only African member of the Open Courseware Consortium.
Political activist Allan Boesak, and Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, have both graduated from UWC.

9.) University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg has four campuses located across the city and caters to just more than 48,000 students, of which 2,000 are international. The university places great importance on research and has over 20 research centres and around 90 rated researchers. Research has improved greatly, most especially in areas of life sciences, physical sciences, literature, language and linguistics, as well as management science and business commerce.

10.) Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town

CPUT has just over 32,000 students enrolled on its two campuses, one in Cape Town CBD and the other in Bellville. CPUT is known for its take in creative, more specialist areas of study and for its practical, hands-on approach to education. This is a beneficial and worth-while consideration for those who are not strictly academically inclined.

 

Brightsparkz is proud to have tutors from UCT, WITS, Stellenbosch, and the university of Pretoria, we also have some tutors from UWC as well.

Your Study Playlists:

Can music help you to study? This is one of the most cited questions both online as well as by those desperate for any help to aid their concentration levels. The answer can fall anywhere between “Listening to Mozart makes you a genius” and “Just be quiet and work.”

Many people will advocate for The Mozart Effect. The Mozart Effect suggest that listening to music, most especially Mozart, and that of a similar calibre, is able to boost one’s spatial-temporal reasoning, or simply put, aids one’s ability to remember things on a more long term basis as well as in finding solutions to various logical problems. However, certain studies refute this Mozart Theorem, calling it exaggerated and overblown. Other doctors’ mention points that validate both sides to the question.

In one study, researches of the University of Illinois found that listening to music in all types of work increased work output by 6.3% over a control group. In another study, dissected at MetaFilter, 56 employees working on basic computer tasks were found to be more productive when there was no music playing over the same period tested with music. Supposedly any one study could either negate or validate the question either proving or disproving the Mozart Theory. Realistically speaking, findings derived across various studies are also not necessarily applicable to each and every person. Ultimately, the answer depends on each individual’s workspace, state of mind, personal attention span, ability to focus on one or more tasks at a time, and more.

But if you are one of those people who enjoy listening to music while working, studying, being tutored or completing a task; then these playlists could be just the thing for you!

 

Super Chilled:

The XX – Missing

Ben Howard – Promise

Daughter – Youth

Any Other Name – Thomas Newman

Mr Probz – Waves (The original and not the radio mix)

James Vincent – Wicked Game

Of Monsters and Men – Slow and Steady

London Grammar – Hey Now

Blue Foundation – Eyes on Fire

Iron and Wine – Such Great Heights

Brenden Canning – Bullied Days

Enya – Watermark

 

Trance and Electro:

Bar 9 – Dancin With the Devil

Phobia – Phobia (DJ Hell mix) [1991/2007]

Stefan Goldmann – Sleepy Hollow [2006]

Berlin Inc – Berlin (Peace Mix)

Feathers of Sound – Water

Above & Beyond – Above & Beyond Live @ ASOT

Airstream – Electra

DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (The chill out mix)

Marcconi Union – Weightless

 

Classical:

SinfiniMusic – Sergei Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43

pietrogold – Chopin Nocturne

SeamlessR – [Old] SeamlessR – Sunset

Saimonse – Saimonse – Without You I’m Nothing

Chronos Archipel – Brain Harmonies, Vol.2

The Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Sleep Music, Vol.1

Nimrod from the “Enigma Variations” arranged for piano

Mozart – Canzonette Sull’aria