Monthly Archives: October 2015

Kids are fully human

“[W]hat has struck me the longer I have worked with children is how much they are like adults, how little I need, on some level, the philosophies of Jerome Brunar, Piaget, Lev Vygotzkgy”

“I will share a new song, but so will the children. I will teach table manners, but so will the children. I’ll comfort when child is hurt or when there’s a dispute, but sometimes the children do this with more ease and grace than us adults.”

“In a universal way a toddler will handle a problem often in a way I would admire, laughing with a friend and looking deeply into her friend’s eyes until the friend is laughing. Coming to watch and observe a friend who is crying, to see what is wrong and how to help. Organizing a game which pulls others in and makes one and others happy, interested, engaged, purposeful.”

Well said.

excerpts from a post at: Maria West’s blog

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Filed under kids are complete people, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Stress may actually be good for you

Stress may actually be good for you. Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal and George Mason professor Todd Kashdan explain the evolving research on pressure.

Not just fight or flight.

“There’s a lot of evidence that you can have a stress response that makes you more caring, not more hostile. You can have a stress response that helps you grow, become stronger and smarter, not necessarily weaker and more exhausted. And we don’t totally know yet all of the determinants of why you have a stress response that helps you thrive while another person that has a stress response that really isn’t helpful,”

And cue the TED Talk:

A study “tracked 30,000 adults over eight years. The study asked participants the simple question: “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?” They also tracked death records for these people over the eight-year period. The ironic outcome: people who died from stress died not from stress but from the belief that stress was bad for them. Those who didn’t believe it was harmful experienced no negative effects on their health.”

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Filed under contrarian, stress

That playground that looks like a wooden castle…

That playground that looks like a wooden castle… where did it go?

Just figured out the name of the company that built a number of playgrounds in the eastern Massachusetts area that look like castles… Leathers & Associates

Many of them have been dismantled, but it’s interesting that Littleton MA is saving and renovating theirs. I am not quite sure how it’s possible, as you can read about the many hazards that are reported on at the link at the Lincoln MA site below, but hey, the company still exists, so obviously they have figured out how to make similar designs work that DO meet these much improved safety requirements.

Leathers & Associates

Castle in the Trees in Littleton, MA

Field of Dreams in Salem NH

Hannah Williams playground in Wayland MA (now dismantled and replaced with something else)

Strat’s Place Playground next to the Hartwell School in Lincoln MA (now dismantled)

safety audit

Our kids played at three of these when they were little and they liked them, but sure, I especially saw how there were lots of opportunities for bonking heads or “head entrapment” I think the audit describes. Great designs though so glad to see that the company is still around.

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Filed under history, local, playgrounds

Bored of Directors

Interesting… reading the corporate bylaws of the kids’ school — Sudbury Valley School​. They are on the board of directors — all students and staff “teachers” are. And yesterday at their weekly meeting, the board (“School Meeting” — like “Town Meeting”) elected the new officers and clerks of the corporation thru next Sept. Some positions are commonly held by staff, but others, including the president of the corporation “School Meeting Chairperson”, the law clerk, and the elections clerk are usually students.

But also interesting… my kids aren’t yet interested and didn’t know about the election, which is fine too.

Related and funny:
Nikole Beckwith (SVS alumna) tells the story of her becoming JC Clerk (judicial committee) and telling the principal of her former school

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, SVS alumni

smartphones/devices mess with us, but it is fixable

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.
This was an interesting article but is probably one of those cases where you can more or less skip the book and just stick to the article and TED talk (if there is one).

And this article suffers from a problem that many (myself included of course!) suffer from… jumping from point to point, or mashing several somewhat related points together. And supporting them with a mix of unrelated short term studies and personal anecdotes including references to studies or “research” but no actual references.

One with a reference:
“…a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the decline taking place after 2000.”

“… 2014 study of children at a device-free outdoor camp. After five days without phones or tablets, these campers were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group.”

“Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. ”

So when she writes “In our hearts, we know this, and now research is catching up with our intuitions.” in some ways this article is nothing new… since the article itself is half anecdotes.

– family-time
– solitude
– self-talk
– conversation
– drastic decline in empathy since 2000
– uni-tasking vs multi-tasking
– choosing to NOT carry a phone
– “app generation” (again, where is the study?)
– “seven minute rule” (a thing?)
– “three person rule” (a thing?)
– study: even phones off in-view cause problems
– “technologies to which we are vulnerable” (a way of saying that tech is not neutral)

So I dunno… I doubt I will read the book. I read (or tried to read) one of her previous books in 1997 and I don’t remember thinking it was saying much that couldn’t have been put in a magazine article or TED talk. Could have been a good article, but maybe should have stayed that?

(Sherry Turkle is a professor in the program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. and the author, most recently, of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” from which this essay is adapted.)

Windows 7 Commercial – Be Here Now

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Filed under person: Sherry Turkle, smartphones, technology