Goldilocks arrested for vandalism

In Goldilocks and the Cops, the “crazy” blonde intruder doesn’t get away. Momma Bear calls the police, who handcuff Goldilocks and charge her with breaking and entering, vandalism and “general uncontrolled behavior.”

A parent complained when the story was taught in a third-grade class at an East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania school. Miguel Velez said the story is offensive to police and includes inappropriate language (“crazy”), reports the Pocono Record. Board member Ronald Bradley, a former police officer, also disliked the story’s portrayal of police.

I remember as a child thinking that Goldilocks had no right to go into someone else’s house, eat their food  and break their chairs.

The Gummy Worm test

Given a choice between eating a gummy worm now — or waiting and getting two gummy worms — a little girl finds a creative way to control her appetite.

LEGO introduces female lab scientist

LEGO’s new female scientist “minifigure” helps break stereotypes that discourage girls from considering STEM careers, writes Maia Weinstock, a Scientific American guest blogger.

Originally, LEGO people wore very simple clothing and had “two dots and a curved smile for a face,” writes Weinstock. Minifigures were introduced in 1978.

The first female minifig in LEGO’s Space series was an
Cover edit 3
astronaut in the Ice Planet 2002 series, which depicted scientists working on the fictional planet Krysto.

LEGO’s Town (now City) series, which features minifigs in everyday life, includes doctors, EMTs, engineers, astronauts and space scientists. A Town doctor was the first female minifig in the series.

Most STEM professionals issued recently have been male, including the Computer Programmer, which debuted last year. He’s a cringe-worthy stereotype, writes Weinstock. Cover edit 3 “His nerdy attire, including bow tie and broken glasses, harkens back to an era and style that rendered programmers completely uncool.” (Are they cool now?)

LEGO also has a thing for mad scientists. The first one “wore a lab coat, a stethoscope, and a patently diabolical face.” Now there’s a wild-gray-haired Crazy Scientist, though he doesn’t look quite so evil.

Here are some examples of male and female minifigures in STEM-related professions.

Examples of male and female minifigures in STEM-related professions

 

Just eat the damn marshmallow

In their zeal to produce self-regulating, calm, marshmallow-postponing students, schools are failing non-conformists, writes Elizabeth Weil in The New Republic. Do we want a generation of Stepford Kids?

In the infamous Stanford marshmallow experiment in the late ’60s, nursery school kids were left in a room with a marshmallow and told that if they didn’t eat it they’d get two marshmallows later. One third were able to defer gratification. The tots with self-control went on, “or so the psychologists say, to show the straight-and-narrow qualities required to secure life’s sweeter and more elusive prizes: high SAT scores, money, health,” Weil writes.

Her daughter is not a marshmallow kid. In second grade at a private school, she resisted “the sit-still, raise-your-hand-to-speak-during-circle-time program.” The teacher didn’t discipline her. He recommended occupational therapy.  Teachers don’t punish, Weil writes. They “pathologize.”

She met a Seattle mother whose son was referred for testing because he had trouble sitting crossed-legged. The mother “learned every one of the boys in her son’s class had been referred out for testing.”

Another family, determined to resist such intervention, paid for an outside therapist to provide expert testimony to their son’s Oakland school stating that he did not have a mental health disorder. “We wanted them to hear from the therapist directly: He’s fine,” the mother said. “Being a very strong-willed individual—that’s a powerful gift that’s going to be unbelievably awesome someday.”

Punishing students for misbehavior has been “problematic” for teachers since the 1975 Goss decision, says Jonathan Zimmerman, an education historian at New York University. The Supreme Court found that schoolchildren  have due process rights. “As a result, students can say to teachers with some authority, ‘If you do that, my mom is going to sue you.’ And that changes the score.”

Instead of controlling students through rewards and punishments, teachers are supposed to get students to control themselves. Social and emotional learning (SEL) teaches self-regulation to produce a “good student, citizen, and worker” who won’t use drugs, fight, bully or drop out.

However, there’s no evidence SEL improves academic achievement, Weil writes. Meanwhile, as small children are expected to show more self-control, diagnoses of attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are soaring.

When I asked Zimmerman, the New York University education historian, if schools had found a way to deal with discipline in the wake of the students-rights movement, he said: “Oh we have. It’s called Ritalin.”

The push for self-regulation coincides with a sharp decline in measures of independent thinking, Weil writes.

The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking judge originality, emotional expressiveness, humor, intellectual vitality, open-mindedness, and ability to synthesize and elaborate on ideas. Since 1984, the scores of America’s schoolchildren have dropped by more than one standard deviation; that is to say, 85 percent of kids scored lower in 2008 than their counterparts did in 1984.

Suppressing feelings is mentally draining, according to Stanford Professor James Gross, author of the Handbook of Emotional Regulation.

The federally funded Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is pushing its model for social-emotional learning, pre-empting other ideas, some educators complain.

Self-regulation and “grit” may be “lost in translation” in the classroom, writes Sarah Sparks on Ed Week‘s Inside School Research.

Kindergarten kids on first day of school

Kindergarten Kids Explain Their First Day of School.

Four million children will start kindergarten this year. Compared to new kindergarteners 10 years ago, these children are more racially and ethnically diverse, more than twice as likely to qualify for a subsidized lunch and more likely to live in neighborhoods their parents describe as safe, according to Child Trends.

A mom decides: Gun play is good for boys

When her sons were young, Christine Gross-Loh gave them blocks, puzzles and cooperative games, but no guns. She’s changed her mind about toy guns, she writes in The Atlantic.

When her older son was four, he got a plastic toy gun in a birthday party goodie bag.

My son was utterly riveted. I tried to coax it away from him. “Bang bang!” he shouted, running around with the other kids. Just days later my shy little two year old fixated upon a toy sword that came with a pirate toy someone had given him, and would not go anywhere without it. I could see that the ludicrously small sword made him feel brave.

When the boys were three and five, the family moved to Tokyo, where boys play “all sorts of rough-and-tumble war games.”

Our Japanese public elementary school even gave out water guns to all the kids at a summer festival every year. Every single child got one — even three-year-old siblings. The first time I saw the kids screaming with laughter as they shot at each other over and over in the schoolyard, I was surprised by how the adults could be so blasé. They didn’t just tolerate the play: the teachers and even the principal helped fill the kids’ guns with water and ran around shooting and battling alongside their students. They actually encouraged the children, both boys and girls, to play with toy guns.

Almost no Japanese adults own firearms, Gross-Loh writes. There are very few shooting deaths.

. . . ever since living abroad in a society where young kids are allowed so many outlets for their energy, I have come to believe that one of the secrets of Asian boys’ self-regulation is the way that aggressive play is seen as a normal stage of childhood, rather than demonized and hidden out of sight.

Research doesn’t show that gun play desensitizes kids to violence, Gross-Loh writes. “Play helps children learn how to signal each other: this is fantasy.”

Imaginary play hones self-regulation, which is essential for school success but has declined in recent decades. (Today’s five year olds have the self-regulation skills of a three year old 60 years ago). Research has found that incorporating preschool boys’ interest in weapon play rather than banning it entirely leads them to play longer, more elaborate games that go beyond mere weapon play.

Worried about boys falling behind girls in school, the British education ministry has urged preschool teachers to allow boisterous play, including play with toy weapons, Gross-Loh writes.

The immigrant advantage

In some racial and ethnic groups, children of immigrants are outperforming children of U.S.-born parents, according to Diverse Children, a Foundation for Child Development study.

For example, black children of immigrant parents do better then their native counterparts in income level, parent education and employment and high school graduation.

Overall, children of immigrant families are more likely to be poor and to do poorly in school than are children of native families, notes Ed Week‘s Inside School Research. However, immigrant families have some advantages.

Regardless of ethnicity, children of immigrant parents were as or more likely than children of native families to have parents with secure jobs, and less likely to live in one-parent families. Moreover, for all groups except Asians, immigrant families tend to move less frequently than U.S.-born families; that could be a benefit, in terms of stability and school continuity, but less helpful if it signals families trapped in segregated low-income neighborhoods.

Hispanic immigrant families struggle financially: 71 percent of Hispanic children of immigrants are in lower-income families with a median income of $33,396. However, that’s higher than the median household income for black children of native parents, $29,977.

The median income of white and Asian families — regardless of immigration status — ranges from the mid- to high-$70,000s

Fourth-graders who speak English as a second language do nearly as well as native speakers on NAEP exams, but the racial/ethnic achievement gap is wide.

NAEP Below Proficient.JPG

High school graduation rates are higher for children of white and black immigrants, but lower for children of Hispanic and Asian immigrants. “Moreover, children from immigrant families were less likely to be disconnected—out of school without a diploma or a job— than students from U.S.-born parents,” the study found.

Friends

This 1973 photo of five children playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral on the Internet. The children were Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.
This 1973 photo shows Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.

Joe Crachiola/Courtesy of The Macomb Daily

This 40-year-old photo of kids playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral, reports NPR. Joseph Crachiola, who took the feature photo in Mt. Clemens, Michigan for his newspaper, recently posted the photo on Facebook. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, the photographer hopes adults can learn from the innocence and acceptance of children.

“It was a very simple picture of innocent children being themselves,” he said. “But you have to remember the context it was taken in. This was five years after the Detroit riots and right in the middle of the busing controversy between Detroit and the suburbs.”

Robert Shelly, now 46, works for the Macomb County Road Commission as a mechanic. His sisters also stayed in the area. Kathy and Chris Macool live in Texas, where their family moved in 1975.

A reunion of the five is possible, reports AP.

“My mother raised us to be color blind,” Kathy Macool told AP. “You treat people the way you want to be treated. I was asked by someone if there was any racism when I was a child. I don’t know, I don’t remember, but I know there is now. I think racism is way worse today than it ever was.”

“It didn’t matter back then to us what your color was, we never thought about that,” said Shelly. “My mother taught us to love everybody.”

Goodnight iPad

In Goodnight iPad, Ann Droyd (possibly a pseudonym) adapts the children’s classic for a new generation that has trouble disconnecting.

Hello, Goodnight Moon

Yesterday, as commenters were discussing reading to children, I discovered my daughter’s old copies of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Corduroy, Tasha Tudor’s 1 is One and others, plus the “activities book” I bought her at a fair when she was a baby.

In a few weeks, my mother will leave the house where she’s lived for 40 years — we’ve already sold it — and move to assisted living near me and my sister. We need to make room to store things for her, so we’ve been de-cluttering.

Three of our four children have papers, books, photos, posters, CDs, clothing and “unwanted stuffed animals” (three boxes) in our house and garage. We’ve been sorting things into garbage, recycling, giveaway and need-to-keep piles, finding missing treasures and getting rid of our own excess junk. Yesterday, I donated seven Styrofoam coolers to RAFT, which collects supplies for teachers. All the junk electronics is going too.

It’s not easy. I decided to throw out my brother’s things, mostly videotapes from his work at a cable TV station in Guam. He died 15 years ago at the age of 42 of cardiac arrythmia. The children’s books were under a file of his bills.

I keep my old children’s books in my office; I’ve added Allison’s. Perhaps I can read A Pocket for Corduroy to the grandkids, four and two years old, who will be visiting soon. They leave the day my mother arrives.

If I seem a bit distracted, that’s why.