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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raising Smart Kids in Two Easy Steps

Slashdot links to a Scientific American article titled "The Secret to Raising Smart Kids: Hint: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life." (Apparently, SciAm likes long titles.) There's a lot of work done in the margins on positive psychology, but two of the biggest factors are pretty simple:

  1. Make sure your mate is smarter than you

  2. Make sure your kid's friends are harder working than him

Of course, the main purpsoe of parenting isn't the creation of a high-achieving next generation. It's love. But high achievement doesn't necessarily hurt.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More on school reform

I think one can reasonable sum of the developmental environment of a born-citizen of the United States as such:

0-18: stasis within natural bounds.
18-beyond: competitive free-markets in nearly all fields

Wouldn't it be more valuable to focus in teaching skills until the beginning of adolescence, and then focusing on career- and success- goals once adolescence begins?

(gnxp talked about this years ago, by the way)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Evolutionary Cognitivism, Part VI: More Than Genes

The central realization of Bjorklund & Pellegrini's text is on page 335: "Evolutionary developmental psychology assumes that not only are the behaviors and cognitions that characterize adults the product of natural selection, but so are characteristics of children's behaviors and minds." For too long educators have assumed that children are incompetent adults when in fact they are competent, and adapted, as children. When we ignore this, or fight this, we place outside normative concerns about the vital task of educating children.

To their credit, the authors tackle this subject. They write that "formal school may represent the best example of the 'evolved-mechanisms-are-not-always-currently adaptive principle" (340). Bjorklund & Pellegrini are surely write on the same page that "just because some tendencies... are 'naturally'' based on evolutionary examination does not mean that they are morally 'good' or inevitable," surely it is morally wrong to ignore these differences out of a concern for political correctness. If our job as educators is to get the best from every student, then we must leverage the nature of those students.

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