robertogreco + alisongopnik   14

I Embraced Screen Time With My Daughter—and I Love It | WIRED
I often turn to my sister, Mimi Ito, for advice on these issues. She has raised two well-adjusted kids and directs the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine, where researchers conduct extensive research on children and technology. Her opinion is that “most tech-privileged parents should be less concerned with controlling their kids’ tech use and more about being connected to their digital lives.” Mimi is glad that the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) dropped its famous 2x2 rule—no screens for the first two years, and no more than two hours a day until a child hits 18. She argues that this rule fed into stigma and parent-shaming around screen time at the expense of what she calls “connected parenting”—guiding and engaging in kids’ digital interests.

One example of my attempt at connected parenting is watching YouTube together with Kio, singing along with Elmo as Kio shows off the new dance moves she’s learned. Everyday, Kio has more new videos and favorite characters that she is excited to share when I come home, and the songs and activities follow us into our ritual of goofing off in bed as a family before she goes to sleep. Her grandmother in Japan is usually part of this ritual in a surreal situation where she is participating via FaceTime on my wife’s iPhone, watching Kio watching videos and singing along and cheering her on. I can’t imagine depriving us of these ways of connecting with her.

The (Unfounded) War on Screens

The anti-screen narrative can sometimes read like the War on Drugs. Perhaps the best example is Glow Kids, in which Nicholas Kardaras tells us that screens deliver a dopamine rush rather like sex. He calls screens “digital heroin” and uses the term “addiction” when referring to children unable to self-regulate their time online.

More sober (and less breathlessly alarmist) assessments by child psychologists and data analysts offer a more balanced view of the impact of technology on our kids. Psychologist and baby observer Alison Gopnik, for instance, notes: “There are plenty of mindless things that you could be doing on a screen. But there are also interactive, exploratory things that you could be doing.” Gopnik highlights how feeling good about digital connections is a normal part of psychology and child development. “If your friends give you a like, well, it would be bad if you didn’t produce dopamine,” she says.

Other research has found that the impact of screens on kids is relatively small, and even the conservative AAP says that cases of children who have trouble regulating their screen time are not the norm, representing just 4 percent to 8.5 percent of US children. This year, Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben conducted a rigorous analysis of data on more than 350,000 adolescents and found a nearly negligible effect on psychological well-being at the aggregate level.

In their research on digital parenting, Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross found widespread concern among parents about screen time. They posit, however, that “screen time” is an unhelpful catchall term and recommend that parents focus instead on quality and joint engagement rather than just quantity. The Connected Learning Lab’s Candice Odgers, a professor of psychological sciences, reviewed the research on adolescents and devices and found as many positive as negative effects. She points to the consequences of unbalanced attention on the negative ones. “The real threat isn’t smartphones. It’s this campaign of misinformation and the generation of fear among parents and educators.”

We need to immediately begin rigorous, longitudinal studies on the effects of devices and the underlying algorithms that guide their interfaces and their interactions with and recommendations for children. Then we can make evidence-based decisions about how these systems should be designed, optimized for, and deployed among children, and not put all the burden on parents to do the monitoring and regulation.

My guess is that for most kids, this issue of screen time is statistically insignificant in the context of all the other issues we face as parents—education, health, day care—and for those outside my elite tech circles even more so. Parents like me, and other tech leaders profiled in a recent New York Times series about tech elites keeping their kids off devices, can afford to hire nannies to keep their kids off screens. Our kids are the least likely to suffer the harms of excessive screen time. We are also the ones least qualified to be judgmental about other families who may need to rely on screens in different ways. We should be creating technology that makes screen entertainment healthier and fun for all families, especially those who don’t have nannies.

I’m not ignoring the kids and families for whom digital devices are a real problem, but I believe that even in those cases, focusing on relationships may be more important than focusing on controlling access to screens.

Keep It Positive

One metaphor for screen time that my sister uses is sugar. We know sugar is generally bad for you and has many side effects and can be addictive to kids. However, the occasional bonding ritual over milk and cookies might have more benefit to a family than an outright ban on sugar. Bans can also backfire, fueling binges and shame as well as mistrust and secrecy between parents and kids.

When parents allow kids to use computers, they often use spying tools, and many teens feel parental surveillance is invasive to their privacy. One study showed that using screen time to punish or reward behavior actually increased net screen time use by kids. Another study by Common Sense Media shows what seems intuitively obvious: Parents use screens as much as kids. Kids model their parents—and have a laserlike focus on parental hypocrisy.

In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle describes the fracturing of family cohesion because of the attention that devices get and how this has disintegrated family interaction. While I agree that there are situations where devices are a distraction—I often declare “laptops closed” in class, and I feel that texting during dinner is generally rude—I do not feel that iPhones necessarily draw families apart.

In the days before the proliferation of screens, I ran away from kindergarten every day until they kicked me out. I missed more classes than any other student in my high school and barely managed to graduate. I also started more extracurricular clubs in high school than any other student. My mother actively supported my inability to follow rules and my obsessive tendency to pursue my interests and hobbies over those things I was supposed to do. In the process, she fostered a highly supportive trust relationship that allowed me to learn through failure and sometimes get lost without feeling abandoned or ashamed.

It turns out my mother intuitively knew that it’s more important to stay grounded in the fundamentals of positive parenting. “Research consistently finds that children benefit from parents who are sensitive, responsive, affectionate, consistent, and communicative” says education professor Stephanie Reich, another member of the Connected Learning Lab who specializes in parenting, media, and early childhood. One study shows measurable cognitive benefits from warm and less restrictive parenting.

When I watch my little girl learning dance moves from every earworm video that YouTube serves up, I imagine my mother looking at me while I spent every waking hour playing games online, which was my pathway to developing my global network of colleagues and exploring the internet and its potential early on. I wonder what wonderful as well as awful things will have happened by the time my daughter is my age, and I hope a good relationship with screens and the world beyond them can prepare her for this future."
joiito  parenting  screentime  mimiito  techology  screens  children  alisongopnik  2019  computers  computing  tablets  phones  smartphones  mobile  nicholaskardaras  addiction  prohibition  andrewprzybylski  aliciablum-ross  sonialvingstone  amyorben  adolescence  psychology  candiceodgers  research  stephaniereich  connectedlearning  learning  schools  sherryturkle  trust 
march 2019 by robertogreco
On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines - The New York Times
"SOCIAL MEDIA HAS TURNED OUT TO BE THE PERFECT TOOL FOR NONBINARY PEOPLE TO FIND — AND MODEL — THEIR UNIQUE PLACES ON THE GENDER SPECTRUM."



"Around the same time, Moore became aware of a performance-and-poetry group (now disbanded) called Dark Matter. Moore became transfixed by videos of one of its members, Alok Vaid-Menon, who was able to eloquently dismiss conventional notions of gender, particularly the idea that there are only two. Seeing people like Vaid-Menon online gave Moore the courage to reconsider how they approached gender. Moore began experimenting with their outward appearance. Before Moore changed the pronoun they used, Moore had favored a more masculine, dandy-like aesthetic — close-cropped hair, button-down shirts and bow ties — in large part to fit in at work. Moore began wearing their hair longer and often chose less gender-specific clothing, like T-shirts or boxy tops, which felt more natural and comfortable to them. Vaid-Menon’s assuredness, Moore said, “boosted my confidence in terms of defining and asserting my own identity in public spaces.”

A shift in technology emboldened Moore, too. In 2014, Facebook updated its site to include nonbinary gender identities and pronouns, adding more than 50 options for users who don’t identify as male or female, including agender, gender-questioning and intersex. It was a profound moment for Moore. “They had options I didn’t even know about,” Moore told me. That summer, Moore selected “nonbinary,” alerting their wider social spheres, including childhood friends and family members who also used the site. For Moore, it saved them some of the energy of having to explain their name and pronoun shift. Moore also clarified their gender pronouns on Instagram. “I wrote it into my profile to make it more explicit.” To some, the act might seem small, but for Moore, their identity “felt crystallized, and important.”

Several societies and cultures understand gender as more varied than just man or woman, but in the United States, a gender binary has been the norm. “In our cultural history, we’ve never had anything close to a third category, or even the notion that you could be in between categories,” said Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Risman, who recently published a book called “Where the Millennials Will Take Us: A New Generation Wrestles With the Gender Structure,” contrasted her early research with what she is seeing now. Few of the people she interviewed for the book in 2012 and 2013 were openly using nongendered pronouns, if they even knew about them. Just four years later, she began researching nonbinary young adults because the landscape had changed so radically. “It was reflexive with their friends at school, social groups. Many colleges classes start out with ‘Name, major and preferred pronouns,’ ” Risman told me. In Risman’s experience, it used to take decades to introduce new ideas about sex, sexuality or gender, and even longer for them to trickle upstream into society. “What’s fascinating is how quickly the public conversation has led to legal changes,” Risman said. California and Washington, among others, now allow people to select “x” as their gender, instead of “male” or “female,” on identity documents. “And I am convinced that it has to do with — like everything else in society — the rapid flow of information.”

Helana Darwin, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who began researching nonbinary identities in 2014, found that the social-media community played an unparalleled role in people’s lives, especially those who were geographically isolated from other nonbinary people. “Either they were very confused about what was going on or just feeling crushingly lonely and without support, and their online community was the only support in their lives,” Darwin told me. “They turned to the site to understand they aren’t alone.” Most of her subjects said social media was instrumental in deepening their understanding of their identities. “A 61-year-old person in my sample told me that they lived the vast majority of their life as though they were a gay man and was mistaken often as a drag queen after coming out. They didn’t discover nonbinary until they were in their 50s, and it was a freeing moment of understanding that nothing is wrong. They didn’t have to force themselves into the gay-man or trans-woman box — they could just be them. They described it as transcendent.”

When Darwin began her study four years ago, she was shocked to discover that the body of research on nonbinary people was nearly nonexistent. “Even as nonbinary people are becoming increasing visible and vocal, there were still only a handful of articles published in the field of sociology that were even tangentially about nonbinary people and even fewer that were explicitly about nonbinary people.” What little research there was tended to lump the nonbinary experience into trans-woman and trans-man experience, even though all signs pointed to deep differences. The void in the field, she thinks, was due to society’s reliance on the notion that all humans engage in some sense of gender-based identity performance, which reaffirms the idea that gender exists. “There was an academic lag that isn’t keeping with the very urgent and exponentially profound gender revolution happening in our culture.”

Her research found that social media is a gathering place for discussing the logistics of gender — providing advice, reassurance and emotional support, as well as soliciting feedback about everything from voice modulation to hairstyles. The internet is a place where nonbinary people can learn about mixing masculine and feminine elements to the point of obscuring concrete identification as either. As one person she interviewed put it, “Every day someone can’t tell what I am is a good day.”

Nearly everyone Darwin interviewed remarked about the power of acquiring language that spoke to their identity, and they tended to find that language on the internet. But Harry Barbee, a nonbinary sociologist at Florida State University who studies sex, gender and sexuality, cautioned against treating social media as a curative. “When the world assumes you don’t exist, you’re forced to define yourself into existence if you want some semblance of recognition and social viability, and so the internet and social media helps achieve this,” Barbee said. “But it’s not a dream world where we are free to be you and me, because it can also be a mechanism for social control.” Barbee has been researching what it means to live as nonbinary in a binary world. Social media, Barbee said, is “one realm where they do feel free to share who they are, but they’re realistic about the limitations of the space. Even online, they are confronted by hostility and people who are telling them they’re just confused or that makes no sense, or want to talk to them about their genitals.”"



"Psychologists often posit that as children, we operate almost like scientists, experimenting and gathering information to make sense of our surroundings. Children use their available resources — generally limited to their immediate environment — to gather cues, including information about gender roles, to create a sense of self. Alison Gopnik, a renowned philosopher and child psychologist, told me that it’s not enough to simply tell children that other identities or ways of being exist. “That still won’t necessarily change their perspective,” she said. “They have to see it.”

In her 2009 book, “The Philosophical Baby,” Gopnik writes that “when we travel, we return to the wide-ranging curiosity of childhood, and we discover new things about ourselves.” In a new geographic area, our attention is heightened, and everything, from differently labeled condiments to streetwear, becomes riveting. “This new knowledge lets us imagine new ways that we could live ourselves,” she asserts. Flying over feeds in social media can feel like viewing portholes into new dimensions and realities, so I asked Gopnick if it’s possible that social media can function as a foreign country, where millions of new ideas and identities and habitats are on display — and whether that exposure can pry our calcified minds open in unexpected ways. “Absolutely,” she said. “Having a wider range of possibilities to look at gives people a sense of a wider range of possibilities, and those different experiences might lead to having different identities.”

When we dive into Instagram or Facebook, we are on exploratory missions, processing large volumes of information that help us shape our understanding of ourselves and one another. And this is a country that a majority of young adults are visiting on a regular basis. A Pew study from this year found that some 88 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds report using some form of social media, and 71 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 24 use Instagram. Social media is perhaps the most influential form of media they now have. They turn to it for the profound and the mundane — to shape their views and their aesthetics. Social media is a testing ground for expression, the locus of experimentation and exploration — particularly for those who cannot yet fully inhabit themselves offline for fear of discrimination, or worse. Because of that, it has become a lifeline for many people struggling to find others just like them."



"Although social media generally conditions users to share only their highlights — the success reel of their lives — Vaid-Menon thinks it’s important to share the reality of living in a gender-nonconforming body; they want people to understand what the daily experience can be like. “The majority of nonbinary, gender-nonconforming cannot manifest themselves because to do so would mean violence, death, harassment and punishment,” Vaid-Menon told me. … [more]
jennawortham  2018  instagam  internet  web  online  gender  gendernonconforming  culture  us  alisongopnik  maticemoore  alokvaid-memon  barbararisman  helanadarwin  psychology  learning  howwelearn  nonbinary  sexuality  jacobtobia  pidgeonpagonis  danezsmith  akwaekeemezi  jonelyxiumingaagaardandersson  ahomariturner  raindove  taylormason  asiakatedillon  twitter  instagram  children  dennisnorisii  naveenbhat  elisagerosenberg  sevaquinnparraharrington  ashleighshackelford  hengamehyagoobifarah  donaldtrump  socialmedia  socialnetworks  discrimination  fear  bullying  curiosity  childhood  identity  self  language 
february 2019 by robertogreco
What Babies Know About Physics and Foreign Languages - The New York Times
"Parents and policy makers have become obsessed with getting young children to learn more, faster. But the picture of early learning that drives them is exactly the opposite of the one that emerges from developmental science.

In the last 30 years, the United States has completed its transformation to an information economy. Knowledge is as important in the 21st century as capital was in the 19th, or land in the 18th. In the same 30 years, scientists have discovered that even very young children learn more than we once thought possible. Put those together and our preoccupation with making children learn is no surprise.

The trouble is that most people think learning is the sort of thing we do in school, and that parents should act like teachers — they should direct special lessons at children to produce particular kinds of knowledge or skill, with the help of how-to books and “parenting” apps. Studies prove that high-quality preschool helps children thrive. But policy makers and educators are still under pressure to justify their investments in early childhood education. They’ve reacted by replacing pretend corners and playground time with “school readiness” tests.

But in fact, schools are a very recent invention. Young children were learning thousands of years before we had ever even thought of schools. Children in foraging cultures learned by watching what the people around them did every day, and by playing with the tools they used. New studies show that even the youngest children’s brains are designed to learn from this simple observation and play in a remarkably sensitive way.

Young children today continue to learn best by watching the everyday things that grown-ups do, from cleaning the house to fixing a car. My grandson Augie, like most 4-year-olds, loves to watch me cook, and tries manfully to copy what I do. But how does he decide whether to just push the egg whites around the bowl, or to try to reproduce exactly the peculiar wristy beating action I learned from my own mother? How does he know that he should transfer the egg yolks to the flour bowl without accidentally dropping them in the whites, as Grandmom often does? How did he decide that green peas would be a good addition to a strawberry soufflé? (He was right, by the way.)

Experimental studies show that even the youngest children are naturally driven to imitate. Back in 1988, Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington did a study in which 14-month-olds saw an experimenter do something weird — she tapped her forehead on top of a box to make it light up. A week later, the babies came back to the lab and saw the box. Most of them immediately tried to tap their own foreheads on the box to make the light go on.

In 2002 Gyorgy Gergely, Harold Bekkering and Ildiko Kiraly did a different version of this study. Sometimes the experimenters’ arms were wrapped in a blanket when she tapped her forehead on the box. The babies seemed to figure out that when the experimenter’s arms were wrapped up, she couldn’t use her hands, and that must have been why she had used her head instead. So when it was the babies’ turn they took the easy route and tapped the box with their hands.

In 2013 David Buttelmann and his colleagues did yet another version. First, the babies heard the experimenter speak the same language they did or a different one. Then the experimenter tapped her head on the box. When she had spoken the same language, the babies were more likely to tap the box with their foreheads; when she spoke a different language they were more likely to use their hands.

In other words, babies don’t copy mindlessly — they take note of who you are and why you act.

Children will also use what they see to figure out intelligent new actions, like putting peas in a soufflé. For example, in our lab, Daphna Buchsbaum, some colleagues and I showed 4-year-olds a toy with lots of different handles and tabs. A grown-up said, “Hmm I wonder how this toy works” and performed nine complicated series of actions, like pulling one of the handles, shaking a tab and turning the toy over. Sometimes the toy played music and sometimes it didn’t.

The actions followed a pattern: Some of them were necessary to make the machine go and some were superfluous. For example, the children might see that the toy lit up only when the experimenter shook the tab and turned over the toy, no matter what else she did.

Then she asked the child to make the music play. The children analyzed the pattern of events, figured out which actions actually made the toy go, and immediately produced just those actions. They would just pull the tab and turn over the toy. They used their observations to create an intelligent new solution to the problem.

We take it for granted that young children “get into everything.” But new studies of “active learning” show that when children play with toys they are acting a lot like scientists doing experiments. Preschoolers prefer to play with the toys that will teach them the most, and they play with those toys in just the way that will give them the most information about how the world works.

In one recent experiment, for example, Aimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigenson of Johns Hopkins showed 11-month-old babies a sort of magic trick. Either a ball appeared to pass through a solid wall, or a toy car appeared to roll off the end of a shelf and remain suspended in thin air. The babies apparently knew enough about everyday physics to be surprised by these strange events and paid a lot of attention to them.

Then the researchers gave the babies toys to play with. The babies who had seen the ball vanish through the wall banged it; those who’d seen the car hovering in thin air kept dropping it. It was as if they were testing to see if the ball really was solid, or if the toy car really did defy gravity.

It’s not just that young children don’t need to be taught in order to learn. In fact, studies show that explicit instruction, the sort of teaching that goes with school and “parenting,” can be limiting. When children think they are being taught, they are much more likely to simply reproduce what the adult does, instead of creating something new.

My lab tried a different version of the experiment with the complicated toy. This time, though, the experimenter acted like a teacher. She said, “I’m going to show you how my toy works,” instead of “I wonder how this toy works.” The children imitated exactly what she did, and didn’t come up with their own solutions.

The children seem to work out, quite rationally, that if a teacher shows them one particular way to do something, that must be the right technique, and there’s no point in trying something new. But as a result, the kind of teaching that comes with schools and “parenting” pushes children toward imitation and away from innovation.

There is a deep irony here. Parents and policy makers care about teaching because they recognize that learning is increasingly important in an information age. But the new information economy, as opposed to the older industrial one, demands more innovation and less imitation, more creativity and less conformity.

In fact, children’s naturally evolved learning techniques are better suited to that sort of challenge than the teaching methods of the past two centuries.

New research tells us scientifically what most preschool teachers have always known intuitively. If we want to encourage learning, innovation and creativity we should love our young children, take care of them, talk to them, let them play and let them watch what we do as we go about our everyday lives.

We don’t have to make children learn, we just have to let them learn."
alisongopnik  2016  children  learning  unschooling  deschooling  howwelearn  parenting  education  schools  scientists  science  experimentation  observation  davidbuttelmann  gyorgygergely  haroldbekkering  ildikokiraly  andrewmeltzoff  policy  imitation  howweteach  teaching  daphnabuchsbaum  babies  instruction  creativity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
A Manifesto Against ‘Parenting’ - WSJ
"The idea that parents can learn special techniques that will make their children turn out better is ubiquitous in middle-class America—so ubiquitous that it might seem obvious. But this prescriptive picture is fundamentally misguided. It’s the wrong way to understand how parents and children actually think and act, and it’s equally wrong as a vision of how they should think and act.

Taking care of children has always been a central, and difficult, human project. Our children depend on us for much longer than the children of any other animals. By the time they are 7, young chimpanzees gather as much food as they consume. Even in hunter-gatherer groups, human children don’t do that until they’re at least 15.

So you need lots of people to take care of human children, not just mothers but fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, uncles and aunts and siblings and cousins and even friends. Biologists have shown that humans evolved a unique network of care. Unlike our nearest primate relatives, extended family and “alloparents” (unrelated helpers) all combine to take care of those needy kids.

For most of human history, we lived in these extended family groups. This meant that we learned how to take care of children by practicing with our own little sisters and baby cousins and by watching many other people take care of children.

But toward the end of the 20th century, families got much smaller and more scattered, people had children later, and middle-class parents spent more time working and going to school. The traditional sources of wisdom and competence weren’t available any more.

Today, most middle-class parents spend years taking classes and pursuing careers before they have children. It’s not surprising, then, that going to school and working are modern parents’ models for taking care of children: You go to school and work with a goal in mind, and you can be taught to do better at school and work.

Working to achieve a particular outcome is a good model for many crucial human enterprises. It’s the right model for carpenters or writers or businessmen. You can judge whether you are a good carpenter or writer or CEO by the quality of your chairs, your books or your bottom line. In the “parenting” picture, a parent is a kind of carpenter; the goal, however, is not to produce a particular kind of product, like a chair, but a particular kind of person.

In work, expertise leads to success. The promise of “parenting” is that there is some set of techniques, some particular expertise, that parents could acquire that would help them accomplish the goal of shaping their children’s lives. And a sizable industry has emerged that promises to provide exactly that expertise. Some 60,000 books are in the parenting section on Amazon, and many of them have “how to” somewhere in the title."



"If “parenting” is the wrong model, then, what’s the right one? Let’s recall that “parent” is not actually a verb, nor is it a form of work. What we need to talk about instead is “being a parent”—that is, caring for a child. To be a parent is to be part of a profound and unique human relationship, to engage in a particular kind of love, not to make a certain sort of thing.

After all, to be a wife is not to engage in “wifing,” to be a friend is not to “friend,” even on Facebook, and we don’t “child” our mothers and fathers. Yet these relationships are central to who we are. Any human being living a fully satisfied life is immersed in such social connections.

Talking about love, especially the love of parents for their children, may sound sentimental and mushy and simple and obvious. But like all human relationships, our love for our children is at once a part of the everyday texture of our lives and enormously complicated, variable and even paradoxical.

We can work to love better without thinking of love as a kind of work. We might say that we try hard to be a good wife or husband, or that it’s important to us to be a good friend or a better child.

But I wouldn’t evaluate the success of my marriage by measuring whether my husband’s character had improved in the years since we wed. I wouldn’t evaluate the quality of an old friendship by whether my friend was happier or more successful than when we first met. This, however, is the implicit standard of “parenting”—that your qualities as a parent can be, and even should be, judged by the child you create.

The most important rewards of being a parent aren’t your children’s grades and trophies—or even their graduations and weddings. They come from the moment-by-moment physical and psychological joy of being with this particular child, and in that child’s moment-by-moment joy in being with you.

Instead of valuing “parenting,” we should value “being a parent.” Instead of thinking about caring for children as a kind of work, aimed at producing smart or happy or successful adults, we should think of it as a kind of love. Love doesn’t have goals or benchmarks or blueprints, but it does have a purpose. Love’s purpose is not to shape our beloved’s destiny but to help them shape their own.

What should parents do? The scientific picture fits what we all know already, although knowing doesn’t make it any easier: We unconditionally commit to love and care for this particular child. We do this even though all children are different, all parents are different, and we have no idea beforehand what our child will be like. We try to give our children a strong sense of safety and stability. We do this even though the whole point of that safe base is to encourage children to take risks and have adventures. And we try to pass on our knowledge, wisdom and values to our children, even though we know that they will revise that knowledge, challenge that wisdom and reshape those values.

In fact, the very point of commitment, nurture and culture is to allow variation, risk and innovation. Even if we could precisely shape our children into particular adults, that would defeat the whole evolutionary purpose of childhood.

We follow our intuitions, muddle through and hope for the best.

Perhaps the best metaphor for understanding our distinctive relationship to children is an old one. Caring for children is like tending a garden, and being a parent is like being a gardener. When we garden, we work and sweat and we’re often up to our ears in manure. We do it to create a protected and nurturing space for plants to flourish."
alisongopnik  parenting  2016  love  unschooling  deschooling  history  relationships 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Beyond Measure Film
"Every day we hear stories about the troubles in American education: our test scores are stagnant, we’re falling behind our international peers, and our schools are failing to prepare future generations to succeed in the 21st century. For the last decade, this story – and the fear it inspires – has shaped the way we talk about our education system and informed our national education policies.

More pressure. More assessments. More of the same.

But what if the efforts we’ve been pushing so hard in our schools are actually the things that are leaving our education system worse off? What if the initiatives that narrow, standardize and pressure our school environments, are the reasons our children are less engaged in school and less prepared to be thoughtful, capable, contributing adults?

In Beyond Measure, we set out to challenge the assumptions of our current education story.

Rather than ask why our students fail to measure up, this film asks us to reconsider the greater purpose of education. What if our education system valued personal growth over test scores? Put inquiry over mimicry. Encouraged passion over rankings? What if we decided that the purpose of school was not the transmission of facts or formulas, but the transformation of every student? And what if this paradigm-shift was driven by students, parents, and educators, not by politicians and policymakers?

In Beyond Measure, we went in search of those answers and found a revolution brewing in public schools across the country. From rural Kentucky to New York City, we share the stories of schools that are breaking away from our outmoded, test-driven education culture and pioneering a new vision for our classrooms. These are schools that are asking our students to invent, to make, to think beyond their school walls, and to imagine how they can effect change in the world. These are schools that are transforming the roles of students and teachers and putting more faith in the ingenuity of our children. These are schools that see critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity as the bedrock of a good education and the key to success after graduation. And these are schools that are dramatically improving outcomes for children of all backgrounds; schools where practically every student graduates and goes on to finish college.

Beyond Measure fills a void that too many other education stories have left empty – a positive picture of what’s innovative and possible in American education when communities decide they are ready for change."

[see also: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/890507170/beyond-measure ]

[and: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/beyond-measure-revolution-starts-now-mark-phillips ]
education  change  learning  schools  2015  film  documentary  beyondmeasure  racetonowhere  vickiabeles  hightechhigh  howweteach  kenrobinson  danielpink  lindadarling-hammond  alisongopnik  yongzhao  caroldweck  children  competition  unschooling  deschooling 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Unstoppable Learning : TED Radio Hour : NPR
"Why do we put so much effort in making kids think and act like us? In this hour, TED speakers explore the different ways babies and children learn — from the womb, to the playground, to the web."
children  learning  education  sugatamitra  holeinthewall  anniemurphypaul  howwelearn  howweteach  unschooling  deschooling  alisongopnik  ritapierson  relationships  2013  ted 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Preschool lessons: New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire.
"In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: "I just found this toy!" As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised ("Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!") and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, "I'm going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!" and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy.

All of the children pulled the first tube to make it squeak. The question was whether they would also learn about the other things the toy could do. The children from the first group played with the toy longer and discovered more of its "hidden" features than those in the second group. In other words, direct instruction made the children less curious and less likely to discover new information.

Does direct teaching also make children less likely to draw new conclusions—or, put another way, does it make them less creative? To answer this question, Daphna Buchsbaum, Tom Griffiths, Patrick Shafto, and I gave another group of 4-year-old children a new toy. * This time, though, we demonstrated sequences of three actions on the toy, some of which caused the toy to play music, some of which did not. For example, Daphna might start by squishing the toy, then pressing a pad on its top, then pulling a ring on its side, at which point the toy would play music. Then she might try a different series of three actions, and it would play music again. Not every sequence she demonstrated worked, however: Only the ones that ended with the same two actions made the music play. After showing the children five successful sequences interspersed with four unsuccessful ones, she gave them the toy and told them to "make it go."

Daphna ran through the same nine sequences with all the children, but with one group, she acted as if she were clueless about the toy. ("Wow, look at this toy. I wonder how it works? Let's try this," she said.) With the other group, she acted like a teacher. ("Here's how my toy works.") When she acted clueless, many of the children figured out the most intelligent way of getting the toy to play music (performing just the two key actions, something Daphna had not demonstrated). But when Daphna acted like a teacher, the children imitated her exactly, rather than discovering the more intelligent and more novel two-action solution.

As so often happens in science, two studies from different labs, using different techniques, have simultaneously produced strikingly similar results. They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children's learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions."
psychology  play  parenting  lifestyle  toys  2011  via:lukeneff  learning  directinstruction  motivation  discovery  boredom  alisongopnik  pedagogy  howweteach  wcydwt  constructivism  lauraschulz  daphnabuchsbaum  tomgriffiths  patrickshafto  teaching  noahgoodman 
december 2013 by robertogreco
patfarenga.com - Young Children as Research Scientists
"…current research that clearly supports John Holt’s ideas about how children learn…

Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications, Science 28, September 2012: Vol. 337 no. 6102 pp. 1623-1627

By Alison Gopnik

ABSTRACT: New theoretical ideas and empirical research show that very young children’s learning and thinking are strikingly similar to much learning and thinking in science. Preschoolers test hypotheses against data and make causal inferences; they learn from statistics and informal experimentation, and from watching and listening to others. The mathematical framework of probabilistic models and Bayesian inference can describe this learning in precise ways. These discoveries have implications for early childhood education and policy. In particular, they suggest both that early childhood experience is extremely important and that the trend toward more structured and academic early childhood programs is misguided."
lcrpoject  howwelearn  scientificthinking  homeschool  autodidacts  autodidactism  2012  scientificmethod  research  education  learning  unschooling  patfarenga  johnholt  alisongopnik  autodidacticism  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Schools that matter
"People who've heard me talk about middle schools have probably heard me say something like, "this age group has a million legitimate things to worry about every day, and none of them are in our curriculum."

I say this repeatedly because (a) I believe it to be true - that the evolutionary purpose of adolescence is unrelated to our program of schooling - and that (b) those who misunderstand this drive kids between, say, 12 and 25 crazy - and not in good ways - with special damage happening to the 12-16-year-old group, many of whom lose complete interest in what we call "education" and never really return…"
teens  schools  middleschool  teaching  learning  education  2011  irasocol  neuroscience  teenagebrain  unschooling  deschooling  attention  society  capitalism  industrialrevolution  adolescence  youth  tcsnmy  lcproject  maxweber  alisongopnik  laurencesteinberg  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Book Review - 'Reading in the Brain - The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention,' by Stanislas Dehaene - Review - NYTimes.com
"More than any other animal, we humans constantly reshape our environment. We also have an exceptionally long childhood and especially plastic young brains… At this very moment, if you are under 30, you are much more likely to be moving your eyes across a screen than a page. And you may be simultaneously clicking a hyperlink to the last “Colbert Report,” I.M.-ing with friends and Skyping with your sweetheart… the ancient media of speech and song and theater were radically reshaped by writing, though they were never entirely supplanted, a comfort perhaps to those of us who still thrill to the smell of a library… surely, in the end, the story of the reading, learning, hyperlinking, endlessly rewiring brain is more hopeful than sad."

[See also: http://bookfuturism.com/?q=content/future-reading-brain
AND http://snarkmarket.com/2010/4636 ]
bookfuturism  alisongopnik  timcarmody  books  reading  neuroscience  technology  plasticity  learning  media  newmedia  brain  adaptation  adaptability  noamchomsky  stanislasdehaene 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Brains old and young « Snarkmarket
"Put these two [articles from the NY Times] together, and you get a pic­ture that’s even more hope­ful. Our brains aren’t just plas­tic over the span of human evo­lu­tion or his­tor­i­cal epochs, but over indi­vid­ual lives. It might be eas­ier and feel more nat­ural for chil­dren, whose brains seem to us to be noth­ing but plas­tic­ity. But we don’t just have a long child­hood — to a cer­tain extent, our child­hood never ends."

[see also: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/books/review/Gopnik-t.html AND http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03adult-t.html AND http://bookfuturism.com/?q=content/future-reading-brain ]
neuroscience  brain  science  plasticity  childhood  evolution  adaptability  newmedia  cv  memory  psychology  generations  alisongopnik  stanislasdehaene 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Alison Gopnik, The Philosophical Baby - B&N Review
""Children are unconsciously the most rational beings on earth," says Alison Gopnik, "brilliantly drawing accurate conclusions from data, performing complex statistical analyses, and doing clever experiments." And not only does empirical work reveal this about babies and small children, but what is thus revealed throws light on some of philosophy's more intriguing questions about knowledge, the self, other minds, and the basis of morality."
alisongopnik  education  children  psychology  rationality  books  religion  reason  knowledge  self  morality 
july 2009 by robertogreco
THE WORLD QUESTION CENTER 2008: What have you changed your mind about? - Alison Gopnik
"I still think that we're designed to find out about the world, but that's not our most important gift. For human beings the really important evolutionary advantage is our ability to create new worlds."
alisongopnik  humans  play  playtheory  learning  imagination  ideas  childhood  academia  children  creativity  evolution  fiction 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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