2/17/2012 1:51:33 PM
While no parent wants a petulant, argumentative teenager, cultivating a skill set for feisty debate in secondary school may be the most effective way to ensure a reasoned adulthood.
Columbia University’s Deanna Kuhn, a psychology professor whose work in cognitive science and education was recently profiled by Miller-McCune, worries argument “based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence” is dying out—yet, in our ever more complex world, is ever more crucial. How, she set out to uncover, could we foster a generation of rational, well-informed citizens to meet the challenges of tomorrow?
Though a geeky staple of secondary education, debate club was not the solution Kuhn investigated. Instead, she went meta. As in, metaphysical.
Kuhn’s subjects were mostly black and Latino students from a public middle school in Harlem, and all 48 were enrolled in a twice-weekly philosophy course for three years. Alongside the class’s curriculum, they researched and debated on controversial issues like animal rights and black market organ sales. “They often debated in pairs,” explains Burns, “not face to face, but online, in a sort of Socratic inquiry via Google Chat.”
Like all new material, the students didn’t initially “get” how to argue with nuance. Their topical stances, according to the article, lacked complexity. Many showed no interest in feedback from their instructors. But, “[b]y the end of year two,” the magazine reports, “they had developed a thirst for evidence.” The young philosophers competed in a year-end showdown structured more like a debate club match, where half-cocked arguments and one-sided perspectives didn’t fly.
For a control group, Kuhn tracked 23 other students who learned philosophy like classic scribes: with their noses in books and pens scribbling essays. At the end of the third year of instruction, both groups took a written exam on yet another unfamiliar topic—a type of assessment for which the traditionally educated kids should be more prepared. But the results were surprising: “[N]early 80 percent of the students in the experimental group were writing essays that identified and weighed opposing views in an argument,” reports Miller-McCune. “Less than 30 percent of the students in the comparison group were doing so.”
In a media landscape hijacked by cable news personalities, internet trolls, and radio blowhards and an education system hijacked by standardized testing companies, these statistics are more than reassuring. They’re—dare I say it—enlightening.
Image by Jon Collier, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/16/2012 3:34:25 PM
This article originally appeared on Care2.
When most of us think of helicopter parents, or helicopter parenting in general, our thoughts are relegated to overeager, but undeniably loving and caring, parents trying to “curate” a playdate, or intervening in an awkward social interaction between their child and a fellow grade school-aged child. Helicopter parenting, for those of us not hip to this colloquialism, is an informal brand of parenting where a parent exhibits a profound level of control over their child’s life and attempts to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children. The assumption is that that after some time, and some humbling gaffs on the part of the parent, these parents learn to ease up and relinquish control a bit, thus paving the road for their children to find their own way through life, make their own mistakes, and fight their own battles. For most parents, this is true, but some parents of the helicopter variety are persistent up to and past college age.
A recent episode of the sketch comedy show Portlandia takes a playful stab at lampooning helicopter parents and showing how successive generations of these overreaching parents can support, as well as stifle, their children. See below (after you suffer through the 10 second ad):
Laughs aside, this issue is not all that exaggerated. According to a recent NPR report, this brand of helicopter parenting often sticks well beyond college age as more helicopter parents are showing up in the workplace, sometimes even phoning human resources managers to advocate on their child’s behalf. Margaret Fiester of the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, says when it comes to parents acting as lobbyists, she’s heard it all — from parents calling to negotiate better salaries or vacation time for their kids to complaining when their child isn’t hired. “Surely you’ve overlooked these wonderful qualities that my child has,” Fiester says parents often tell her. These sorts of interventions by the parent can obviously backfire and put the employer on the defensive, not to mention reflect poorly on the decision-making of the child/possible employee. Think what you may about helicopter parenting, this has become an issue for many companies and corporations looking to hire right out of college. They have had to adapt and, in some cases, make gestures toward the parent like sending parents the same recruitment packages it sends their children, or initiating a “Take Your Parent to Work” day.
While every parent is convinced their child is “special” is it their distinct responsibility to inform the world, or does that responsibility and advocacy rest in the lap of that child? Should the helicopter land and allow for some self-expression and showmanship originating from the child, or in this case young adult?
Image by Jose Kevo, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/9/2012 10:39:40 AM
This post originally appeared on Care2.com.
According to a new study on dehydration and mood, the optimist may view her glass as half full because she drank that water already. While mild dehydration didn’t appear to affect cognitive function in the young women who participated in the study, it did dampen their moods and caused them to perceive tasks as much harder than when well-hydrated.
For the study, which appears in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers induced mild dehydration among 25 subjects and measured their performance on tests of memory, concentration, and mood. When dehydrated, the women were more negative, had trouble concentrating and were “more fatigued, and this was true during mild exercise and when sitting at a computer,” explained University of Connecticut professor and lead researcher Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD in a WebMD story.
Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told WebMD that the study should serve as a reminder to stay hydrated. “Just a small change in state of hydration was enough to affect mood, ability to concentrate, and lead to development of headaches,” he said. Dr. Glatter recommends consuming moderate quantities of water, both during and after exercise.
It turns out that, as actress Jennifer Aniston famously warned last year, not drinking enough water can make you “cranky.” While Jen’s right that regularly filling your water glass could improve your mood, if you want to be really smart, you’ll get that water from the tap.
Image by Harald Groven, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/2/2012 5:21:00 PM
In light of the divisive decision by the Susan G. Komen foundation to defund breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, a new Tumblr has been established called Planned Parenthood Saved My Life. The stories have been pouring in and, wow, are they worth the read.
Some people might see Planned Parenthood as nothing more than a politically charged abortion clinic, but in truth it’s the sole reliable health care resource for women who don’t have insurance. Regardless of your ability to pay, the clinic doles out—without judgment or moralizing—any legal health service necessary, from paps to abortions to cancer screenings, often at no cost. Taking away nearly $1 million in Komen funding will take away the ability of many impoverished women to have their breast cancer detected at all. Hopefully no one thinks life-saving screenings should only be available to women of means or of a certain political stripe, but rather to every woman.
The personal stories on the Tumblr feed reveal an astonishing range of services and the profound lifelong effects of receiving safe, speedy, and nonjudgmental care. Planned Parenthood gave one woman a rush wellness exam so she could donate her kidney to her father, when her regular doctor didn’t have the time to squeeze her in. Her father is alive today. Many, many other women tell stories of free care and much-needed sex education provided quickly in times of dire need—experiences that turned their lives around.
Don’t miss Leena Luther’s story of how Planned Parenthood found her breast cancer. She was between jobs and without health insurance when she discovered a lump in her breast. She tried to get it checked out, “But without insurance it was hard. Specialists all needed referrals. Primary care physicians all needed insurance. I got one nibble of someone who would see me—in a few months for $400. Screw that.” Finally she turned to our nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood:
Not only could they take me right away, the could offer me free care. They had a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure that would pay for any breast exams, ultrasounds, and biopsies, if they proved necessary.
Unfortunately, they did prove necessary. I was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive breast cancer. Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood worked together and saved my life.
Follow @DnlMag on Twitter.
Source: Planned Parenthood Saved My Life
Images by sunsets_for_you and cambodia4kidsorg, licensed under Creative Commons.
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