Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some Good Reads...

  • Jameel & JBM discuss Tzohar's trying to give their own hechsher on heter mechira where the Rabbanut won't. Interesting.
The rest all via Freakonomics, which is sometimes really interesting, though it's on and off:
  • On teaching kids things at a very early age, and whether it helps them later on (basically "no"). Excerpt:
    They found that the children were very much a product of what they were exposed to by their parents: between 86 and 98 percent of the words in their vocabularies were also words their parents used. Across four years, the average child from a professional family would have heard nearly 45 million words spoken to them, the average child from a working class family, 26 million, and the average child from a family on welfare, 13 million. That means that compared with the affluent child, the poor child would be starting school with an astonishing deficit of 32 million words of language experience. How can that child's entire educational career not, on some level, become a demoralizing case of catchup? As long as parents are exposing their children to a nurturing, vibrant environment, reading to them regularly, and speaking with them intelligently, they should feel free to put the flash cards away.
  • This one is about race and happiness, but I thought a separate line was interesting:
    Are you happy? Well don't try to be happier; you might become less happy. That is the gist of a multi-cultural study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
    It's an interesting argument, depending on what that means...
  • Finally, Levitt is proud of his kid figuring out how to cheat. Nice.
I found it all interesting, anyway. What do you think on the happiness and education pieces?


  1. i can see the point about feeling the negatives more strongly when you're used to positives. however, i don't agree that we should therefore stop trying to be happier. Rav Zelig Pliskin in his book on happiness suggests focusing on the good things in your life so that when something negative does happen, it's outweighed by all the positive. instead of throwing in the towel on happiness because we're so fortunate, we should use all the good things in our lives as a balm for when things aren't so hot.

  2. Interesting thoughts. I'm not sure what the comment in the article means, really. In a way, I can see how trying too hard to be happy makes people more frustrated. I also see how people who focus on individual happinesses (apparently that's a word) can be more easily affected by individual things which aren't "happy". I dunno...!

  3. when one of the sons of a doctor friend was about three he fell and skinned his knee. when we asked him if he was ok he looked up at us, sniffled and said,"yes, but i have a 'brasion!"

    keep on with those SAT words!

  4. "Those most likely to succeed in tomorrow's knowledge economy, he argues, won't be the weary souls who have been drilled since birth to master memorization, but rather the creative people who can solve problems and think independently."

    I completely agree. my heart goes out to all those fifth graders suffering from burnout thanks to their anal retentive, overachieving parents. what is with priviledging intelligence? why is someone considered better if they have a higher IQ or are in possesion of more facts? sure, it helps them to move through the American education system, but if you take a look at all the American success stories, you'll see quite a few who made it on their creativity and street smarts rather than their ability to distinguish between different forms of art or the fact that they could recite their multiplication tables at four years old. in fact, i believe that the really important building blocks of a successful and happy human being are to be found in the playground, learning how to deal with others, how to take chances, how to fall, and how to pick yourself up again. these parents have got to chill.

  5. mdmom - Hehe. My brother's niece (2?) says "Flabbergasted!"

    But is that really important? I don't think so. For example, kids who learn multiple languages apparently are much quieter at first... but in the long run, they're much better off.

    It's a good question.

    Cftpg - I definitely agree with that part as well. I should repost my fave video (search "Sir Ken Robinson" in the top left search bar). It's perfect for this.

  6. I checked out the Robinson video like you suggested. It was beautiful. It was brilliant. It was perfect. I can't wait to read his book.

  7. Madd Hatter - It's still my favorite.

  8. i don't think in either example (well, at least in mine, i don't know how your neice is raised) it isn't a matter of intentionally teaching a young child impressive vocabulary words but rather a function of what the child picks up at home. young minds are like sponges, and if s/he grows up in an environment where heightened vocabulary use is the norm, that's how the child will speak. it's really not that surprising that the child of a doctor will say "abrasion" rather than "booboo." how much effort goes into what the kiddies absorb is up to the parents, obviously, but how much effort if it's not organic? that is a good question

    my children are completely bilingual by the way. my older two learned hebrew well after their spoken english was established, my youngest one learned how to speak here in israel, and on top of both the hebrew and english she had a french-speaking nanny as well. there were no spoken language delays with her.

  9. In that case, I think it's great. I thought you meant specifically teaching the kids those words.

    Our daughter seems to be just fine, even while learning two languages; my point was merely that people shouldn't rush kids to learn vocabulary; they will pick it up just fine on their own. I was simply noting as support that bilingual kids will often have a delay, which might worry some parents, but in the end they know two languages very well and can learn new ones easily.