Education

Education

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  • Do Your Kids Know How to Fight?

    My kids get stressed out from social conflict. Each has a distinctly different style of coping. Our son’s a retreater. “We’re not friends anymore,” my son says about one of his best friends, whenever his feelings get hurt. Even with me, when he’s upset, he runs from the house and down the block for awhile.Our daughter’s a threatener. When she’s mad or embarrassed, she threatens. She’s not looking for a solution; she’s hoping we’ll back down if she makes her threat big enough.One of the most important set of skills kids need as they mature is the ability to work out conflict without destroying relationships. When arguments happen, some kids simply want to win – they’ll attempt to dominate. Other kids are quick to cave, doing anything to make their friend happy just to save the relationship. Ideally, kids will learn eventually to neither dominate nor cave; they’ll learn to stand up for themselves and yet not put the relationship at risk. An amazing long-term study by Dr. Joe Allen...
  • Barbara Bush: Go See 'Precious'

    Recently George and I hosted a special sneak preview of Precious in our hometown, Houston. The audience of 200 included young people and old, teachers and corporate executives, parents and grandparents, and folks of just about every ethnic and economic background. I planned to say a few words when the movie was over—but I was speechless. (My husband would tell you that is highly unusual.) ...
  • Bloomberg Announces New Round of Aggressive School Reforms

    Education reformers are buzzing today about New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s ambitious new education goals for New York City schools that will not only up the ante for all states vying for a piece of the federal $4.35 billion Race to the Top school-reform fund, but is likely to spur sharp resistance from teachers' unions. While participating in a panel discussion about the future of education reform sponsored by the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress, Bloomberg announced that he and his school Chancellor Joel Klein are aiming to push through a platform of new reform proposals that include:Overhauling teacher evaluation systems to include student performance data.Boosting salaries for high-performing teachers in hard-to-staff specialties (math, science, special education) in low-income schools. Ignoring seniority (and prioritizing merit) when making layoff decisions.Making it easier to get low-performing teachers out of the classroom and off the payroll.Raising...
  • How Not to Helicopter

    I’ve never bought macrobiotic cupcakes or hypoallergenic socks. Nor have I hired a tutor for pencil-holding deficiency, or put covers on the stove knobs, or used a leash on a toddler to be safe in a busy airport. At the grocery store, my kids are often in other aisles, but they’ve never felt lost. When they were babies, we weren’t scared to leave them with babysitters. Their preschool didn’t teach Mandarin, nor even worry about teaching them to read. Nor have I ever questioned a teacher about one of my children’s grades. ...
  • Is Homeland Security Gun Shy About Confronting Far Right?

    The Obama administration didn't hesitate recently to pick a fight with Fox News, but its Department of Homeland Security now appears to have backpedaled on a report expressing concern about what its analysts earlier this year described as "right-wing extremists." Back in April, Homeland Security's intelligence analysis division produced a nine-page "assessment" describing how the nation's economic problems and the ascent of the first African-American president "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists" and might even lead to violence between such groups and the government. Although the paper was stamped "for official use only" and bits of it were labeled "law enforcement sensitive." the document quickly made its way onto the Internet. Its contents provoked howls of rage from conservative activists (some of which was reflected in reports from ... Fox News). The report's critics...
  • Senate Bill Restores Abstinence-Only Funding

    While the Senate toned down the House's language on abortion restrictions, it may have ratcheted things up with another controversial reproductive-health issue: abstinence-only education. Sec. 2954 of the Senate health-reform bill, released Wednesday evening, restores funding for abstinence education. As of this summer, abstinence-only education seemed en route to becoming a thing of the past. As I wrote for Newsweek this past month: ...
  • At What Age Do You No Longer Have to Check your Children’s Homework?

    Every Tuesday, my 3rd grader has a spelling test for twenty new vocabulary words. Driving him to school, I usually check in – “do you need any review for your test today?” There’s time on the drive to have him spell them out, if necessary. The relevant question is, can I trust his answer? In NurtureShock, we wrote: “Kids who are doing well in school know it; when they write down their answer, they know whether or not their answer is correct. They have a subtle sense, a recognition of whether they’ve gotten in right. Children who are struggling are genuinely unsure; they might get the right answer, but lack such awareness.”While that’s broadly true, let’s get into this in a little more detail. This field is considered the science of metacognition. It’s important because on a day to day basis, kids can be vastly more efficient in their studying if they focus on what they need to learn, and don’t waste time repeatedly practicing things they already know. The better they are at this...
  • What If Colleges Had Lower Standards for Boys to Achieve Gender Balance?

    Earlier this week, NPR’s Claudio Sanchez reported that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is taking a year to investigate college admissions, to find out if admissions departments are discriminating in favor of boys to achieve gender balance. This investigation will start with a subpoena for admissions records from a dozen (unnamed) public and private universities. They’re unlikely to find any overt discriminatory policies; the question is, will they be able to find a pattern that is itself evidence of discrimination against female applicants. It’s quite clear that in the current educational system, girls are outpacing boys when it comes to higher education. Boys are now only 46% of the total college enrollment, and it gets worse the higher the level of attainment – female students now earn 60% of the bachelor’s degrees. (Interestingly, this gender split is not there yet for Hispanics, where the boys in college still outnumber the girls. The imbalance is worst among Blacks, and it...
  • A Cure for ADHD?

    One out of four cases of ADHD eliminated. It almost sounds too good to be true. Nevertheless, a report in the preeminent journal Pediatrics suggests it's possible.What needs to happen for this to occur? Some new miracle drug or radical kind of psychotherapy?Nope. All it could take is treatment of children's snoring.ADHD is defined by a list of symptoms, so if a kid has those symptoms, then he likely has the disorder. But what causes those symptoms may vary from child to child. And sleep disorders could be one of those causes.University of Michigan professor Ronald M. Chervin is one of the world's leaders in investigating sleep's role in ADHD. According to Dr. Chervin, unlike adults who suffer from sleep problems, sleep-disordered children are hyperactive. The version of this we're all familiar with is the crabby toddler who skipped his nap. When it gets more serious, as in the case of the kids Chervin sees in his lab, they are "bouncing off the walls....
  • Why Tarantulas Can Seem So Scary

    It’s not every day that social scientists use tarantulas in their experiments. Professor Kent Harber brought unwitting Rutgers students into his lab. They were escorted into a semi-darkened room and asked to stand right in front of a table. Then the lights snapped on, revealing a huge hairy crawling tarantula a couple feet away.(There was no real danger: the spider was contained in a glass box, but it was big enough and close enough to have the desired effect.) Harber asked the students to estimate the exact distance, in feet and inches, between where they were standing and the tarantula.The thing was, on the way into the room, Harber asked a random half of the students to pause and recall a moment of personal success. Still others were to think about a time they'd failed at something. Harber didn't ask the students the specifics of what they were thinking about – he just asked them to place it in their mind before they walked into the dark room. The students who'd...
  • Online Lectures Are Not Just for Students Anymore

    YouTube has built a global reputation as the place to go for video clips of singing cats, laughing babies, reckless drivers, and raucous wedding processionals. But there's more to the site than pointless entertainment; there is a growing collection of university lectures available, including one by a Harvard Business School professor talking about consumer psychology in the recession, and Cambridge University historian David Starkey discussing the history of the British monarchy. Earlier this year YouTube launched a new home for education, YouTube EDU, which started as a volunteer project by company employees seeking a better way to aggregate educational content uploaded by U.S. colleges and universities. Last month the subsite went international, with 45 universities in Europe and Israel adding their content to the stream. "Around the world people can, from the comfort of their home, refresh their knowledge on a subject or explore other topics to better themselves intellectually,"...
  • The Future of Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

    It's been a mainstay of sex ed for more than a decade. Now, as the Obama administration cuts off federal funding, the movement scrambles for money, determined to continue its mission.  
  • Letters: Why College Should Take Only Three Years

    In the name of saving money, a shortened education for all students is heralded as not only possible but prudent. The human psyche be damned!William G. Durden, President, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.My college made it difficult to graduate early. The loss of an annual tuition fee was surely a factor. Families and politicians should request the option of an à la carte menu, instead of a one-size-fits-the-wealthy prix fixe.Jennifer Mason, Boston, Mass.As a high-school student, I hope to lower my future tuition costs not by accelerating my collegiate studies but by earning Advanced Placement credits now.Matt Epting, Ft. Worth, TexasI had to take unnecessary courses to fulfill my undergrad major requirements. I would much rather have graduated in three years and had the freedom and some financial reserves to get into the job market and gain real-world experience, or go on to pursue a focused graduate degree. Let's face it: in today's competitive climate, graduate degrees are...
  • Why Private Schools are Missing the Best Kids

    Hypothetically, let’s say you ran a fancy private elementary school. Like other private schools in the region, you’re competing to put out the brightest kids. And one of the ways you engineer this is through your admissions process – you try to select the kids who will get the most out of what your school has to offer. Kids who can handle the intellectual challenge, and who don’t disrupt the class. So, if you’re like other private schools, you bring the five-year-old applicants in for some intellectual assessment, and you also set up some games and playrooms for them so that you can watch them for an hour or two – to monitor their behavior. You’re looking for kids who get upset, withdraw, can’t wait for their turn, dominate other kids, can’t sit still, don’t pay attention to the instructions, et cetera. Then you admit the kids who looked best.This seems innocuous. It’s common practice.However, according to an ongoing study in Germany, what you might have done is just reject some of...
  • Duncan Offers Incentives for 'Revolutionary' Overhaul of Teacher Colleges

    As I predicted Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan's major speech at Columbia University this week called on America's teacher colleges to follow the lead of Louisiana, which has been setting the pace nationally in terms of overhauling its schools of education. The state has turned the devastation wrought by Katrina into an opportunity to force through the kind of education reforms that other states just can't seem to muster. One of its most controversial strategies has been to include data on how effectively new graduates are teaching and how much their students are learning when evaluating the quality of teacher colleges and other training programs. ...
  • In Defense of Children Behaving Badly

    It’s widely accepted in our society today that young kids’ behavior is a window into their future. When they can’t sit still in preschool, or they whack a friend, or they disobey─we recognize these as signs of portent. We all grasp that kids grow out of it, but it’s often hard to keep that in mind in the moment. Our vigilance has been piqued by the ADHD phenomenon, which is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense we want to spot hyperactivity early, in order to help kids who need it. It’s bad in the sense that we judge ordinary childhood misbehaving pretty harshly, through the lens of diagnoses. Amidst these trade-offs, there’s common ground─a baseline that educators and parents agree on: children with better behavior at the start of kindergarten are more ready to learn. Behavior and attention go hand in hand. Better behavior leads to improved attention, which in turn leads to soaking up more knowledge. This behavioral-advantage, it’s understood, continues for several years....