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Maya Children In Guatemala Are Great At Paying Attention. What's Their Secret? : Goats and Soda : NPR
"So maybe the Maya children are more attentive in the origami/toy experiment — not because they have better attention spans — but because they are more motivated to pay attention. Their parents have somehow motivated them to pay attention even without being told.

To see this Maya parenting firsthand, I traveled down to a tiny Maya village in Yucatan, Mexico, and visited the home of Maria Tun Burgos. Researchers have been studying her family and this village for years.

On a warm April afternoon, Tun Burgos is feeding her chickens in backyard. Her three daughters are outside with her, but they doing basically whatever they want.

The oldest daughter, Angela, age 12, is chasing a baby chick that's gotten out of the pen. The middle girl, Gelmy, age 9, is running in and out of the yard with neighborhood kids. Most of the time, no one is really sure where she is. And the littlest daughter, Alexa, who is 4 years old, has just climbed up a tree.

"Alone, without mama," the little daredevil declares.

Right away, I realize what these kids have that many American kids miss out on: an enormous amount of freedom. The freedom to largely choose what they do, where they go, whom they do it with. That means, they also have the freedom to control what they pay attention to.

Even the little 4-year-old has the freedom to leave the house by herself, her mother says.

"Of course she can go shopping," Tun Burgos says. "She can buy some eggs or tomatoes for us. She knows the way and how to stay out of traffic."

Now the kids aren't just playing around in the yard. They're still getting work done. They go to school. They do several after-school activities — and many, many chores. When I was with the family, the oldest girl did the dishes even though no one asked her to, and she helped take care of her little sisters.

But the kids, to a great extent, set their schedules and agendas, says Suzanne Gaskins, a psychologist at Northeastern Illinois University, who has studied the kids in this village for decades.

"Rather than having the mom set the goal — and then having to offer enticements and rewards to reach that goal — the child is setting the goal," Gaskins says. "Then the parents support that goal however they can."

The parents intentionally give their children this autonomy and freedom because they believe it's the best way to motivate kids, Gaskins says.

"The parents feel very strongly that every child knows best what they want," she says. "And that goals can be achieved only when a child wants it."

And so they will do chores when they want to be helpful for their family.

With this strategy, Maya children also learn how to manage their own attention, instead of always depending on adults to tell them what to pay attention to, says Barbara Rogoff, who is a professor at the University of California Santa Cruz.

"It may be the case that [some American] children give up control of their attention when it's always managed by an adult," she says.

Turns out these Maya moms are onto something. In fact, they are master motivators.

Motivating kids, the Maya way
Although neuroscientists are just beginning to understand what's happening in the brain while we pay attention, psychologists already have a pretty good understanding of what's needed to motivate kids.

Psychologist Edward Deci has been studying it for nearly 50 years at the University of Rochester. And what does he say is one of the most important ingredients for motivating kids?

"Autonomy," Deci says. "To do something with this full sense of willingness and choice."

Many studies have shown that when teachers foster autonomy, it stimulates kids' motivation to learn, tackle challenges and pay attention, Deci says.

But in the last few decades, some parts of our culture have turned in the other direction, he says. They've started taking autonomy away from kids — especially in some schools.

"One of the things we've been doing in the American school system is making it more and more controlling rather than supportive," Deci says.

And this lack of autonomy in school inhibits kids' ability to pay attention, he says.

"Oh without question it does," Deci says. "So all of the high stakes tests are having negative consequences on the motivation, the attention and the learning of our children."

Now, many parents in the U.S. can't go full-on Maya to motivate kids. It's often not practical — or safe — to give kids that much autonomy in many places, for instance. But there are things parents here can do, says cognitive psychologist Mike Esterman.

For starters, he says, ask your kid this question: 'What would you do if you didn't have to do anything else?' "

"Then you start to see what actually motivates them and what they want to engage their cognitive resources in when no one tells them what they have to to do," Esterman says.

Then create space in their schedule for this activity, he says.

"For my daughter, I've been thinking that this activity will be like her 'passion,' and it's the activity I should be fostering," he says.

Because when a kid has a passion, Esterman says, it's golden for the child. It's something that will bring them joy ... and hone their ability to pay attention."
children  attention  education  parenting  psychology  passion  2018  maya  barbararogoff  maricelacorrea-chavez  behavior  autonomy  motivation  intrinsicmotivation 
july 2018 by robertogreco
The Best Mother's Day Gift: Get Mom Out Of The Box : Goats and Soda : NPR
"Secrets Of A Maya Supermom: What Parenting Books Don't Tell You"

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/996812739073880064 ]

"As psychologist Ben Bradley argues in his book Vision of Infancy, a Critical Introduction to Psychology: "Scientific observations about babies are more like mirrors which reflect back the preoccupations and visions of those who study them than like windows opening directly on the foundations of the mind."

And sometimes the data supporting the recommendation are so flimsy that another study in a few years will come along and not only overturn the first study but completely flip the advice 180 degrees.

This is exactly what happened last year with peanuts. Back in 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents not to give babies peanut butter because one study suggested early exposure would increase the risk of developing an allergy. But last year, the medical community made a complete about-face on the advice and now says "Let them eat peanut butter!" Early peanut exposure actually prevents allergies, follow-up studies have found.

So if science isn't the secret sauce to parenting books, what is? To answer that, we have to go back in time.

In the early 1980s, the British writer Christina Hardyment began reviewing more than 650 parenting books and manuals, dating all the way to the mid-1700s when advice publications started appearing in hospitals. The result is an illuminating book, called Dream Babies, which traces the history of parenting advice from 17th century English physician and philosopher John Locke to the modern-day medical couple Bill and Martha Sears.

The conclusions from the book are as clear as your baby's tears: Advice in parenting books is typically based not on rigorous scientific studies as is at times claimed but on the opinions and experiences of the authors and on theories from past parenting manuals — sometimes as long as the 18th century.

Then there's the matter of consistency — or lack thereof. Since the late 1700s, "experts" have flip-flopped recommendations over and over, from advising strict routines and discipline to a more permissive, laissez-faire approach and back again.

"While babies and parents remain constants, advice on the former to the latter veers with the winds of social, philosophical and psychological change," Hardyment writes. "There is no such thing as a generally applicable blueprint for perfect parenting."

Take, for instance, the idea that babies need to feed on a particular schedule. According to Hardyment's research, that advice first appears in a London hospital pamphlet in 1748. Sleep schedules for babies start coming into fashion in the early 1900s. And sleep training? That idea was proposed by a British surgeon-turned-sports writer in 1873. If babies "are left to go to sleep in their cots, and allowed to find out that they do not get their way by crying, they at once become reconciled, and after a short time will go to bed even more readily in the cot than on the lap," John Henry Walsh wrote in his Manual of Domestic Economy.

Even the heated debate about breastfeeding has been simmering, and flaring up, for at least 250 years, Hardyment shows. In the 18th century, mothers didn't have high-tech formula but had many recommendations about what was best for the baby and the family. Should a mother send the baby off to a wet nurse's home, so her husband won't be offended by the sight of a baby suckling? And if the family couldn't afford a wet nurse, there was specially treated cow's milk available or even better, the baby could be nursed by a goat, 18th century parenting books advised. (If you're wondering how moms accomplished such a feat, Hardyment includes an 18th century drawing of a young mom pushing a swaddled newborn underneath a goat's udder.)

Goat udders aside, perhaps the bigger issue with parenting books and advice on the Web is what they aren't telling you. And boy, is there a large hole.

These sources ignore most of the world and come almost entirely from the experience of Western culture. But when it comes to understanding what a baby needs, how kids work and what to do when your toddler is lying on the sidewalk (just asking for a friend), Western society might not be the best place to focus.

"WEIRD," stressed-out parents equal anxious kids?

In 2010, three scientists at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, rocked the psychology world.

They published a 23-page paper titled "The weirdest people in the world?" And in it, uncovered a major limitation with many psychological studies, especially those claiming to address questions of "human nature."

First, the team noted that the vast majority of studies in psychology, cognitive science and economics — about 96 percent — have been performed on people with European backgrounds. And yet, when scientists perform some of these experiments in other cultures the results often don't match up. Westerners stick out as outliers on the spectrum of behavior, while people from indigenous cultures tend to clump together, more in the middle.

Even in experiments that appear to test basic brain function, like visual perception, Westerners can act strangely. Take one of the most famous optical illusions — the Muller-Lyer illusion, from 1889.

Americans often believe the second line is about 20 percent longer than the first, even though the two lines are exactly the same length. But when scientists gave the test to 14 indigenous cultures, none of them were tricked to the same degree as Westerners. Some cultures, such as the San foragers in southern Africa's Kalahari desert, knew the two lines were equal length.

The conclusion from these analyses was startling: People from Western society, "including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans," Joseph Heinrich and his colleagues wrote. The researchers even came up with a catchy acronym to describe the phenomenon. They called our culture WEIRD, for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic societies.

With that paper, the ethnocentric view of psychology cracked. It wasn't so much that the emperor of psychology had no clothes. It was more that he was dancing around in Western garb pretending to represent all humanity.

A few years later, an anthropologist from Utah State University, David Lancy, performed a similar analysis on parenting. The conclusion was just as clear-cut: When you look around the world and throughout human history, the Western style of parenting is WEIRD. We are outliers.

In many instances, what we think is "necessary" or "critical" for childhood is actually not present in any other cultures around the world or throughout time.

"The list of differences is really, really long," says Lancy, who summarizes them in the second edition of his landmark book, The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings. "There may be 40 to 50 things that we do that you don't see in indigenous cultures."

Perhaps most striking is how Western society segregates children from adults. We have created two worlds: the kid world and the adult world. And we go through great pains to keep them apart. Kids have their own special foods, their own times to go to sleep, their own activities on the weekends. Kids go to school. Parents go to work. "Much of the adult culture ... is restricted [for kids]," Lancy writes. "Children are perceived as too young, uneducated, or burdensome to be readily admitted to the adult sphere."

But in many indigenous cultures, children are immersed in the adult world early on, and they acquire great skills from the experience. They learn to socialize, to do household chores, cook food and master a family's business, Lancy writes.

Western culture is also a relative newcomer to parenting. Hunter-gatherers and other indigenous cultures have had tens of thousands of years to hone their strategies, not to mention that the parent-child relationship actually evolved in these contexts.

Of course, just because a practice is ancient, "natural" or universal doesn't mean it's necessarily better, especially given that Western kids eventually have to live — and hopefully succeed — in a WEIRD society. But widening the parenting lens, even just a smidgen, has a practical purpose: It gives parents options.

"When you look at the whole world and see the diversity out there, parents can start to imagine other ways of doing things," says Suzanne Gaskins, a developmental psychologist at Northeastern Illinois University, who for 40 years has been studying how Maya moms in the Yucatan raise helpful kids.

"Some of the approaches families use in other cultures might fit an American child's needs better than the advice they are given in books or from the pediatricians," she adds."

Who's in charge?

So what kind of different philosophies are out there?

When I spent time with Maya families that Gaskins has studied, I saw a very different approach to control.

In Western culture, parenting is often about control.

"We think of obedience from a control angle. Somebody is in charge and the other one is doing what they are told because they have to," says Barbara Rogoff, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has studied the Maya culture for 30 years."

And if you pay attention to the way parents interact with children in our society, the idea is blazingly obvious. We tend to boss them around. "Put your shoes on!" or "Eat your sandwich!"

"People think either the adult is in control or the child is in control," Rogoff says.

But what if there is another way to interact with kids that removes control from the equation, almost altogether?

That's exactly what the Maya — and several other indigenous cultures — do. Instead of trying to control children, Rogoff says, parents aim to collaborate with them.

"It's kids and adults together accomplishing a common goal," Rogoff says. "It's not letting the kids do whatever they want. It's a matter of children — and parents — being willing to be … [more]
children  parenting  weird  anthropology  2018  control  maya  mothers  stress  guidance  motherhood  us  michaeleendoucleff  families  knowledge  indigenous  stephaniecoontz  culture  society  respect  johngillis  alloparents  interdependence  communities  community  collaboration  psychology  barbararogoff 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Syllabus | Technologies for Creative Learning
"This course explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences – and transform the ways we think about learning. Students will experiment with new learning technologies, discuss educational ideas underlying the technologies, analyze design strategies for creating new technologies, and examine how and what people learn as they use these technologies."

[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20120808072239/http://mas714.media.mit.edu/syllabus ]
syllabus  learning  creativity  mit  constructivism  coding  children  technology  computing  computers  scratch  mindstorms  ivanillich  davidresnick  seymourpapert  mimiito  henryjenkins  barbararogoff  alfiekohn  caroldweck  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  sherryturkle  jamespaulgee  via:dianakimball  readinglists  education  teaching  programming  syllabi 
february 2013 by robertogreco

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