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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
Children learning by themselves and progressive inquiry | FLOSSE Posse
"…children learn even better if they have a “granny figure” supporting them…

…good teachers is a bit like a granny: supports students, is interesting in their work and praise them. I think, however, even better teachers than a random granny is an expert of a domain acting the granny way. An excellent expert-teachers (can be a granny, too) is able to guide pupils in their inquiry by challenging their thinking and by providing new perspectives to the students inquiry. The point is to guide, not to instruct.

The progressive inquiry learning, a pedagogical model that has been widely studied, experimented and partly took in use in Finland, is close to Mitra’s way of teaching (I call it teaching, although there is very little teaching in a traditional sense). In my talk in Ankra I explained how progressive inquiry learning works and how pupils and students in all levels of education—from kindergartens to universities—can be guided to do research."

[Examples follow]

[via: http://www.downes.ca/post/55666/ ]
teemuleinonen  progressiveinquiry  tcsnmy  learning  education  pedagogy  teaching  student-centered  studentdirected  learner-centered  learner-ledcommunities  sugatamitra  grandmothers  guideontheside  2011  via:steelemaley  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  mentoring  modeling  instruction  guidance  lcproject  cv  howwelearn  howwework  informallearning  autodidacts  outdoctrination  research  toshare  unconferences  openstudio  openworkshops  prototyping 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Film History 101 (via Netflix Watch Instantly) « Snarkmarket
"Robin is absolutely right: I like lists, I remember everything I’ve ever seen or read, and I’ve been making course syllabi for over a decade, so I’m often finding myself saying “If you really want to understand [topic], these are the [number of objects] you need to check out.” Half the fun is the constraint of it, especially since we all now know (or should know) that constraints = creativity."

[See also Matt Penniman's "Sci-fi Film History 101" list: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/6492 ]
film  netflix  history  cinema  movies  timcarmody  snarkmarket  teaching  curation  curating  constraints  lists  creativity  forbeginners  thecanon  pairing  sharing  expertise  experience  education  learning  online  2010  frankchimero  surveycourses  surveys  web  internet  perspective  organization  succinct  focus  design  the101  robinsloan  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  reference  pacing  goldcoins  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The 101 « Snarkmarket
"Some of the teachers I remember most from college are the ones who would say something like: “Listen. There are only two movies you need to understand to understand [whole giant big cinematic movement X]. Those two movies are [A] and [B]. And we’re gonna watch ‘em.” (I feel like this is something Tim is extremely good at, actually.) It’s a step above curation, right? Context matters here; so does sequence. So we’re talking about some sort of super-sharp, web-powered, media-rich syllabus. I always liked syllabi, actually. They seem to make such an alluring promise, you know? Something like:

Go through this with me, and you will be a novice no more."
curation  curating  robinsloan  frankchimero  lists  organization  experience  expertise  teaching  learning  online  web  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  forbeginners  reference  2010  pacing  goldcoins  surveys  surveycourses  the101  education  internet  perspective  succinct  focus  design  history  constraints  creativity  thecanon  pairing  sharing  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - The Two Best Things on the Web 2010
"My top two choices, however, stood tall as perhaps the best stock I’ve had the pleasure of reading on the web, both in terms of their scope, but more interestingly about how they treated their content and audience. There’s a pattern here that I enjoy. I’d like to introduce you to them, and hopefully in the process make a bit of a point about the direction I want the web to take in the next year."

"I suppose I’m hungry for curated educational materials online. These are more than lists of books to read: they’re organized, edited, and have a clear point of view about the content they are presenting, and subvert the typical scatter-shot approach of half the web (like Wikipedia), or the hyper-linear, storyless other half that obsesses over lists. And that’s the frustrating thing about trying to teach yourself things online: you’re new, so you don’t know what’s important, but everything is spread so thin and all over the place, so it’s difficult to make meaningful connections."
education  learning  online  lists  2010  frankchimero  surveycourses  surveys  teaching  forbeginners  web  internet  curating  curation  perspective  organization  succinct  focus  design  history  constraints  creativity  thecanon  pairing  sharing  expertise  experience  the101  robinsloan  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  reference  pacing  goldcoins  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The School of Life : Mark Vernon on Changing Your Mind
"In a plural world, such as ours – a place in which today you will bump into people who think exactly the opposite to you, on everything from the taste of Marmite to the veracity of God – it is easy to value constancy....Be like a rock, or the northern star: unchanging.

And yet, isn’t changing your mind actually more virtuous? Is it not more honest and harder, though wiser, to be prepared to change as you assess and weigh the rich variety of opinion and experience that surrounds you, on the tube or the bus? There was an ancient philosopher who made change his leitmotif. Bion of Borysthenes seemed destined for a life of obscurity, not least when he was sold into slavery. But gradually, he educated himself. He made his way to Athens and, one by one, sat at the feet of the different thinkers of his day – the Platonists, the Stoics, the Cynics. He wanted to understand how they each think, in that deep sense of, ‘I see what you mean.’ Only then might he make up his own mind."
change  mindset  psychology  life  guidance  wistom  mindchanges  bionofborysthenes  schooloflife  diatribes  flip-flopping  virtue  uncertainty  learning  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  politics  mindchanging 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Technium: Predicting the Present, First Five Years of Wired
"I was digging through some files the other day and found this document from 1997. It gathers a set of quotes from issues of Wired magazine in its first five years. I don't recall why I created this (or even if I did compile all of them), but I suspect it was for our fifth anniversary issue. I don't think we ever ran any of it. Reading it now it is clear that all predictions of the future are really just predictions of the present. Here it is in full:"
kevinkelly  technium  future  futurism  guidance  history  quotes  trends  value  90s  web  wired  death  dannyhillis  paulsaffo  nicholasnegroponte  peterdrucker  jaychiat  alankay  vernorvinge  nathanmyhrvold  sherryturkle  stevejobs  nealstephenson  marcandreessen  newtgingrich  brianeno  scottsassa  billgates  garywolf  johnnaisbitt  mikeperry  marktilden  hughgallagher  billatkinson  michaelschrage  jimmetzner  brendalaurel  jaronlanier  douglashofstaster  frandallfarmer  rayjones  jonkatz  davidcronenberg  johnhagel  joemaceda  tompeters  meaning  ritual  technology  rituals 
may 2010 by robertogreco
metacool: Do both, and focus on everything
"Recently at IDEO we've been talking about the difference between having a vision and having a purpose. A vision is something you shoot for, a point in the future, while a purpose is a point of origin, something that guides you. We're of a belief that visions are tough to go after when you desire innovative outcomes because they tend to reduce emergent behavior and serendipity. A single, defined point in the future may be better suited to a top-down, variance-eliminating organization trying to reach a single goal, rather than for one trying to exist in certain way, believing that a guiding purpose will ensure that the outcomes that do arise will be not only appropriate, but likely extraordinary."
tcsnmy  purpose  ideo  vision  goals  principles  values  decisionmaking  guidance  2010  diegorodriguez 
may 2010 by robertogreco

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