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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
DAVID GRAEBER / The Revolt of the Caring Classes / 2018 - YouTube
"The financialisation of major economies since the '80s has radically changed the terms for social movements everywhere. How does one organise workplaces, for example, in societies where up to 40% of the workforce believe their jobs should not exist? David Graeber makes the case that, slowly but surely, a new form of class politics is emerging, based around recognising the centrality of meaningful 'caring labour' in creating social value. He identifies a slowly emerging rebellion of the caring classes which potentially represents just as much of a threat to financial capitalism as earlier forms of proletarian struggle did to industrial capitalism.

David Graeber is Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and previously Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale and Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015) Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004). His activism includes protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan, 'We are the 99 percent'.

This lecture was given at the Collège de France on the 22nd March 2018."
davidgraeber  care  caring  teaching  nursing  economics  capitalism  labor  work  employment  compensation  resentment  bullshitjobs  finance  politics  policy  us  uk  workingclass  intellectuals  intellectualism  society  manufacturing  management  jobs  liberalism  values  benefits  nobility  truth  beauty  charity  nonprofit  highered  highereducation  activism  humanrights  os  occupywallstreet  opportunity  revolution  revolt  hollywood  military  misery  productivity  creation  creativity  maintenance  gender  production  reproduction  socialsciences  proletariat  wagelabor  wage  salaries  religion  belief  discipline  maintstreamleft  hospitals  freedom  play  teachers  parenting  mothers  education  learning  unions  consumption  anarchism  spontaneity  universalbasicincome  nonprofits  ubi 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Ellen Ullman: Life in Code: "A Personal History of Technology" | Talks at Google - YouTube
"The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she was joining a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world. In 1997 Ullman wrote Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology’s loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn’t. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty."
ellenullman  bias  algorithms  2017  technology  sexism  racism  age  ageism  society  exclusion  perspective  families  parenting  mothers  programming  coding  humans  humanism  google  larrypage  discrimination  self-drivingcars  machinelearning  ai  artificialintelligence  literacy  reading  howweread  humanities  education  publicschools  schools  publicgood  libertarianism  siliconvalley  generations  future  pessimism  optimism  hardfun  kevinkelly  computing 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Grandma Got STEM | Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (+more!).
[via: https://twitter.com/junerubis/status/578840871992496128 ]

"Perhaps, like me, you are tired of hearing people say “how would you explain that to your grandmother?” when they probably mean something like “How would you explain the idea in a clear, compelling way so that people without a technical background can understand you?” In other words, “How would you explain that to a novice?”

You may also have heard the saying “That’s so easy, my grandmother could understand it.”

I would like to counter the implication that grannies (gender + maternity + age) might not easily pick up on technical/theoretical ideas. As a start, I’m planning public awareness / art projects using grandmothers’ pictures+names+connections to STEM. This blog is where I’ll collect the info.

Let me emphasize that I do not think that people who use the phrases above are doing so out of malice. For example, in response to Cory Doctorow’s provocative comment on boingboing, “I’ve never understood why geeks hold their grandmothers in such contempt,” one reader responded:

[image]

I’m glad that Grandma got STEM is helping people reconsider their language and attitudes toward senior women.

I’d also like to note that there are many ways to make contributions in the world — one is through the STEM fields. My goal is to celebrate women’s work in STEM, not to diminish the contributions of anyone else.

The project has sparked new conversations. Some readers have said, “I think my Mother/Grandmother did something with STEM, but I never really talked with her about it. I’ll get in touch with her and get back to you.” I’ve also heard from a number of enthusiastic grandmothers (STEM-mas) directly.

Many people have asked… My grandmother did “X” does that count? My answer so far has been… Certainly!!! I intend to be very inclusive with a broad definition of STEM. Senior women who are not grandmothers have also been included.

A buddy also said “Don’t forget the arts! STEAM!” But people rarely are skeptical of women’s critical involvement in fields related to arts and humanities. So for now, I’m gonna stick with STEM.

I hope you will consider responding to the call for submissions below. The project is ongoing – no deadline.

Thanks for your help.
Rachel Levy, Harvey Mudd College Mathematics

Call for submissions

Call for submissions – Grandma got STEM. Are you a senior woman working in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) – related field? Know any geeky grannies? Email name+pic+story/remembrance to Rachel Levy: ggstem (at) hmc (dot) edu. Follow on Twitter: @mathcirque #ggstem Project site: https://ggstem.wordpress.com "
stem  science  mathematics  engineering  women  age  ageism  gender  rachellevy  maternity  mothers  motherhood  corydoctorow  steam  math  technology 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Win of the Day: Woman Defeats Twitter Troll With Words, Kindness on MLK Day - The Daily What
"A writer named Ijeoma Oluo has shared an interesting Twitter conversation she had with a 14-year-old, racist troll on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the result is truly inspiring.

This woman is a hero to anyone who has dealt with anonymous haters online.

“You guys I’m a mom,” she wrote on Facebook. “You think I’m going to let some 14 year old outlast me? I got love for days.”

Warning: there are a lot of racial slurs and other awful stuff in here, but make sure to read all the way through to the end."
ijeomaoluo  love  martinlutherkingjr  patience  2015  trolls  race  racism  mothers  listening  kindness  mlk 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Lost Nigeria
"Lost Nigeria is a series of photo essays showing my mother's life in Africa."
senongoakpem  mothers  memory  nigeria  photography  photoessays  personalhitories  storytelling  africa 
july 2013 by robertogreco
BBC News - Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes
"For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates."
babies  culture  finland  parenting  2013  infantmortality  cardboard  health  healthcare  society  mothers  children  priorities 
june 2013 by robertogreco
He Enlisted
"When I look at my son, I see a 19-year-old young man. But I also see a million moments from all those 19 years, compressed into the Now. I see him as I saw him after he slid out of my body, covered in blood, cord still attached to me. I see him on his first day of school. I see him on the day he graduated from high school. I see him as a Tyrannasaurus-loving toddler, holding his arms close to his body to mimic the Rex’s short limbs, his hands clenched with just two fingers sticking out. Roaring. I see him in that moment when I had to tell him his dad had died. I hear his wailing cry in response. All this haunts me.

He is all those things at once: the newborn, the toddler, the teen, the man. It’s sometimes hard to reconcile.

It’ll be harder still with him in uniform."

[See also: http://www.hackeducation.com/2012/10/02/enlisted/ ]
children  mothers  love  parenting  2012  audreywatters 
october 2012 by robertogreco

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