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robertogreco : naturenurture   11

You Can’t Ruin Your Kids | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"Why parenting matters less than we think"



"What Parents Can Do
Harris moves on to tackle specific issues concerning teenagers, gender differences, and dysfunctional families. She holds fast to her thesis, marshaling massive evidence for the influence of peer groups and genetics over parents and home environment.

It’s not that parents and home life don’t matter, she constantly reminds us — they obviously do matter in the short-run, because kids do react to their parents’ actions and expectations — but rather that life at home is just a temporary stop in the child’s journey, and the parents are temporary influencers. The direct effects of parenting that you believe you observe in your kids are either (1) simply your genes expressing themselves or (2) are temporary behavioral adjustments made by children, soon to be cast off when they enter the peer world “as easily as the dorky sweater their mother made them wear.”

So what can parents do, beyond carefully choosing a peer group (as discussed above)? Harris ends her book with an entire chapter dedicated to this question.

Some things that parents do — like teaching language to their young children — don’t hurt. That means that the child “does not have to learn it all over again in order to converse with her peers — assuming, of course, that her peers speak English.” Harris continues:

The same is true for other behaviors, skills, and knowledge. Children bring to the peer group much of what they learned at home, and if it agrees with what the other kids learned at home they are likely to retain it. Children also learn things at home that they do not bring to the peer group, and these may be retained even if they are different from what their peers learned. Some things just don’t come up in the context of the peer group. This is true nowadays of religion. Unless they attend a religious school, practicing a religion is something children don’t do with their peers: they do it with their parents. That is why parents still have some power to give their kids their religion. Parents have some power to impart any aspect of their culture that involves things done in the home; cooking is a good example. Anything learned at home and kept at home — not scrutinized by the peer group — may be passed on from parents to their kids.

Religion, cooking, political beliefs, musical talents, and career plans: Harris concedes that parents do influence their kids in these areas. But only because these are essentially interests and hobbies, not character traits. If you had a personal friend living with you for 18 years, their favorite meals, political beliefs, and career plans might rub off on you, too.

If your kid is getting bullied or falling in with the wrong crowd, you can move. You can switch schools. You can homeschool. These actions matter, because they affect the peer group.

You can help your kid from being typecast in negative ways by their peer group. You can help them look as normal and attractive as possible:

“Normal” means dressing the child in the same kind of clothing the other kids are wearing. “Attractive” means things like dermatologists for the kid with bad skin and orthodontists for the one whose teeth came in crooked. And, if you can afford it or your health insurance will cover it, plastic surgery for any serious sort of facial anomaly. Children don’t want to be different, and for good reason: oddness is not considered a virtue in the peer group. Even giving a kid a weird or silly name can put him at a disadvantage.

In Self-Directed Education circles where “being yourself” is holy mantra, such “conformist” concessions can be looked down upon. But Harris encourages us to remember what it is actually like to be a child: how powerfully we desire to fit in with our peers. Be kind to your children, Harris suggests, and don’t give them outlandish names, clothing, or grooming. Give them what they need to feel secure, even when that thing feels highly conformist.

Harris offers just a few small pieces of common-sense advice. There’s not much in the way of traditional “do this, not that” parenting guidance. But her final and most significant message is yet to come.

Saving the Parent-Child Relationship
My favorite quote from The Nurture Assumption introduces Harris’ approach to thinking about parent-child relationships:

People sometimes ask me, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my child?” They never ask, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my husband?” or “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my wife?” And yet the situation is similar. I don’t expect that the way I act toward my husband today is going to determine what kind of person he will be tomorrow. I do expect, however, that it will affect how happy he is to live with me and whether we will remain good friends.

While a spouse and a child are clearly not the same — a spouse has a similar level of lifetime experience to you, they are voluntarily chosen, and they (hopefully) don’t share your genes — Harris holds up marriage as a better relationship model than one we typically employ as parents.

You can learn things from the person you’re married to. Marriage can change your opinions and influence your choice of a career or a religion. But it doesn’t change your personality, except in temporary, context-dependent ways.

Yes, the parent-child relationship is important. But it’s not terribly different from a relationship with a spouse, sibling, or dear friend. In those relationships we don’t assume that we can (or should) control that person or how they “turn out.” Yet with children, we do.

Implicit in this analysis is a powerful message: Children are their own people, leading their own lives, worthy of basic respect. They are not dolls, chattel, or people through whom we might live our unfulfilled dreams. Just because parents are older, have more experience, and share genes with our children doesn’t give us long-term power or real control over them. That is the attitude that leads to the bullying, condescension, and micromanaging that scars too many parent-child relationships.

But while she calls for relinquishing a sense of control, Harris isn’t onboard with highly permissive parenting (what some call “unparenting”) either:
Parents are meant to be dominant over their children. They are meant to be in charge. But nowadays they are so hesitant about exerting their authority — a hesitancy imposed upon them by the advice-givers — that it is difficult for them to run the home in an effective manner. . . . The experiences of previous generations show that it is possible to rear well-adjusted children without making them feel that they are the center of the universe or that a time-out is the worst thing that could happen to them if they disobey. Parents know better than their children and should not feel diffident about telling them what to do. Parents, too, have a right to a happy and peaceful home life. In traditional societies, parents are not pals. They are not playmates. The idea that parents should have to entertain their children is bizarre to people in these societies. They would fall down laughing if you tried to tell them about “quality time.”


The message again is: Think of the parent-child relationship more like that of a healthy friendship or marriage. Hold them to a normal standards. Be frank and direct with them. Don’t worry about constantly entertaining them or monitoring their emotions. And whenever possible, Harris, says enjoy yourself! “Parents are meant to enjoy parenting. If you are not enjoying it, maybe you’re working too hard.”

In the end, Harris wants to free us from the guilt, anxiety, and fear that plagues so much of modern parenting, largely bred from the “advice-givers” who have convinced us that parenting is a science and you’re responsible for its outcomes:
You’ve followed their advice and where has it got you? They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t love all your children equally, though it’s not your fault if nature made some kids more lovable than others. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give them enough quality time, though your kids seem to prefer to spend their quality time with their friends. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give your kids two parents, one of each sex, though there is no unambiguous evidence that it matters in the long run. They’ve made you feel guilty if you hit your child, though big hominids have been hitting little ones for millions of years. Worst of all, they’ve made you feel guilty if anything goes wrong with your child. It’s easy to blame parents for everything: they’re sitting ducks. Fair game ever since Freud lit his first cigar.


Take care of the basics. Give your kid a home and keep them healthy. Connect them to positive peer groups. Teach them what you can. Build a home life that works for everyone. Try to enjoy the person who your child is. Do your best to build a bond between child and parent that will last for a lifetime. This is what Judith Rich Harris says we can do.

But when it comes to influencing your child’s behavior, personality, attitudes, and knowledge in the long run: stop. Recognize how little impact you have, give up the illusion of control, and relax. We can neither perfect nor ruin our children, Harris says: “They are not yours to perfect or ruin: they belong to tomorrow.”"
blakeboles  parenting  children  nature  nurture  environment  naturenurture  genetics  relationships  respect  peers  conformity  social  youth  adolescence  religion  belonging  authority  authoritarianism  marriage  society  schools  schooling  education  learning  internet  online  youtube  web  socialmedia  influence  bullying  condescension  micromanagement  judithrichharris  books  toread  canon  culture  class  youthculture 
june 2018 by robertogreco
The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany - NYTimes.com
"In its subject matter, “Orphan Black” broods on the nature-nurture debate in human biology, but in its execution, the show cleverly extends the same question to matters of genre. What does the exact same woman look like if you grow her in the petri dish of “Desperate Housewives” or on a horror-film set in Eastern Europe? What about a police procedural? The result is a revelation: Instead of each archetype existing as the lone female character in her respective universe, these normally isolated tropes find one another, band together and seek to liberate themselves from the evil system that created them.

By structuring the story around the clones’ differences, “Orphan Black” seems to suggest that the dull sameness enforced by existing female archetypes needs to die. Early in the first season, there is a serial killer hunting down the clones ­— it turns out to be Helena, the Ukrainian — who ritualistically dismembers Barbie dolls after dyeing their hair to match that of her next victim. It’s a creepy touch, but one that can also be read as a metacriticism of how women are used on TV: the punishing beauty standards to which they’re held, the imposed uniformity. (Need a new sitcom wife? Grab the prototype and change the hairstyle.) Our low tolerance for difference among female characters means that they will almost always be less interesting, less memorable and less beloved than their male counterparts. In this context, Helena becomes a kind of hero, slaughtering televisual conformity and constituting, in both her savagery and her warmth, a radical expansion of what women on television can be. And each character, including the criminally insane one, gets considerable attention and respect, even when it comes to questions about butter."



"She expressed some ambivalence about the way fame produces demand, especially in an age of social media. “People just want want want want stuff,” she said. There are awards shows, red carpets; she appreciates it all, but is careful not to let it control her. “You exist without this stuff,” she said. “This stuff doesn’t define you or anything.” Maslany has pointed out that her “Orphan Black” characters, too, must deal with the discovery that they are — in some sense — property and refuse to let it define them. “That always resonated for me as a woman,” she told Vanity Fair in an interview, “this idea of our bodies not being our own. That they’re owned by someone else. That the image of them is owned by someone else.”"



"On “Orphan Black,” the clones fight constantly for control of their own lives and bodies, and Maslany obliquely linked their struggle to her own experience with the publicity machine. “This is about volition and autonomy,” she said of the show, “and that was resonating with me, being an actor who was suddenly being interviewed or being dressed.”

It was an offhand remark, but the connection she drew between self-­ownership and the alienating experience of press interviews — especially given our circumstances — was as subtle as it was smart. I thought about it that night, back at my hotel. Interviewing is a strange business, and I was impressed by the tact and frankness with which Maslany had articulated her discomfort. “Glancing blow, warmly delivered,” I scribbled in my notebook.

Weeks later, Maslany walked the red carpet at the SAG Awards, dressed and styled to the teeth. She smiled brightly. Her fans cheered her gleefully on Twitter. But when Maria Menounos invited her to use the “mani-­cam” to display her nails and jewelry (an invitation some actors walking the red carpet refused, finding it sexist), she bashfully confessed that she hadn’t gotten her nails done and then pulled off what I’ve come to think of as the ultimate Maslany maneuver: She stuck her unmanicured hand in and gave the camera a thumbs-­up, concealing her nails. A glancing blow, warmly delivered."



"“But it’s not about insanity!” Maslany exclaimed. “Her emotional life is so enormous that it can’t be contained, and I think there’s something really beautiful about that. It’s weird to call it insanity, or weird to dismiss her as a victim. I don’t see her as a victim in the slightest. She’s just off. She’s off. She’s just odd.”

I confessed that I agreed with her. Watching “A Woman Under the Influence,” I too fell for Rowlands and her fragile, nutty, compellingly huge character.

Maslany described her favorite scene in the film to me. She prefaced this by saying, “It’s not the most feminist scene on the planet.” In it, Mabel has returned from being institutionalized and manages to perform a broken kind of normalcy with some success. But her husband can’t take it; he’s devastated by what she has become — what he has done to her. He tries to slap her back to herself. “It’s just the two of them silhouetted, and he’s slapping her and going, Bah-bah! Bah-bah!” Maslany said. “And he’s telling her to do the thing that she does, which is just be herself. He can’t handle the fact that she’s been sent away to be changed and to be made homogeneous and made easy to palate.”

There are traces of Mabel in Maslany’s Helena, whom Maslany allows to become off-­putting and even genuinely frightening in ways that female characters rarely get to be. Mabel is not the safe, charming bumbler of the romantic comedy. Nor is Helena, who is erratic, hilarious and homicidal — but never predictable. As Maslany put it, “she’ll probably poop on your face or something.” Maslany cherishes roles that leave room for that kind of unlikability and risk. “The greatest gift as an actor,” she said, “is you get to go, Well, I’m doing this as a character, but really, this is me, this is me at my worst, my worst bits of me.”"



"One of the most interesting things about the show, and its metacriticism of the genres it juggles, isn’t just how elegantly it addresses the solitude that the lone female character on many shows suffers in her particular TV universe. It’s also how resolutely the show refuses to place these genres in opposition to one another. There’s no condescension here; Alison’s suburbia gets as much visual and narrative respect as Rachel’s evil corporate empire. The characters find one another because the system that produced them and scattered them is breaking down. What emerges is a full, generative map of the possibilities that emerge when you let the Strong Female Character and her lonely sisters from other genres mix. By exploring the different directions that “genetic identicals” can take when differently nurtured, “Orphan Black” shows what a single actor can do when given the opportunity — and, by extension, reveals the interesting stories that emerge when women are afforded the chance to exist in rich narrative relation to one another.

Despite Maslany’s reluctance, I managed to steer our conversation back to her magical quick-change act. I still wanted to know how she does it. “I think there’s something about being prepared enough that you can surrender,” she said. Then she quoted to me something the dancer Martha Graham told the choreographer Agnes de Mille in 1943.

At the time, de Mille was confused and bewildered by her sudden rise to fame, and Graham offered her words of encouragement. It is a beautiful pep talk, practically written in verse. I can see why it has special meaning for Maslany as she navigates the challenges of the fishbowl herself. The part Maslany recounted to me is this: “It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

De Mille asked Graham when she would feel satisfied, and Graham replied: “There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” I asked Maslany what her divine dissatisfaction was. “I don’t know how I would label it right now,” she said. “I think if I looked back on this time, I’d probably see where it lived.”"
2015  tatianamaslany  orphanblack  acting  television  lililoofbourow  tv  naturenurture  gender  marthagraham  agnesdemille  feminism  volition  interviews  self-ownership  identity  genre 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Brain on Trial - Magazine - The Atlantic
"Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order."

"Neuroscience is beginning to touch on questions that were once only in the domain of philosophers and psychologists, questions about how people make decisions and the degree to which those decisions are truly “free.” These are not idle questions. Ultimately, they will shape the future of legal theory and create a more biologically informed jurisprudence. "
science  psychology  philosophy  behavior  biology  crime  punishment  nature  nurture  naturenurture  davideagleman  2011  mentalillness  mentalhealth  brain  impulsivity  impulse-control  adolescence  incarceration  adolescents  law  legal  future  forwardthinking  thinking  somnambulism  social  socialpolicy  rehabilitation  neuroscience  criminality  recidivism  predictions  data  brainchemistry  pathology  pathologies  tourettes  alzheimers  schizophrenia  mania  depression  murder  blame  blameworthiness  capitalpunishment  logic  freewill  will  jurisprudence 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Parenting Is Overrated: Why the Secret to Happier Parents Is Doing Less - Nicole Russell - Business - The Atlantic
"The secret joy of being a parent, Caplan argues, comes from understanding the limited liability of parenting. Studies have found that child-rearing is, if you can believe it, a little overrated. In surveys of twins raised together and apart, behavioral scientists consistently found that nature overpowered nurture in almost all categories, from character and intelligence to happiness and health. Once you accept that bad parenting won't always keep your kids from being great (and good parenting might not make a difference!), it's easier to relax and enjoy the state of being a parent."
parenting  economics  children  naturenurture  unschooling  deschooling  happiness  well-being  health  fear  anxiety 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Deb Roy: The birth of a word | Video on TED.com
"MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language -- so he wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son's life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch "gaaaa" slowly turn into "water." Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn."
debroy  language  science  ted  languageacquisition  learning  infants  children  childhood  environment  visualization  video  mit  neuroscience  social  spacetimeworms  naturenurture  speech  words  memorymachines  memory  lifelogging  tracking  audio  recording  classideas  patternrecognition  patterns  vocabulary  media  television  tv  socialmedia  eventstucture  conversation  semanticanalysis  wordscapes  communication  communicationdynamics  engagement  data  socialgraph  contentgraph  coviewing  behavior  socialstructures 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Human Kind: Sissela Bok reviews "The Price of Altruism" by Oren Harman | The American Scholar
"For Darwin, the question of human morality never had to do with pure selflessness. In The Descent of Man he expressed his considered conviction that cultural factors such as “the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c.” play a much more important role than natural selection in advancing what he called the moral qualities of human beings, “though to this latter agency the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely attributed.”

Harman, in his closing pages, underscores the role that culture and education still play in human altruistic behaviors, despite claims by biological determinists that genes run the show. His book is an important contribution to the collaborative work on altruism as it relates to self-interest now increasingly under way, not only in the natural sciences but also in philosophy, political science, economics, and anthropology."
humans  humanism  altruism  selflessness  education  teaching  learning  culture  economics  philosophy  politics  anthropology  collaboration  empathy  biology  evolution  darwin  behavior  society  genetics  naturenurture  nature  biologicaldeterminism  determinism  orenharman  sisselabok  morality  humannature  charlesdarwin 
september 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Lord of the Flies: How Adults Create Bullying
"When Lord of the Flies is taught this way, it encourages the adults in school to continue to behave as they do, and blames children, and their inherently evil nature, for all that is wrong in society. This, of course, is the tack taken by administrators such as Anthony Orsini who claims to run the Lord of the Flies Middle School in Ridgewood, NJ. And it lies at the heart of how bullying is usually combatted in our schools.



In other words, what if these children were viewed as products of their society? What if what is being revealed is not the "nature of children," but the most trained behaviours. What if Ralph can be seen, as the story begins, as "natural childhood" - trusting, cooperative, believing in fairness, and what emerges later on is the British aristocracy - brutal, bullying, uniform in appearance, colonialist, and lacking empathy or even pity?

What might that suggest about school-based anti-bullying efforts?

...

So as you read Lord of the Flies with your students this coming year, ask them to ask different questions. And when you see bullies in your school, ask where they have learned that behaviour.

Children do learn, after all. And mostly, they learn by watching us."
empathy  lordoftheflies  williamgolding  teaching  education  behavior  modeling  society  irasocol  bullying  bullies  tcsnmy  brutality  colonialism  literature  classideas  naturenurture  nature  humans  children  boys 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Nursery school personality and political orientation two decades later - Jack and Jeanne H. Block [.pdf]
"Preschool children who 20 years later were relatively liberal were characterized as: developing close relationships, self-reliant, energetic, somewhat dominating, relatively under-controlled, and resilient. Preschool children subsequently relatively conservative at age 23 were described as: feeling easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and relatively over-controlled and vulnerable. IQ during nursery school did not relate to subsequent liberalism/conservatism but did relate in subsequent decades. Personality correlates of liberalism/conservatism for the subjects as young adults were also reported: conservatives were described in terms congruent with previous formulations in the literature; liberals displayed personality commonalities but also manifested gender differences"
politics  preschool  psychology  self-reliance  energy  relationships  liberalism  conservatism  experience  naturenurture  victimhood  personality  vulnerability  inhibition  tcsnmy  filetype:pdf  media:document 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Do you learn cooperation from your parents?
"The absence of correlation between parents' and children's behavior, however, is consistent with part of the psychological literature, which emphasizes the importance of peer effects in the socialization process."
parenting  nature  nurture  naturenurture  cooperation  social  values  children 
may 2007 by robertogreco
Essays: 'Why home doesn't matter' by Judith Rich Harris | Prospect Magazine May 2007 issue 134
"parents influence their children mainly by passing on their genes. The biggest environmental influences on personality are those that occur outside the home"
parenting  psychology  toread  naturenurture  nature  nurture  environment  learning  behavior  schools  children  personality  genetics 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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