Somehow guest blogger Randi Weingarten managed to say everything I have wanted to say to the curt partisans at eduwonk. Naturally it’s long and wonky, but worth a read if you want to understand teachers’ concerns these days.


Young brains


All the skepticism about neuroscience telling us about mind applies, butthis article from the Economist is interesting. If I follow the conclusions correctly, it says that one network of brain functions handles new challenges and another evaluates longer-term plans. In the minds of children, however, these are one network, with the long-term functions wrapped inside the new-stuff functions. This makes sense.

Also: Children take images and ideas one at a time and not in context. Again, makes sense. This seems to me to be an area suited to research outside neurology, if only to duplicate findings.

NYT reports on the decline in unstructure
d play
in the lives of U.S. children. I might even say: A collapse. It seems earlier generations of kids were turned out of the house to play. But then there were clusters of children running about playing, inventing things to do in cul-de-sacs and bridges, parks and empty lots. There was a shadow world inside the adult world, a shadow world children could join. It seems very different now.

Anyway, a few quotes as NYT stories are apt to disappear:

… while commercial toys have almost completely colonized children’s free time, for most of history, play primarily meant roaming around the countryside or improvising with objects found or made at home.

His critique is increasingly echoed today by parents, educators and children’s advocates who warn that organized activities, overscheduling and excessive amounts of homework are crowding out free time and constricting children’s imaginations and social skills.

Disagree somewhat about video games as an extension of the problem, though. More later.