Archive for October, 2016

Why are our children so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends?

October 29, 2016 Comments off

Good analysis of how we are, in the words of Neil Postman, distracting our children to death… and I’d add one more important recommendation: take your children outside and introduce them to nature. 

I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my ten years as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.   Today’s children come to school emotionally unavailable for learning, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why: 1. Technology Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner.  We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring. When kids come to the classroom, they are exposed to human voices and adequate visual stimulation as opposed to being bombarded with the graphic explosions and special effects that they are used to seeing on the screens. After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide. The inability to process lower levels of stimulation leaves kids vulnerable to academic challenges. Technology also disconnects us emotionally from our children and our families. Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain. Unfortunately, we are gradually depriving our children of that nutrient. 2. Kids get everything they want the moment they want “I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!”   The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions — to make our children happy — but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term.  To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life. The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores the moment the child hears “No” because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away. 3. Kids rule the world “My son doesn’t like vegetables.” “She doesn’t like going to bed early.” “He doesn’t like to eat breakfast.” “She doesn’t like toys, but she is very good at her iPad” “He doesn’t want to get dressed on his own.” “She is too lazy to eat on her own.” This is what I hear from parents all the time. Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed. What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive.  In addition, we send them the wrong message.  They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. The concept of “need to do” is absent. Unfortunately, in order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do.  For example, if a child wants to be an A student, he needs to study hard. If he wants to be a successful soccer player, he needs to practice every day. Our children know very well what they want, but have a very hard time doing what is necessary to achieve that goal. This results in unattainable goals and leaves the kids disappointed. 4. Endless Fun We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.  When they come to schoo

Source: Why are our children so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends?

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Pension Funds and Charters Linked in MA Investigate Report

October 29, 2016 Comments off

David Sirota’s International Business Times article on MA Governor Baker’s the shady scheme to get contributions for his pet initiative to expand charter schools is gut wrenching example of profiteers think. Instead of accepting the regulations put in place to ensure that democracy can operate without the influence of money funneled into political campaigns, they collude with elected officials to find workarounds or, in the case of Mr. Baker, get themselves elected so they can develop the workarounds themselves. As Mr. Sirota notes in his article, Mr. Baker, a former CEO of a financial firm, was charged with violating federal pay-to-play laws in NJ prior to his election as Governor in NJ:

During his 2014 gubernatorial run, Baker faced a New Jersey ethics investigation when documents surfaced showing that he gave $10,000 to the New Jersey Republican Party just before Gov. Chris Christie’s administration awarded Baker’s financial firm a pension management deal. New Jersey pension overseers divested the state’s holdings in Baker’s firm — though Christie’s administration ruled that the state’s pay-to-play rules had not been violated.

Being exonerated by the Christie administration is hardly a clean bill of health, but it was an acceptable verdict from the MA voter’s perspective… and now they have a Governor who has come up with his own creative means of funding a favored initiative. Mr. Baker is a staunch advocate of charters and he has fully endorsed a (presumably) grassroots ballot initiative to allow for the expansion of charter schools in that state. Mr. Sirota, a dogged investigative journalist, has looked carefully into the funding of the advertising for this initiative and, lo and behold, it seems that Mr. Baker might have engaged in some pay-to-play chicanery to generate funding for supporters!

…the state pension board — which Gov. Baker appoints members to — gave lucrative contracts to manage teachers’ pensions to Wall Street firms whose executives then bankrolled the Baker-backed ballot initiative.

Baker is covered by (pay-to-play) rules because he appoints three members to the board of the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (MassPRIM). IBT/MapLight’s report showed that eight firms delivered more than $778,000 to groups supporting Question 2, which would expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Baker has led the fight for the ballot measure, and a group that received money from MassPRIM money managers is now airing television ads promoting Baker.

While the federal pay-to-play rules aim to restrict Wall Street donations directly to public officials and political parties, they do not explicitly bar such donations to groups that support a lawmaker’s favored cause — or that promote a public official in paid ads. However, the rulesdo include anti-circumvention provisions which prohibit financial firms and public officials covered by the law from doing “anything indirectly which, if done directly, would result in a violation of the rule.”

“These rules are in place specifically to prevent Wall Street firms from throwing money at the feet of those responsible for awarding financial contracts in an effort to curry favor in the awarding of those contracts,” said Public Citizen’s Craig Holman, whose watchdog group advocates for tougher ethics laws. “We are seeing Wall Street funnel their money to nonprofit organizations and super PACs that support the same governors — and now to a pet policy project of Massachusetts Gov. Baker, backing his ballot measure.”

In response to this gambit, Mr. Sirota notes that “the two largest teachers unions in Massachusetts asked federal and state law enforcement officials to investigate whether large donations to a charter school ballot measure backed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker violated anti-corruption rules.”

My guess is that the FEC or whoever looks into this will look the other way or, like the Christie investigators, declare there is only smoke and no fire. And the voters? If Mr. Baker’s election is any indication they will view the whole episode as unworthy of their consideration in deciding on his integrity. After all, he seems like a nice guy.

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Wikileaks Provide Insight into @HillaryClinton and #Education

October 28, 2016 Comments off

These leaks reinforce my impression of Ms. Clinton: she wants to come down on both sides of every issue possible. In her openness to “reformers” she can’t have it both ways: either the Federal Government is going to regulate all schools receiving public funds or it’s going to regulate none of them… and it cannot do the latter without excluding the children who need quality schooling the most. And the “bi-partisan” ESSA law is an example of how shifting more of the responsibility to the states will ultimately play into the “reformers” hand by enabling them to expand into states where low taxes are more important than quality and teaching to tests is better than teaching to think. So Wikileaks happened thanks to the Russians and whoever else. There is lots of talk in the current presidential election about a variety of topics emanating from the purportedly leaked emails on W…

Source: Wikileaks Provide Insight into @HillaryClinton and #Education

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