When I Grew Up…

I’m going to start with a caveat: I get it. I understand where the people I’m describing are coming from. Nostalgia is a powerful driver, as is fear of the unknown. I also get that learning new stuff is much more difficult than it was when you were in school. I don’t believe those are sufficient reasons on their own to resist change. To the meat of it.

Yesterday, I discussed a different method for teaching multiplication, and I noticed a theme in the comments for the original post that sounded familiar, but from a different context. It was reminiscent of one of the arguments someone gave in an argument about spanking: “That’s the way it was done when I grew up, and I turned out just fine.”

I know I’m seeing this argument (and taking part in discussions where it comes up) because I am a parent. I’m going to keep hearing it. Parents are (very understandably) using their own upbringing as models for how their kids should experience childhood. There’s nothing wrong with using it as a baseline. I think any parent who stops with just that, though, is doing their child a disservice. It ignores the 20-30 years of development that’s occurred between you being in school and them being in school. It ignores the idea that you’re probably the most biased person about your childhood. Most confusingly, it doesn’t even try to give your child better than you had, and that’s probably what’s made the discussions so frustrating to me.

To be clear, I’m not discussing honest, thought-out critiques and complaints about these methods. I’m not advocating accepting change just for change’s sake. New learning methodologies should be scrutinized, but with better points than “That’s not what we did.” If you don’t believe sufficient research exists to support the newer way, say that. Just try to remember that these discussions are about getting to the truth, not about winning.

Thanks for reading.


Optimism From Otherwise Uncorrelated Data

Typically, I avoid trying to group ideas together when there’s no observed link between them. “Correlation is not causation.” There have been several new studies, though, that make me VERY optimistic about the future. Let’s get to it.

Teen Pregnancy Rates Continue to drop. That’s amazing. Not only are they declining, they’re continuing to decline. And that’s not a decrease in births. It includes all pregnancies that are reported, regardless of whether they end in live birth, abortion, or miscarriage. The rate is HALF of what it was 22 years prior. There’s a map on the page that shows regional variation. I count this as a great thing, given how socially, emotionally, and financially unprepared I expect most teenagers to be for childrearing. I’m not going to hypothesize why that may be, but I will note it exist. It’s also been shown that high school dropout rates also continue to decline, and Pew Research also published an article about Younger Americans and Public Libraries. They had several highlights, but this one stood out to me:

Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months.

Reading is important. Spelling, too. A recent xkcd recently mentioned a study that showed that kids who text more often are better at spelling. His explanation for why this happens seems to tie all these things together for me. This is a generation where reading and writing aren’t just an integral piece of their lives, but so everyday that it would be weird day without them, and hopefully that the ease of that communication encourages more open, honest discussions and makes life better for them.

I guess what I’m saying is that the next generation has all the statistics showing that they’ve got a lot of good behavior. There’s a lot of promise for a better tomorrow, and I find that exciting. Here’s hoping the bad behavior from their elders doesn’t weigh them down too much.

Thanks for reading.

This Will Not Be On The Test


I know this isn’t the same at every college, and I don’t even know if it’s still true where I went, but it wasn’t policy at mine to require attendance. There’s an subtle message in it: classes are being held for you. You’re not being held for classes. I think the distinction should be noted. There was no additional punishment beyond missing the lesson and you not getting your money’s worth. No one (at the school, anyway) was going to force you to do what’s in your best interest. The resources were always available, all that was required was for you to utilize them.

Also on the list of other things I probably should’ve figured out 10 years ago, we have homework. It isn’t what I thought it was. I thought it was an insufferable time-killer that provided an extra data point for the teacher to confirm their pet hypothesis that my efforts should probably be focused on burger flipping. Optimistically, though, it’s instead an opportunity to apply your new knowledge, to explore nuances that may not have been understood during class, to demonstrate to yourself that you understand it with the chance to review the material if you don’t feel confident about it, to form honest questions for the teacher during the following lesson, and to receive immediate feedback on the validity of these understandings. (I understand the frequent disparity between this and reality, which is why I caveated with “Optimistically.” In any case, the chance to explore and understand further remains.)

Where’s the application for those of us who are no longer seeking higher education? For me, it’s encouragement to do those otherwise tedious, mundane things that will absolutely wait right now in exchange for coming back to bite me later, to learn new skills, and to explore what tools and resources I’ve got available right now to get what I want done. For everyone else, well, I suppose it’s left as an exercise to the reader.

Thanks for reading.

I Read Things, August 12th, 2014

11 Mundane Objects That Are Statistically Deadlier Than Sharks

Turns out, not a whole lot of people are killed by sharks each year.

2. Balloons

The Question Doctors Can’t Ask

Apparently, in Florida, doctors are legally prohibited from asking if their patient owns a gun, and several states are adopting similar laws. I’m personally not a fan of this move, since it inhibits counseling about health-related issues. The proponents of it seem to have a paranoid delusion that doctors asking about guns somehow leads to… I dunno. The government taking away firearms? It seems like a reach to me, but, like any other topic, I’ll be happy to entertain any comments about it.

Dr. Bart Kummer, a gastroenterologist at New York University Medical Center, says he always asks his patients about guns.

“It’s part of reducing risks, and taking a view of the patient as not just a GI tract that ambles in on two feet,” Kummer told me. “So I ask about seat belts, helmets, safe sex, the standard questions about alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, hours slept, hobbies—some people work with molten metal—and what the American College of Physicians has asked us to ask our patients: whether there’s a gun in their house.”

Not Everyone Has the Tools to Become Rich: How Our Childhood Shapes Our Ability to Succeed

Who would’ve guessed that when you barely have time providing for your basic needs, you’d spend less time on self-improvement to make it easier to provide for your basic needs?

The difference is so drastic that children raised in poverty have brain activity that looks like it’s been damaged by a stroke.

Why Don’t Sharks Have Bones?

Cartilage is lighter and more flexible than bone, letting them swim faster. Their muscles don’t connect to their skeleton, but to each other.
New rule – YouTube Videos don’t get block quotes.
Also new rule – MOAR YouTube VIDEOS!

Atlanta neighborhood opposes ‘park-for-hire’ surface parking lots around stadium

I used to live in Atlanta. These people are doing the right thing. I don’t know what the solution for parking is, but every point against huge lots that spend the majority of the time not filled isn’t it. The overall message should apply everywhere:

Let’s treat parking as though it is our ugly, smelly garbage. Let’s bury it, hide it, deck it, camoflauge it. Let’s do anything other than letting it spread over our city’s blocks like the plague.