Taking Children Seriously

How can we expose more people to critical thinking?
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roger
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Post by roger »

viscousmemories wrote:I can see how it might seem like that, but do you have any evidence that it is? Do you believe that a 3000 word, decidedly sparse introduction to an educational theory gives you enough information to make such a determination?
Do you have any evidence that it is valuable?

Yes, I would say that if someone cannot articulate the general outlines of a theory in 3000 words they are either very poor communicators, or there is nothing there. I don't have any books right at hand, but last night when I read this topic I pulled the book "Bipolar Disorder" off my shelf and read the first 2 paragraphs. It starts by saying how difficult a disease it is to diagnose and test because of it's chameleon type appearance, but then quickly goes on and offers an outline of the disease. Two paragraphs in and you know _basically_ what bipolar is. By 3000 words you have a handle on the disease, and some idea of what you _don't_ know yet (which is a lot). You know enough to explain the disease to somebody else. This is pretty standard for psychriatic texts. I can summerize Freud, Jung, Gottmann, you name the therapist, in 3000 words. It's easy peasy.

In constrast, we have vaguely written introduction, and a poster (you) that states he is unwilling to defend or argue it. No evidence has been offered for the quality of the information in that site. It seems reasonable, given limited time, to walk away. Time is limited. Reading the introduction, and dipping into the various articles, reveals no emperical evidence, no labratory tests, no references, no peer reviewed papers, just more and more banal sentences. I admit to 'dipping', or sampling, but sampling, say, "Bipolar Disorder" reveals copious footnotes to other studies, significant emperical evidence, testable claims, case studies, charts, etc. A riffle (literally) through it will convince you that the book is at least serious. The data may be completely crap, the references could be made up - but a quick trip to the library will clear that up (as it turns out, the author is highly respected in the field, and the book is highly regarded). The site you offer gives me none of that (that I can find).

So, tenative conclusion - banal or wrong. I will give it another look if better evidence can be offered. I will not read 60 articles because someone who is unwilling to actually defend or define the concepts exhorts me to.

Huntsman
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Post by Huntsman »

After reading roger's posts, I feel I must add something to my statements.

What he said.

Well put, roger :)

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viscousmemories
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Post by viscousmemories »

Huntsman wrote:Alright.

Please, viscous, could you show me where AT ANY POINT I claimed to have read THE ENTIRE SITE?
You said:
However, if you read the site (which I have, apparantly my hour was better spent than your time)[…]
Which I interpreted (incorrectly, apparently) as you saying you've read everything on the site.
I would appreciate you finding someone else to deride. Your venom does not wear well.
I apologize. I was being a smartass because I thought you were exaggerating about how much of the site content you'd read, but it wasn't my intention to be venomous.
I will say I was rather hostile in my reply; perhaps I should not have been. However, I have always been one to call it as I see it and not hide behind mannerisms...the site is crap.
The site may be crap (I find the arguments here compelling in that regard) but I still think the content has some value. I'll elaborate on that soon.
I gave an honest opinion of my thoughts on that site, which follow along with Chani's. I read their intro dialogue, some of a the posts and a couple articles. At that point, the entire thing was so muddled, inconsistent, and frankly uninspiring that I refuse to waste my time with the rest, seeing no indication that there was anything different there.

Which is why I asked you to, specifically, point me to the areas where you found relevent material.

In the pages I read, I found a lot of banalities, sappy little one-liners, and almost zero actual content.

If you have found actual content, which apparantly you have, could you please point me to the relevent pages? I have a job, school, and a family that I spend time with; my time is not worth wasting to read a few days worth of fluff.
Fair enough. I really should have done so to begin with, but I honestly intended this thread to be a simple link to what I thought was an interesting education related site to help fill the dearth of threads in this young forum. I didn't want to argue about it, frankly, because I'm too lazy to research it well enough to defend it. Particularly given the fact that it's not relevant to my life. I agree that I should at least present what I think is interesting about the bit I know, though, so I'll do that.
As to contradictions, and my statement that they disclaim being an educational theory, try the quote found in their intro dialogue:
“The problem is that TCS is not an educational method or a parenting strategy, and if you think of it as a method, you're likely to get a wildly inaccurate impression of what it is like.”
I will stand corrected on this one, they claim it is not a method, they may still claim it's a theory.

However a theory that does not suggest a method is as useless as a theory that can't be tested. Which is essentially my point.

It's either a method, at which point it contradicts itself, or it's a theory and no method, at which point it really doesn't have application.
I appreciate the concession and (I think) understand your objection.
Of course, considering that the first article on their main page suggests "Smashing the TV and burning the books", which is described as "essential reading", I also get a feeling they are simply a reactionary group, and this also makes me consider that their grasp of psychology, human nature, and child-rearing issues is, as I stated, idealized and disconnected from the real world. There is nothing wrong with children watching television, and there is nothing wrong with a child reading books. Conversation is good as well (which is what they suggest as the only thing).
I strongly suspect that piece was meant to be ironic. Particularly considering the reader comment ("I'm afraid the irony might be lost") immediately following it. From everything I've read the TCS folks are very far, ideologically, from book burners.
It's pop-psych with little grounding in real psychology, and while I may be cynical, their entire philosophy/nonmethod/theory/whatever it is today is based on an idealized view that doesn't stand up to reality.
That may be true, but you haven't proven it. Nevertheless I agree that the burden of proof should be on me – given my endorsement – so as I said I'll try to summarize the points I thought were important.
It's like someone coming along and saying "Hey, I have this great idea! I know how to have world peace and make everyone happy! All we have to do is talk to each other and compromise, and everyone will be fine and there'll be no crime or war!"
Understood. I'll try to respond to roger first, then I'll work on putting together something akin to a summary of the TCS concepts I found interesting.

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viscousmemories
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Post by viscousmemories »

roger wrote:Do you have any evidence that it is valuable?
Not currently. :) As I told Huntsman, though, I will at least try to present the few points I thought were interesting and/or important.
Yes, I would say that if someone cannot articulate the general outlines of a theory in 3000 words they are either very poor communicators, or there is nothing there.

<snip>

In constrast, we have vaguely written introduction, and a poster (you) that states he is unwilling to defend or argue it. No evidence has been offered for the quality of the information in that site. It seems reasonable, given limited time, to walk away. Time is limited.
Point taken. I suspect the culprit is poor communication, but concede that it may be that there is nothing substantial in the theory. Again, I'll try to summarize the points that stood out to me. I concur, though, that we're probably not going to find a lot of empirical evidence to confirm or deny the effectiveness of the theory. From what I can tell it's mostly a small, grass-roots social movement. I suspect there isn't a lot of hard science behind it.
So, tenative conclusion - banal or wrong. I will give it another look if better evidence can be offered. I will not read 60 articles because someone who is unwilling to actually defend or define the concepts exhorts me to.
Fair enough. Thanks for your response.

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Abraxas
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Post by Abraxas »

First of all, I briefly flicked through the site (to read it all would take most of my spare period, something I don't give up easily...lol). Based on the few parts I read, I see nothing supporting their views, and feel it is (common in pedagogy) a rehash of old concepts.

During the late sixties and early seventies, it became fashionable to view children in a revolutionary light. The last time this happened was with Rousseau's views of raising children 'naturally', by giving them more freedoms and letting them learn through nature rather than through pure discipline.

Rousseau made some sense, however it was striking because it was in contrast with the concepts of raising children in the day (e.g., babies were swaddled to prevent muscular spasticity...an entirely false proposition). Academics constantly attempt to revolutionise education still today by treating children as equals, giving them freedom and expression and reasoning with their desires.

In practice, it constantly falls down. Why? Because children are not adults, and lack the reasoning skills many (not all, mind you) adults possess. Some children are indeed advanced thinkers, and the methods proposed by TCS may work with them. However the majority of children below a certain age need to have basic Pavlovian conditioning applied (sorry to say) where something dangerous is associated with a punishment, and something beneficial with a reward.

Schemes such as TCS chiefly rely on the natural consequences of a child's action to discipline their thinking. However, many social actions lack such direct consequences, or have consequences which are delayed. Stealing and not getting caught, having a poor diet, not completing work at school...all have short term rewards which, to children, can shape poor habits. Reason does not work in many cases because the child often has no real ability to rationalize through empathy or through non-egocentric understanding.

What of the opposite -- consequences which are extremely dire in the short term? For small children, no amount of discussion will make it obvious that some things are dangerous.

I'm a firm believer in balancing reason with reward and punishment. With an unruly student, I often reason the first few times, making consequences quite obvious ('I've told you that shouting out is unacceptable. It is rude and interrupts others. Now, if you shout out again, you are choosing to stay back during break to discuss why it is rude with me'), and reward those doing the right thing ('Thankyou Billy for putting your hand up. Now, what was it you were wanting to say?').

Nothing like experience to make this stuff obvious. I've seen teachers lose it with kids, and you can tell they won't last much longer in the industry. But when academics keep renaming the old hippy attitudes with new labels, I can't help but feel that many people are indeed sadly raising children who will lack social skills and be disadvantaged by that.

Abraxas
'There is a mask of theory over the face of nature,' William Whewell

Huntsman
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Post by Huntsman »

Abraxas:

I love you, man

Another "What he said" from me. He's given a clear and concise description of why I keep calling the theory idealized and non-realistic.

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Sundog
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Post by Sundog »

My methods have the advantage of having been proven successful, at least for my kids. I am in no way going to suggest that what I do would work for all kids, but it certainly works for mine.

I have always used a combination of these approaches. The kids have a huge amount of freedom, but they also know that Dad is Dad and lays down the final laws. They are free to argue and do (very well I might add), but in the end, I'm the boss, and they're fine with that.

All I do is respect their intelligence and appeal to their sense of reason. Of course this would be laughably inadequate for some kids, but mine have grown up beautifully and are model students. They have never been spanked. Far from being spoiled brats, they are active in community service and church work (their mother sends them to church; they aren't believers but they put up with it), have a great sense of moral responsibility (being Democrats ;) ), are all at the very tip-top of their classes scholastically, and in short are absolutely model kids in every way.

More bragging: My 14-year old daughter is president of the National Junior Honor Society, was president of her Student Senate last year, is taking advanced classes in math and physics in summer school so she can participate in the Gifted program in high school, is an award winning artist, an award winning writer (we're talking statewide awards here), plays guitar as well as I do, is good at softball, and is immensely popular. She can discuss intelligently anything from politics to Heisenberg's uncertaintly principle (last night's dinner table topic). My 17-year-old son is in the National Honor Society, was ranked #5 in a class of over 800 , and plays half a dozen instruments (very well). My youngest daughter (11) has also won several awards for writing, and is also a straight-A student, just like the other two.

Repeating this for the third time, I do NOT think all kids will react positively to this atmosphere. Many would simply take advantage. These are completely exceptional kids and have never taken advantage of our liberal methods.

Respect their intelligence and don't try to browbeat them with your opinions, and lead by example; that's my method in a nutshell.

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Abraxas
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Post by Abraxas »

Sundog wrote: *snip*

Respect their intelligence and don't try to browbeat them with your opinions, and lead by example; that's my method in a nutshell.
Sundog, you can't do better than that. Is there a perfect parenting model? No, because kids are indeed individuals who follow their own paths. There are some mottos of parenting that work better than others (I don't believe in corporal punishment, however a quick smack for a child can often substitute the punishment they would otherwise receive if they drink bleach, cross a highway or tickle Bo-Bo the pet baboon where he don't like to be touched :D ). But for the most, you can only be a good role model, respect them as human beings and demonstrate that they should do likewise.

I teach a lot of spoilt kids, and you can see their parents' words in their actions. 'Don't take no shit from no-one' is a favourite, and one I hate. It is translated in the kids' mind into 'If anybody disagrees with you, don't accept it'. They feel they should be respected first, without the need for them to show it back.

I don't have kids of my own yet (something about the geneva convention and 'cruel and unusual punishment on the rest of society...'), but believe that from what I've done with my students achieves good results. Show love and respect, be human, lead by example and make your own expectations very clear.

Abraxas
(ps., congrat's to being a good parent. It can't be easy in today's world...)
'There is a mask of theory over the face of nature,' William Whewell

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Sundog
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Post by Sundog »

Abraxas wrote:(ps., congrat's to being a good parent. It can't be easy in today's world...)
Thanks. It's quite frightening. I thank Grid every day that I wound up with such a batch of winners.

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viscousmemories
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Post by viscousmemories »

You know actually several of you have made some really good points, and I honestly don't know enough (or care enough, really) about TCS to produce even a reasonable summary, much less an adequate defense of it. So I'm not going to try to do either. I appreciate everyone's insights on this thread, though. (Even you, Huntsman :D ) and I look forward to more discussions on other topics. :)

I grew up in a family that was part of a very restrictive religious cult and I don't feel like my intelligence and critical faculties were taken into consideration in how I was raised, plus I was physically punished and I disagree with that, so the strong focus on kid's input and the eschewing of corporal punishment are probably the two biggest reasons I was drawn to the TCS method when I first stumbled on it.

Nevertheless, as several of you have very skillfully pointed out, it certainly isn't the only method that encourages (or discourages, as the case may be) those behaviors. Thanks again for the enlightening discussion. :)

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Sundog
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Post by Sundog »

viscousmemories wrote:You know actually several of you have made some really good points, and I honestly don't know enough (or care enough, really) about TCS to produce even a reasonable summary, much less an adequate defense of it. So I'm not going to try to do either. I appreciate everyone's insights on this thread, though. (Even you, Huntsman :D ) and I look forward to more discussions on other topics. :)

I grew up in a family that was part of a very restrictive religious cult and I don't feel like my intelligence and critical faculties were taken into consideration in how I was raised, plus I was physically punished and I disagree with that, so the strong focus on kid's input and the eschewing of corporal punishment are probably the two biggest reasons I was drawn to the TCS method when I first stumbled on it.

Nevertheless, as several of you have very skillfully pointed out, it certainly isn't the only method that encourages (or discourages, as the case may be) those behaviors. Thanks again for the enlightening discussion. :)
Yourself, and
WELCOME TO THE FORUM!

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viscousmemories
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Post by viscousmemories »

Sundog wrote:Yourself, and
WELCOME TO THE FORUM!
Thanks! :pb:

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Abraxas
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Post by Abraxas »

No...hang on...this isn't right!! Where's the fighting? The ignorant comments? The ad hom' attacks??

You can't just 'learn' something and then admit humility! It's not right!! It's...it's never been done before...

aaaaagggh!! :o

Abraxas
'There is a mask of theory over the face of nature,' William Whewell

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viscousmemories
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Post by viscousmemories »

Abraxas wrote:No...hang on...this isn't right!! Where's the fighting? The ignorant comments? The ad hom' attacks??

You can't just 'learn' something and then admit humility! It's not right!! It's...it's never been done before...

aaaaagggh!! :o

Abraxas
:lol:

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iain
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Post by iain »

It isn't really a parenting guide (and I haven't used it as one) but I have found "Mind Sculpture" by Ian Robertson to be a scientific evidence-based informative explanation our current understanding of how the brain develops in children and what implications that might have for how we raise and educate the little swines/darlings (delete as appropriate).

It explains that children aren't just adults with less knowledge : their brains are quite different in structure and operation. When children learn, they are creating new physical pathways in the brain and sometimes destroying old ones.