Saturday, April 18, 2015

Force-Feeding Knowledge

April 18, 2015
OK, time for the soapbox (= long post). I keep hearing about how necessary Universal Pre-K is so our kids can be READY TO LEARN by the time they get to Kindergarten. As if developing their brains by experiencing the world isn’t enough of a basis for learning.
I’m tired of hearing it. So here goes:
Here is a quote from a guest column to the Idaho Statesman by Rod Gramer, President of Idaho Business for Education:
“A review of district test scores indicates that 52 percent of the students enrolled in this pre-K program were advanced in reading based on the state assessment compared to 19 percent who were not enrolled.
“In math, 41 percent of the pre-K students were advanced on assessment compared to 30 percent who were not enrolled in pre-K.”
Huh? Thirty percent of the kids who were not enrolled in pre-K were advanced on assessment. That actually sounds like a pretty good average for no intervention whatsoever.
But my main question is, What’s the big rush? How many of us Boomers learned to read or do math before Kindergarten? (Besides one of my sisters, who learned to read at age 4 because my other sister came home from school and taught her.) As I recall, we learned our colors and numbers in Kindergarten, but they didn’t pull out the big guns—math and reading—until first grade. And we all somehow muddled through. I, myself, did not learn to read until the ripe old age of six; by this guy’s standards, I was practically geriatric! But I managed to graduate from college and have held a number of responsible jobs, despite that handicap.
If you’re worried because kids are sitting around watching TV or not experiencing life for other reasons, I think that that is a valid concern. But please stop trying to force kids to learn before they’re ready. While some kids are perfectly capable of learning at age 4, some of them just aren’t ready. And forcing the issue isn’t going to help.
And if you insist on “intervention”, research Parents as Teachers. It is a wonderful organization that lets parents see how their children’s play is actually teaching them lots of things—no alphabets or testing required. (Hint—your Tupperware cabinet is a gold mine.)

Choose Your Poison

April 18, 2015

Contradicting a study done in 2008, which found that people who have big bellies in their 40s are much more likely to get Alzheimer’s or dementia in their 70s, a new study, done with a much larger sample of people (2 million vs. 6,000 in the 2008 study) has found that people who are very obese have a 29 percent lower risk of becoming forgetful or confused, and of showing other signs of senility.
Of course, you’re more likely to have a stroke or a heart attack or get diabetes, or have other health issues. So I guess it depends on how you want to go.
But never, ever forget my advice: If you don’t like what this study is telling you, wait until the next one. It will likely contradict everything you’ve just been told.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Paging George Orwell

February 19, 2015

In an effort to cut down on food waste in landfills, Seattle is paying a waste contractor to go through people's garbage to see how much food waste and recycling they are putting in the trash. If more than 10%  of the garbage is either of those, people who don't recycle or compost (or pay a composting service to haul away the compost) will be fined $1 on their bi-monthly bills.

The city makes a valid point: It costs a bundle to transport the waste, and if food waste sits in the open, it rots and produces methane gas, which is considered to be a harmful greenhouse gas.

Also, the city has tried to be nice and educate and encourage people to do the right thing, with limited results. So now they're stepping up the effort.

Obviously the $1 every two months isn't going to break anybody.

But the government is paying somebody to go through people's garbage.

And it creeps me out.

Nothing Much In Particular

April 9, 2015

I’ve missed writing here, but there hasn’t seemed to be much to say, except for little dribbles here and there:

Like how realtors all labor under the same delusion that people want to see a bare, empty house so that they can imagine their own belongings there; when every person I’ve talked to—both the creative ones and the unimaginative ones—say that they like getting ideas from how the current owners have decorated. Sure, spacious is nice—but bare houses are not inspiring.

Like how spinning a bo staff is good for what ails you. I don’t spin it correctly—but it doesn’t matter, it makes me feel good anyway.

Like how the sameness of practicing forms is kind of soothing when things are chaotic; and how, just when you’ve gotten to the point of relaxing, the cat yowls outside the door, wanting to come in, and breaks the mood.

OK, maybe because it’s because I haven’t been paying much attention to the news. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either, huh?