Monday, March 26, 2007

Preschool blues

A few days ago, a friend gave me a collection of articles about preschool and kindergarten. One of them was How Much is Too Much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Development Nationwide, which discussed the effects of preschool on later behavior in kindergarten. The authors analyzed data from the National Center for Educational Statistics and came to the conclusion that preschool has positive benefits for developing cognitive skills, but detrimental effects on learning appropriate social behavior.

After controlling for a number of factors, including family income, ethnicity, and "32 different features of the child's home and family," they found that attending preschool will typically increase a child's pre-reading and math skills, but at the cost of hindering social development in several areas, including levels of aggression, bullying, acting up, sharing, cooperation, and self-control.

And then today I read this article from the NY Times, in which different researchers not only came to pretty much the same conclusion, but also say that the effects last at least into middle school.

But in each case, since I haven't read the actual studies, I have to wonder, is this negative social behavior that they describing actually undesirable for the child's future development, or just behavior that's inconvenient for the rigid style of instruction used in some elementary schools?

A docile child who does what he's told at all times is certainly easy to handle in a classroom. But does such a child turn into an adult with critical thinking skills?

A child who can sit quietly through a dull lecture and reliably regurgitate the answers to the weekly quiz will probably get good grades and do decently on multiple-choice standardized tests. But will that child actually be educated? Will she know how to learn new information on her own?

I am not arguing for letting bullies run free in the classroom, nor for children to run wild and not have age-appropriate discipline at home and at school. But I do we need to tolerate a certain level of disruption and minor misbehavior in order let children be children? And to produce adults who can think for themselves?

One of the other articles my friend gave me seems to say yes. It describes Japanese preschool/kindergartens as places where teachers try to nurture a "childlike child" and allow high levels of noise and activity. The teachers in the article expect the children to be kind to one another and cooperative, but also highly energetic. When discipline problems arise in the classroom, the teachers encourage the children to work out solutions with the teacher gently guiding them.

I wish the abstract and news article said more about what kinds of negative behavior the teachers were reporting. I guess I have some more reading to do.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Service call

So I'm sitting here waiting for a repair guy for the Blue Star range. It's only been seven weeks since the grill exploded...they sure aren't in any hurry here. Ahem.

I'm feeling a little cranky in part because of one of those frustrating facts of life. Any time a repair or service person gives you a window of time ("I'll be there between 3 and 5 pm"), they're going to arrive at the very, very, very end of it.

Unless, of course, you're not there on time and then the repair guy'll arrive at the very first second of the time window and be gone by the time you come panting up to the house three minutes late.

Since I wasn't late today, that means that I've just spent the afternoon sitting at home waiting for the Blue Star service guy, who's still not here. He's got twenty-four more minutes before the window expires. And then another 15 because I'm sometimes late, too (yeah, I know, Steve, I know. Pot, kettle, etc...I got it.). And then I'll be ticked off. And still grill-less.


Well, he didn't show up at all. I left him a voice-mail back at 5 pm and hopefully he'll have a good reason for standing me up. Maybe he had a flat tire on a wilderness road and a mountain lion ate his cell phone before he could call me to say he's running late. Something reasonable like that.

So much for grilling something when J's cousins come by tomorrow. Oh well.


The service guy finally called...he's feeling sick and couldn't make it. No mention of how his cell phone is feeling. I sympathize, but only up to a point. He coulda called. Guess we'll reschedule when he's better. Unless Signature Marketing, the Blue Star distributor we're working with, can come up with a service guy who'll actually, you know, show up and do the service.


The repair guy showed up when he promised and fixed the stove. Nice guy, too. More on this in the comments, if you're interested.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Random thought

Way back before my Marvel days, when the world was young and no one had any fashion sense, I once attended a party at Antioch College while wearing a dress made out of two (clean) black plastic garbage bags.

Photo of actress from GoFugYourself.comAlthough I didn't look as pretty as this actress does, I'm pretty certain that I had the sense not to wear bright orange shoes with huge bows on them.

Apparently, that late-80's trashy fashion sense would stand me in good stead if I was now a happening young starlet dating the actor of the moment.

Wonder if her casual wardrobe includes those neon-bright fishnet slouchy ankle socks I used to wear. Or maybe some striped leg warmers.

Ah, this takes me back to the bad ole days.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It's not your father's Marvel Comics anymore...

What?!! The??!

Marcus blogged recently about what Marvel's been doing to their stable of heroes, but I had no idea how bad it's gotten. Now I do.

Either they're doing a retread on the old Superman death (yeah, he's alive again, what a surprise, sure didn't see that coming a mile away, yawn) or they're actually gutting the character of Captain America and putting someone else in the tights.

Either way, what the hell are they thinking?

I know what I'm thinking. To quote Marcus, "last resort of the hack."

Good bye, Steve Rodgers. We thought we knew you.

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Monday, March 05, 2007


I almost titled this entry "Why I Hate Marie." Except I don't, but you'll see what I mean in a minute.

It's been only a couple of days since I put Sitemeter on here after she mentioned it in a post and I'm already obsessed with it, too. I can see that someone in Pennsylvania searched for old prizer-painter on MSN and found my entry about the stove blowing up. That I'm being read in Egypt, Hawaii, and Michigan (no surprise, but now it's graphed, even). That someone looking for "stan drake"" juliet jones" on Google found this post and then left to see Stan Drake's site.

So much information! Why do I even need to know? And yet I check it. And check it. "Was the visit from Germany my cousin?" I wonder, "And do I know anyone in Missouri?" Ahhhhhh! Must! Stop! Now!

But I can't look away, now that it's here.

Thanks, Marie.

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