Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24, 2009 -- Baby Media, Reader Reaction, and More

BABY MEDIA. Seems that the Disney Company, which acquired Baby Einstein, a producer of electronic media for infants, is now offering refunds to purchasers of "Baby Einstein" videos marketed as "educational." The offer comes after pressure from public advocates and public health attorneys who threatened a class-action lawsuit. The advocate, Susan Linn, notes in The New York Times article about the matter that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 not watch video. So if you don't think your Baby Einstein videos truly benefited your young, high-ability child, here's your chance to get your money back. Read the article.

IT'S NATIONAL DYSLEXIA AWARENESS MONTH, and the executive director of The Bodine School, in Germantown, Tennesee, seeks to heighten awareness of the condition in an article in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. In the article, brought to our attention by CEC's SmartBrief, the director points out some of the features of dyslexia that differentiate it from an LD, and stresses how early intervention -- by first grade or earlier -- can allow dyslexic children to read normally. Read the article.

READER REACTION TO DANIEL WILLINGSHAM, who disbelieves different learning styles. (See our September blog posts.) Nancy Mathias took issue with Mr. Willingsham's views that "There just doesn’t seem to be much evidence that kids learn in fundamentally different ways. This is not to say," continued Willingsham, "that all kids are the same, or that all kids should be taught the same way." Ms. Mathias says: "If the idea behind learning styles is to get teachers to approach teaching in multiple ways, then Mr. Williangsham's views actually agree with the outcomes of teaching to different learning styles. What I find fascinating is I have a 2e kid who could do algebra in his head (he is a visual-spatial kid who thinks in 3d and is currently studying mechanical engineering/robotics in college), yet had difficulty showing step by step on paper how to solve problems. The teacher's solution was for him to do many algebra problems (written) because the more you do, the more you learn (this wasn't at a public school but a school for the gifted!). It was generally the drill-to-kill method of teaching. In this case, my n=1 study would indicate that teaching to any one style doesn't work. By the way, I call teaching one way 'vanilla'; it may smell good while you use it, but if you use too much it becomes bitter..." Well said.

FROM BRAIN IN THE NEWS. The Dana Foundation's print newsletter from October contained articles that might be of interest to parents and educators of high-ability children with LDs. Some of the articles were reprints of other media stories from September dealing with TBI, which we've been harping on a lot recently. Another article, reprinted from the Washington Post, is a Post staff writer's personal account of how long walks and running helped her deal with severe depression. "One day [in adolescence], particularly agitated, I fled my house and began walking toward a nearby mountain. I walked for a long while that first day, discovering some old dirt tram roads that seemed to snake all over the mountain. When I got home I was excited about my discovery--and happy. My mother was curious about how far I'd walked, so we got in the car and tracked it. I had walked 27 miles, and it did more for my emotional state than all the therapy and pills." The writer credits walking and, later, running with saving her life. Read the article.

MISSED IN THE ACTION. We missed an October 4th article in The New York Times titled "Understanding the Anxious Mind." In it, you can read how researchers have come to believe that some babies are born wired to be anxious, reacting strongly to unfamiliar stimuli, and that "strongly reactive babies are more likely to grow up to be anxious." These results are fostered by at least four major longitudinal studies, beginning in babyhood and following hundreds of young people. The article features a study by psychologist Jerome Kagan. Read it (be advised that it's long), and know that the article generated lots of reader comments.

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