Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ed Links (Between Disciplines)

From School Links

From The Economist, from broken windows to broken schools, bringing accountability and competition to New York City's struggling schools, imperfect though it is, New York's attempt to improve its schools deserves applause, while elsewhere in America, school reform is slower and messier, but the pressure for change is coming from parents, which bodes well. Research suggests early academic skills, not behavior, best predict school success. Where students can't hug: Draconian bans on public displays of affection in a growing number of schools have parents and students up in arms. Has the concern about harassment gone too far? A review of The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics by David L. Kirp.

Do-gooders can become the worst cheats

Morally upstanding people are the do-gooders of society, right? Actually, a new study finds that a sense of moral superiority can lead to unethical acts, such as cheating. In fact, some of the best do-gooders can become the worst cheats.

Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth By HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr.

LAST week, the Pew Research Center published the astonishing finding that 37 percent of African-Americans polled felt that “blacks today can no longer be thought of as a single race” because of a widening class divide. From Frederick Douglass to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the most fundamental assumption in the history of the black community has been that Americans of African descent, the descendants of the slaves, either because of shared culture or shared oppression, constitute “a mighty race,” as Marcus Garvey often put it.

The Problem With Youth Activism

The institutionalization of activism on college campuses is a key culprit in the absence of visible youth movements in this country.

Review of: Abigail A. Van Slyck, A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960.

Many social and cultural histories have examined changes in American attitudes towards gender, race, class, sexuality and the body, often with attention to prescriptive writings advising parents on how to raise children who might approximate these ideals in body and mind. Yet few historians consider how such many of these ideas were put into practice through the physical manipulation of space and the material construction of social realities.

Even babies judge their companions

Even infants can tell the difference between naughty and nice playmates, and know which to choose, a new study finds.

What Makes Us Moral

If the entire human species were a single individual, that person would long ago have been declared mad. The insanity would not lie in the anger and darkness of the human mind—though it can be a black and raging place indeed. And it certainly wouldn't lie in the transcendent goodness of that mind—one so sublime, we fold it into a larger "soul." The madness would lie instead in the fact that both of those qualities, the savage and the splendid, can exist in one creature, one person, often in one instant.

The Morality Quiz

The deepest foundation on which morality is built is the phenomenon of empathy, the understanding that what hurts me would feel the same way to you. And human ego notwithstanding, it's a quality other species share. While it's impossible to directly measure empathy in animals, in humans it's another matter. Here are some of the dilemmas used to study human morality. Take this quiz to see how you compare to other readers. Then read how scientists are using these dilemmas to study morality.

Voting By Altruists: Some Electoral Implications of Civic Virtue

The present analysis demonstrates that civic virtue can play a complementary role by increasing support for such [redistributive] programs and by increasing the efficiency of public services. Whether altruistic voters are common or not, the analysis of this paper suggests that the altruistic component of civic virtue can play a significant role in making democratic societies more attractive places in which to live. Even a relatively small number of civil altruists can make a difference.

Just Cool: Cellular Visions: The Inner Life of a Cell

The Inner Life of a Cell, an eight-minute animation created in NewTek LightWave 3D and Adobe After Effects for Harvard biology students . . . illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.

Is The Beauty Of A Sculpture In The Brain Of The Beholder?

Is there an objective biological basis for the experience of beauty in art? Or is aesthetic experience entirely subjective? New research uses fMRI scans to study the neural activity in subjects with no knowledge of art criticism, who were shown images of Classical and Renaissance sculptures.

Simple Retro Toys May Be Better For Children Than Fancy Electronic Toys

Old-fashioned retro toys, such as red rubber balls, simple building blocks, clay and crayons, that don't cost much are usually much healthier for children than the electronic educational toys that have fancier boxes, according to developmental psychologists. Children are creative problem-solvers and benefit from a toy that doesn't command the child, but lets the child command it.

Screening Tests To Identify Children With Reading Problems Are Being Misapplied, Study Shows

Screening tests widely used to identify children with reading problems are being misapplied, landing students in the wrong instructional level and delaying treatment for their true difficulties, says new research. The researchers find that oral reading tests fail to distinguish between children who can't understand words on a page and those who have language problems that make it difficult to prove their reading competence verbally. Children with these so-called "word-finding" difficulties can't manage to say out loud what they read on the page.

Student Facebook, MySpace Use Predicted By Race, Ethnicity, Education

A study finds student use of social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace can be predicted by race, ethnicity and parent education, challenging popular notions of the democratic nature of online communication. The study finds less intermingling of users from diverse backgrounds on these sites than previously believed. White students prefer Facebook; Hispanics prefer MySpace. Asian and Asian-American students use less popular sites including Xanga more than other groups.

Money Motivates -- Especially When Your Colleague Gets Less

The feelings an individual has on receiving his paycheck depend critically on how much his colleague earns. Hard evidence for this comes from a brain scanner experiment conducted by economists and brain scientists.

Even Very Low Levels Of Lead Cause Brain Damage In Children

Even amounts of lead in the blood well below current federal standard are linked to reduced IQ scores in children, finds a new six-year study. In the United States over the last several months, nearly 50 specific products, including millions of toys for young children, have been recalled due to excessive lead in the paint, plastics and metal. Researchers note that this study shows the very real dangers associated with low-level exposures, to which lead in toys can contribute.

Trauma Earlier In Life May Affect Response To Stress Years Later

Researchers report that rapes, sudden deaths of loved ones, life-threatening accidents and other such traumas may result in long-term changes in the stress response in some people, even if they don't have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Eating Disorders In Adolescents

A new study, one of the first to examine trends in adolescent weight control behaviors over a 10-year period, found that the prevalence of these behaviors in male adolescents significantly increased, while black females appear to resist pressure to pursue thinness.

Gender Roles And Not Gender Bias Hold Back Women Scientists

Traditional roles of women in the home and a negative bias in workplace support result in less career success for women versus men at the same stage of their research careers.

Model Explains How Abused Moms Decide To Leave

Scientists have found a way to help health care providers, social workers and abused women's families understand the stages that these women go through when deciding to leave their partners.

Early Academic Skills, Not Behavior, Best Predict School Success

Children entering kindergarten with elementary math and reading skills are the most likely to do well in school later, even if they have various social and emotional problems, say researchers who examined data from six studies of close to 36,000 preschoolers.

Neuroscientists Propose New Theory Of Brain Flexibility

Neuroscientists have put forward a new computational theory of brain function that provides answers to one of the central questions of modern science: How does the human brain organize itself to give rise to complex cognitive tasks such as reading, problem solving and spatial reasoning?

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