Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Are Americans Fat, Stupid, and Arrogant?

A school in Massachusetts has banned tag and other chase games basically because they don't want to get sued if a kid gets hurt. Frankly, I'm surprised they still have recess. Children might actually be able to explore their environment on their own terms, or move about at speeds greater than that of a slug if they are allowed outside. Also, they might be exposed to the sun's rays, thus increasing their risk of alertness. We can't have alert students. They might rebel.

Apparently, countries that "...embrace self-esteem, joy and real-world relevance in learning mathematics are lagging behind others that don't promote all that self-regard." (Here's the full report, in pdf format). In what way, exactly, are we, in the U.S., lagging behind? Eighth grade math scores. Economically? Not so much. So maybe real-world relevance matters more in the long run. Still, I am not particularly fond of the "self-esteem leads to success" movement that took over out schools (which is separate from the "real-world relevance" movement, or at least should be). Giving kids an inflated sense of self does not create more successful kids. But allowing kids to have a sense of accomplishment does boost self-esteem. Of course, if you eliminate competition to protect their fragile little egos and eliminate tag to protect their fragile little bodies (and your insurance premiums), it's kind of hard for them to get any sense of accomplishment. Hence, perfect attendance!

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