Monday, October 22, 2012

Feminist Parenting Link Dump

TV and Electronic Media

I've had this on-going debate with a couple of adult acquaintances who are die-hard SpongeBob fans. My feeling is that shows like SpongeBob that move at a frenetic pace are not good for language development, to put it mildly. (Not to mention the countless little violent interactions between characters that provide much of the humor in most fast-paced cartoons...) I also think that being constantly exposed to frenetic TV shows inhibits the development of an attention span, which is the most fundamental requirement for learning how to read. So I can't help but gloat a tiny bit when I come across studies like this: The Immediate Impact of Different Types of Television on Young Children's Executive Function, the results of which are summed up nicely here:
Simply put, television is both good and bad: there are good programs and bad ones. And, what makes programs good or bad has to do not only with the content itself but with what in communications research are known as the formal features of that content. Some sequences are naturally paced (eg, human-Muppet interactions on Sesame Street), and some are rapid (eg, SpongeBob SquarePants). Others occur in what seems like slow motion (eg, Mr Roger's Neighborhood). In addition to the pace of the show, formal features include the edits and cuts. Some shows change scenes more than 3 times per minute, whereas others have greater continuity. The “overstimulation hypothesis” is based on the theory that the surreal pacing and sequencing of some shows might tax the brain or parts of it, leading to short-term (or long-term) deficits. (from The Effects of Fast-Paced Cartoons)

Child Sexual Abuse

I completely agree with the approach advocated in this article: How Can We Stop Pedophiles? It just doesn't seem that controversial to me. Of course, I also have zero confidence in our collective ability to ever get to a place where we have a sensible and humane approach to sexual predators, but that's a separate issue...

Educational Approaches

book cover: Drive by Daniel Pink
Maybe this is just on my mind because of the choices I've made recently regarding preschool, but there seems to be a lot of recent research and writing that basically explains why a Montessori approach works so well in so many ways in which our traditional educational models fail. One great example is Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink. You should read it. It's not just about early childhood education, but it's an easy, compelling read that is extremely relevant to our educational choices. I highly recommend it.


  1. Anonymous10/25/2012

    I would guess that the key to the sexual predators issue is to try to shift the stigma away from being attracted to children. You would see a big cultural shift if the stigma was just attached to the action.

  2. I also think anybody whose job involves any level of management should read Drive - not just parents of young kids.

  3. Anonymous10/31/2012

    The quantity of tv watching in a child's day was a big issue for a long time, and I think it made people overlook the issue of the content of programming. When I was starting out as a kindergarten teacher, it was all about how much time children spend in front of a TV. It's about time the dialogue shifted to focus on content.