I was really amazed to see how much my daughter reciprocated the attention and my friend was able to get her to pay attention to this or that or be much more engaged than I usually can.
This is obviously a very small sample, but it really made me think about the ways that we don't treat our children like adults (and how maybe they act like children because we treat them that way.)
A lot of kids' world these days is an artificial reality, made for them. School, soccer, art class, play dates. The reason the activity exists is to give kids an experience. We're not interested in it, because it's kid stuff.
When I was a kid, some of the most formative activities were fishing, sheep farming & vegetables gardening (grandparents on a farm), home repair jobs like painting or brickwork.
When I was very small (2-4), if my parents were painting a room, I was also in old clothes with a paintbrush "helping". Same with spring cleaning or whatnot. I had a little hammer I could bang, to help my dad assemble IKEA furniture.
You don't have to conciously "engage" in their stuff, just let them engage in your stuff.
One of my favourite childhood photos is me mowing the lawn (with a plastic "bubble spewing" lawnmower). A thing I used to walk behind my father as he mowed the lawn.
It never really had the soap to make bubbles in it. Didn't care about that. I was helping
Small kids have an instinct to learn: they follow you around and copy your behavior. It takes great responsibility to shape the future of a person. And with your own flaws replayed in front of you, you change, you become a better person because of it.
I remember that age. And I loved when I was doing stuff with my dad. Before I was 7 I had worked with wood, handled the axe and knife, welded metal, messed with bikes, capsized a boat, tied knots and shot rifles. I wasn't good, I didn't contribute, I was just given small tasks to free my dad to do the real work. I felt I was on the team, and I learned a lot.
My father always answered all my weird questions, and if he wasn't able to, he looked it up and told me at bed time.
When I was 12, and enthusiastic told him about a game have played on my Commodere 64. He listened and was understanding of my enthusiasm. Then he said: "But did you program that game?", and I replayed "No, of course not...". And my Dad replayed: "So you are only running other peoples programs...". That sentence is the reason I'm in IT and reading this site...
2. Buy a small hammer, a box of brad nails, and raid the wood cutoff container. Total cost $20.
3. Give these things to your kid.
Then I went through an uncanny valley period where I was too young and uncoordinated to use nails, but too smart to be kept busy with pointless hammering.
I read a book that talk about how to improve on this , when ever my 5yo daughter shows me some of her drawings I try to take notice of some detail and comment on it, not just say 'that's nice dear'. She draws masses and masses of pictures of stick girls in dresses, but I always try to find some detail that she's done different.
We often draw or paint together, maybe once or twice a week. The last time we did it, I painted a picture of a boat on the sea, she painted a space portal that takes you to another world.
It sounds lame, but I came to think of kids a people too vs just children. As in they are adults whose brains haven't finished wiring themselves and they deserve not just to be treated with respect, but also to be thought of respectfully. It's obvious to me now, I mean I can remember how some adults treated me all the way back to 3 yrs old or so. I'm that kid, just older.
I am sure if she came over to your place for 50+ times she would also act different than the first time. I think It’s ok to be bored with a 2 year old request to show the same book or the same picture over and over and over again.
I'm not sure how to solve for this, but I'm trying to instill that conversations and interactions have to be two way, so just because "you are interested in X" doesn't mean that talking at someone over and over about things they are not interested in isn't a way to foster satisfying interactions for all parties involved.
A parent might placate and be always "oh that's so interesting!", but their peers? Their peers might ignore them leaving the kid confused as to the response.
It's the interaction. She wants you to read the same book to her because she knows that you do the voices and act it out and she gets to interact. That's the point. If you ask them, they'll tell you what they value. You don't have to think your way around them, they know, even by the time they're 3 or so. People have desires, and they can tell you what they are, with some help and elicitation.
I remember being a kid and how people would be disinterested in you beyond anything superficial.
I often wonder how much of this effected my later behaviour.
If I get amped up, I become a firehose of consciousness tangents ADD-I but it's usually better to chill, listen and only say what's most important than no-filter crunk-tired.
Moving to the burbs where play was organized sports and kids had everything done for them was a really big shock.
It was hard to believe how inept at life most of my peers were when I went off to University. They only things they knew were what was on tv or from school.
It's sad how the U.S. Government prevents native American kids to have this experience in populated areas. There's a cultural vibe of individualism preventing overwatch of kids by adults which has led, in part, to the prohibitive autonomy that I had as a kid.
I was told by my mom that at the age of 4 years old, I hailed a taxi cab alone in the Philippines while she went to the bathroom in a McDonalds. That would never happen here in America.
I don't quite understand what you're saying here, but I'm genuinely interested. Could you clarify?
Active listening: What I thought you said is that in, say, the Philippines, there is a culture of individualism that prevents adults from hovering over kids (not sure how that follows), which leads to the kids having significantly more autonomy than in the U.S. (and maybe you used the word "prohibitive" incorrectly?).
I was also raised by American parents in a village in equatorial Congo--thus my interest.
Rather than being ferried by car to the school, and taxied to a series of child appointments, I walked to school alone or with friends. That including crossing a 4 lane highway, at the lights, in a major city. I must have been doing that at age 5 and 6 as at 7 we went to a different school. I don't remember my parents ever taking me apart from the very first time. Maybe a couple more times at most then. Same for everyone else - we all walked. Now every school is near unreachable thanks to the hundreds of cars from parents who are usually near enough to walk.
When playing out I was often told not to come back until dinner, so we'd go off and do stuff.
Every adult around, and everyone else's parent would give us a telling off if we were being out of line. A shopkeeper or stranger might come out to yell. Everyone seemed to have half an eye out for all the kids.
The individualism of today's adults all around has led to them ignoring, or putting up with the excesses of, everyone else's kids. Few would dare say anything, and would probably get a torrent of abuse from the parent if they did.
The over-hype of abuse and stranger danger hasn't helped either - serious things, but not exactly as common as the media imply. Adult males have double the reason not to speak to or tell off someone's child.
After school, the "bike gangs" of kids would be roaming free, stop in for dinner, and then back out till dark. Everyone had this freedom.
As the kids became teens, this being the late 70's, a tax law created incentive for publishing and insurance corporations to move to Iowa. Their families brought major city / coastal teen attitudes, including appetites for a drug culture that Iowa was not sophisticated enough to manage. That Iowa Innocence seems to have been lost. Now it is just another generica in the US corporate sameland, with the original Iowa Natives unable to understand what happened to their culture.
Is this a very cleverly disguised allegory for the loss of indigenous culture by invading hordes, descended from Europeans who settled the coast of what is now the United States? Do you actually consider small town mid-20th century midwestern US culture to be the culture of the "original Iowa Natives"?
I course I recognize these are not the original Iowa Natives. I am referring to the ideal of small towns and their community culture. Which was very real not that long ago.
When I try that with my daughter there is a 97% chance she'll end up at a friends house playing Minecraft or something similar (or she'll just end up in her room playing computer games). Personally I don't think the problem is so much that we don't let kids out, rather that there are so many other, screen based, things competing for kids attention. We don't have to ban kids from playing in the streets since we couldn't convince to do something that boring if we tried.
Whereas in the US the modus operandi is “Well it’s not my kid what do I care? Their parents must be terrible people for not standing right next to them”
For example, as a 7 year old in eastern-ish europe, I would walk 1km to school on my own every morning. The worst that ever happened was when me and a friend decided that umbrellas arr the perfect snow shovel.
Nonetheless, I'm a 34-year-old American who has been lighting matches since probably the age of 5 or 6...
There are two major cultural ideas, cultures of individualism  and cultures of collectivism , that I vaguely pointed out. They're not exclusive but you don't always notice them intertwined together often. In my experience, the Philippines, had both cultures but usually led with a dominance of collectivism. I had autonomy , much like the article, to make my own decisions that were un-coerced. That wasn't to say that my parents didn't parent, or that individuals would watch over me where ever I was. In example, I would wander a mall (273k m²~ in size) as a 6-10 year-old kid and when my parents wanted to find me they would look at the shop keepers which would point in the direction I went. I remember chatting with different store keepers like it was normal. That leads me back to the idea of collectivism. I had tons of "uncles" and "aunts" (mostly local college students) which would collectively parent me, but I also had people I barely knew who would watch out for me. There was a construction site next to my parent's house which I would often visit. Those guys would obviously watch out for my safety but when I visited during their breaks they would talk to me, ask how my day was, what I was up to -- small talk. I also lived in post-Soviet bloc Poland, it was a similar experience.
In the United States, when we visited and ultimately moved there it was extremely different for the most part. I had walked not even a quarter mile to a local barbershop in Huntsville, Alabama before I got stopped by police asking where my parents were. I never once had that experience overseas. There was also a cafe, local bookstore, a few restaurants, and a few other shops on that block.
Eventually, it got to the point where my parents took away the majority of my autonomy to go places because of Child Protective Services (CPS). It fell into a few categories but the two big ones were: the hype over stranger danger and the issue of perceived safety of myself by the U.S. Government. I do want to admit that my experience, which has shaped my opinion, would be different if I had lived in Rural America. CPS can be a terrible organization to work with because they're overworked leading to snap decisions rather than understanding the context. I've heard horror stories from friends over the years of the stuff that organization does because the government has the "best interest" for everyone in every situation (one of those friends was a Parent Advocate for the local Public Defenders Office). Also, if you need another example, look at ICE.
On Individualism in America, when was the last time you saw a stranger interact and correct/parent another person's kid in a grocery store. Swizec and NeedMoreTea had a great summary too:
> The individualism of today's adults all around has led to them ignoring, or putting up with the excesses of, everyone else's kids. Few would dare say anything, and would probably get a torrent of abuse from the parent if they did.
> The over-hype of abuse and stranger danger hasn't helped either - serious things, but not exactly as common as the media imply. Adult males have double the reason not to speak to or tell off someone's child.
> My interpreta is that in many other countries there is a sense of collectivism in that everyone takes care of children and collaborates a little bit. If you see a kid, you don’t think something must be wrong, you lend assistance to their parents by being an impromptu guardian and help the kid achieve their means.
> Whereas in the US the modus operandi is “Well it’s not my kid what do I care? Their parents must be terrible people for not standing right next to them”
> For example, as a 7 year old in eastern-ish europe, I would walk 1km to school on my own every morning. The worst that ever happened was when me and a friend decided that umbrellas ar[e] the perfect snow shovel.
Hopefully, that provides a bit more clarity for everyone.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomy && https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomy#Child_development
If you want a deep dive, this is a good paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12518973
I can accept that you make a distinction, but to me the beginning and end of individualism is respect for individual autonomy, and I suspect that a lot of English literates would agree.
As someone who grew up with zero structure and seeing my wife who came from a very strict background I hope if we ever do have kids we'll land in the middle somewhere.
I did just fine living on campus freshman year (just under four years ago now). I don't think things are inherently that complicated.
Maybe I had more exposure than I think, but in the age of the internet, it's pretty easy to figure things out.
The article writes:
> For starters, he says, ask your kid this question: 'What would you do if you didn't have to do anything else?'
I often wonder what civilization would be like if adults asked the same question to themselves and then lead a life where they focused on that instead of being pressured into "making a living".
I imagine we'd have an abundance of pilots, and actors and a severe lack of toilet cleaners.
The alternative is a central authority setting prices, which has historically had disastrous results.
The market forces that determine pay are more competition between folks that hire others to clean toilets. If all of your competitors pay twice as much as you, you might not have quality employees... or any at all, if a job is readily available. If you have a lot of folks desperate for income, you can pay less. If there are few folks that are willing to clean toilets, you probably pay more.
You could go without folks to clean toilets, but your average Western accountant probably isn't going to clean the office toilets or breakroom willingly unless it becomes standard for office jobs everywhere. Many places simply cannot leave dirty facilities - and in some jobs, you probably would rather have separate staff cleaning (hospitals, for example).
Luckily, there are a lot of levels between "unregulated, free-market-will-take-care-of-it" and complete control from a central authority. Minimum wages, worker rights, workplace safety, safety nets that ensure less desperate people, and so on.
We can redistribute profits from investors to low wage workers like the people who clean toilets, but the consequence of that is lower return on investment, and with it, lower rates of investment/economic-growth.
In the long, policies that lower economic growth rates are very detrimental to all classes of workers. What increases wages for people like toilet cleaners is high levels of production relative to population.
Investment is the mechanism by which we increase production, and profits are how 1. resources are distributed to those who are most effective at growing the economy's level of production 2. people are incentivized to invest to increase production.
There's no escaping economic laws, and no free lunch from policies that redistribute income from high income earners to low income earners.
Other compensation that I'd accept instead - social status, respect, ability to spend my time in beautiful places and talk to interesting, educated people, opportunities to work in interesting buildings or locations, opportunities to work for organizations that I believe in, ability to have more kids, and live in a community that sees childrearing as a community responsibility. All these things are easier to find if you have money, but they're not exactly things money can buy.
Another way is to keep the free market as a price discovery mechanism, but introduce a mechanism that counteracts the tendency to accumulate wealth.
Raising the income of a toilet cleaner doesn't correspond to a general rise in prices. It might mean the development of self-cleaning toilets, which isn't a bad idea.
The public bathroom still needs cleaning itself, though. Unless you're suggesting that a Japanese toilet is a robot that cleans the whole bathroom? That would be interesting!
I once had a summer job as a manager of this issue - my job was to find a cleaning company and assure quality in one company building (roughly 500 toilets, around 30 cleaners). From my experience, these people were unable to properly do their jobs (not the cleaning part, stuff like opening windows so the toilet doesn't smell like acid and actually dries, not forgetting to clean something...). None of these people would be able to or would want to invest the time to learn to repair the incredibly complex Japanese toilets - they will rather live on welfare. Of course it's anecdotal and I'm sure that a lot of people will do just what you said - most certainly not everyone though, and there won't even be place for everyone, rather like every hundredth at most.
> Unless you're suggesting that a Japanese toilet is a robot that cleans the whole bathroom?
Yes, there are "toilet boxes" that can clean the whole thing including floor, ceiling and walls.
or we could pass laws to bring in temporary workers from other countries and keep the wages down.
Wage is compensation for labor and follows all of the normal market rules of supply and demand.
A living relates to the amount of money needed to pay for them to live. Rent, food, etc.
"lifestyle cost" is the above plus non-necessities.
Wage has zero relation to a living, and lifestyle cost. Your wage doesn't go up just because you want to spend more money at brothels in nevada, and it doesn't go down just because you stopped needing to spend as much money on food because you got a costco membership.
Or to put it simply, the rate of your labor has zero relation to your wants and needs.
>Wage is compensation for labor and follows all of the normal market rules of supply and demand. //
It only follows those rules because those able to influence it have brought in that regime -- USA has been wetting its corporate pants over the idea that the hierarchy of wages might be broken by communism for some time. (Not to say communism is good, just it amuses me how they had to demonise communists - coming over here with their egalitarianism, trying to treat everyone as a person, embodying the maxim of 'being created equal' - in order to maintain capitalism and keep the peons/proles in their place. I digress.
Wages can reflect a person's worth to the owners of a company (they're worth X, because they bring us X+Y leading to profit) ...
OR they can reflect that people are "equal before God" and that one person's time is worth the same as another.
But, my time is worth more than their's -- well great, you can benefit society all the more.
But, no-one will work unless you use greed, selfishness, subjugation of others to motivate them ... well let's just keep mass murdering each other every 50 years or so we can keep the corporate masters in the style they're accustomed too.
supply and demand
I'll bet there are trash collectors that earn more than commercial pilots on second tier carriers.
not a problem because we probably would have selfcleaning toilets by then by default.
They're somewhat terrifying cubicles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fw9hxMCBdU
" I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
- Stephen Jay Gould
How about this: Give the kids a fire pit. I'd bet that most of them would rather learn how to start and maintain a fire than play x-box. I know I'd rather be chopping wood than sitting in an office chair.
"Fire pits and power tools good for preschoolers"
I've met US teenagers who don't know how to use matches.
A month ago there was a thread about the "one book that changed your life": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17168136
I read Mindset by Carol Dweck since then and found it very interesting (and applicable to some parts of my life and behaviour).
Lol. When I was at basic training (Canadian military) we of course didn't have cellphones or computers, but were allowed books. The image burned into my mind is of my platoon on a rainy day in the woods. Everyone is in camo/weapons, huddled together to keep warm while waiting for a truck … reading game of thrones. Those novels were better protected from rain/mud than any weapon.
I have a dozen projects that I could be working on. But it is a Sunday. Canada day. Tomorrow is also a holiday. The bosses aren’t here. Other than us and the guards, the building is empty. Nobody is in the mood for the never-ending stream of online courses we are supposed to work on in our free time. It is Xbox and the web until quitting time.
Because that's all most people can do after 8-10 hours (+ commute) of soul-draining work, and then some household chores. Let's not assume that this is the default of human leisure just because it's all people have energy for after hard day of work.
It's often said that pain is the best teacher, but it is also common to refer to "the carrot or the stick". Pleasure provides motivation just as great as pain. Lately on Hacker News people have discussed addiction to smart-phones, referring to the dopamine hit resulting from notifications. We also see this with television series, where people will spend hours of free time binge-watching a show. It may well be that we can no longer control ourselves.
A recent science-fiction piece references this phenomena: "I read pdfs of outlandish philosophers, but I do it while frantically checking for notifications" and "Normally I just fulfill my smart contracts and go back to reading Deleuze and Guattari, by which I mean I play first person shooters while the pdf is up on my other monitor".
Hikikomori provide another interesting example, perhaps without the social pressure; although I admit that I'm not very knowledgeable about Japanese society. It's been too long since I've read them; but the books "Hikikomori: Adolescence Without End" and "Welcome to the NHK" may provide some insight.
While I would like to think that humans are intrinsically motivated to _do_, experience shows me that most people are content to merely consume. Technology engineered to keep us scrolling only seems to exasperate the issue.
Reminds me of the concept of interpassivity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpassivity. We maybe be intrinsically motivated to _do_, but we have developed technology that can satiate this desire, e.g. watching someone else play video games on twitch.tv.
If you wanted to remain living in your ideal world, you would make adjustments to your life for the sole purpose of maintaining your lifestyle instead of just thinking "meh, someone else will do it".
I have to think if this were built into how we lived for hundreds of generations, then your mindset would even change from "maintaining my lifestyle" to "this is what we do to keep everyone happy".
I'm not a hardcore socialist either. I'm almost the opposite. I like the idea that if someone puts in a lot of effort, they should have a lot of success. I have no sympathy for people who want to just watch TV and expect to be carried by society. But, at the same time, I would much rather live in a world where everyone was happy doing what they love, and everything just worked out without the concept of money.
Where we would probably disagree is how realistic this is - to me, on truly global scale (not some isolated ie swiss/swedish experiment but places with properly f*cked up work mentality and life attitude like russia or any post-war country), it's very, very far from reality. I won't live long enough to see even a glimpse of what we discuus.
Not that it makes me anyhow happy, but it's important to have a realistic view on important variables. Everybody has a dark side. I've seen even the best and brightest and hard workers to slack badly once they lose motivation, ie changing jobs. Better have a system that accepts these flaws and still extracts value for society even in non-ideal way, rather than working with some ideal human being that is simply not out there.
b) I imagine that in a world without meaningful work, having meaningful hobbies might be seen as trendy. Just like eating poorly and being unfit signal low social status today, being a media-consuming couch potato would be considered low-class.
As much as I'd love to follow my heart, I also know that the things I find personally interesting aren't the same ones I'm good at. Alas, it's also in a field where only the very best make any money at all.
If the first: I agree, it would be interesting to see the changes. Would we see more of Google's 20% time?
If of one's self: I think many do. I don't think the change would be as large. I already see many people spend their time on projects they are interested in. And I've seen that work be discouraged in favor of the assigned tasks/priorities. That discouragement can lead to a negative feedback loop of discouraging others.
 https://medium.com/swlh/get-3-billion-big-by-staying-small-p... (There are a few articles linked throughout with a significant source list at the bottom of the article.)
Marshall Brain's "Manna" is an interesting exploration of this question.
The crux of the matter is the requirement for responsibility. Rather than have this goofy teenagehood that runs from 13-25, forcing the matter of responsibility at an earlier age and accepting the failures is a critical difference.
Protecting children and ensuring they are not morally damaged runs exactly counter this reality. There's a good deal of cognitive dissonance and parental self-delusion going on here as well.
I have generally grown to have a dislike of child labor laws that prohibit or limit working after 14. It's doing a great disservice to the young adults who could be doing something constructive in character.
Same goes for chores: children should be doing a full set of chores in household rota as soon as they are physically able. Vacuuming, dishes, pet litter, etc.
It is insane that some parents I know would like to reply to this part of your answer like this: "Kids should be kids you shouldn't force them to be adults too soon or you might steal their childhood". I've literally heard that.
I view my kid as a roommate - one I have responsibility for. As they become capable, they obtain agency and will be asked to deliver on that agency, within the limits of their capacity. Sometime around 16, I will expect them to execute the full tasks of an adult, barring rent. In turn, I will operate as a counselor and guide at that point, giving them a cushion when their attempts fail; the cushion will be mostly removed when are 18.
Childhood in the WEIRD view is a recent innovation, dreamt up by the middle & upper middle class in the 1800s, much like teenagers in the 1900s.
These ideas of what constitutes normative behavior for specific ages are contingent on our cultural matrix and are not hardcoded.
1. Polite request
2. Polite command
3. Stern command
They know I love them and because of that love obedience is required. Situations rarely escalate past step 2, and step 6 is memorable.
ETA: for anything past the polite stages, I try to always follow-up with gentle counseling after they've had a couple minutes to think about it. "Do you know why you got into trouble? How could you have handled the situation better?". Complete amnesty is the rule during counseling, i.e., no matter what they confess, they will NOT receive punishment. I want them to learn by reflection.
Kids are capable of much more than we give them credit for. Often people "can't" pay attention because they don't want to. Obvious exceptions apply (mental handicap, fatigue, etc).
For adults (or maybe just the nature of internet conversations), it can seem like a power dynamic. I demand you reflect me back to me, speak my language, concepts, awareness - not your own, etc.
That's what it can feel like, being required to pay attention at all times, like one person is the programmer, and the other is the computer.
It's nice to have a mind that sucks up everything but it's also nice to have a mind that is self directed.
As we age, we get stuck in ways of thinking, knowing, understanding just because we accumulate personal identity. These things are much more fluid if one allows them to be, that's what paying attention can mean. The idea of obedience, eek. Mental handicap, mental fatigue - without concrete proof, I think it's wise to not apply labels to individuals one must interact with.
People sometimes have difficulty paying attention because they need to come to their own understanding independently, and if you are always trying to shove information in - making sure they can output that information in the correct format, one isn't letting them get there as an individual.
Capable, sure they are. Sometimes they can be much more aware than they appear to be too, and the only difference that capacity doesn't manifest itself is because in a system where the only options are - reflect information in these correct formats, otherwise adult observation implies 'no attention paid', I mean... Can you be capable and feel as though you got there as an individual if those are the rules of the system?
Simplified, give people time, have patience. The reasons why they aren't 'getting it' is because you are trying to give the whole thing to them. Sometimes people want to get there independently, and once that gets boring, they probably can develop a greater desire to get there with others.
I'm also hyper conscious about the media they consume. The girl began consistently saying please and thank you after watching The Busy World of Richard Scarry and we never prompted her or even explicitly taught her those words.
I've also noticed that my kids are "easy" compared to many other children I've observed, but I've also wondered how much of this is luck of the draw and how much is a reflection of their environment.
I also had almost a decade of experience interacting with small children in my job before I ever had any of my own and I still find parenting and maintaining patience to be the hardest thing I've ever done. No parent should ever be hard on themselves for the decisions they've made. The struggle is real and no parenting decision is "wrong." Without a diversity of parenting styles we would not have a diversity of people, which I consider integral to the survival of our species.
I'm still curious about the motivations of those downvoters.
Also, I apologize for the meta discussion in this already off-topic thread.
> Although some studies have found no relation between physical punishment and negative outcomes, and others have found the relation to be moderated by other factors, no study has found physical punishment to have a long-term positive effect, and most studies have found negative effects.
See here for a useful meta-analysis: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10567-005-2340-z
I am so glad that in my country physical abuse of the child is a punishable offense.
this is interesting, i will try this.
If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it.
In the western world the answer to that question is often some addictive activity such as playing video games, or watching videos on youtube.
I was a relatively free-range child. I had a bike, I had a pocket full of quarters to call home if I needed to, and if I wanted to I could stay home and play video games (we had an NES, followed by a SNES, but not that many games).
What did I do? I rode my bike to the library and took out books from the programming section. The first ones were video-game inspired. You could get the source code of a game in a book and type it into the Vic-20. I was obsessive with it. Once I'd gone through all of the game-books they had, I started making my own. And then we got a used XT and it. was. on. Quickly went from QBasic to a C compiler (PowerC, if I recall). Around '97 or so we got a Pentium 1 and I heard about this thing called "gcc" which was apparently a better C compiler, so I ended up installing Linux.
And here we are, 20 years later and I've turned all of that into a great career. At the time, my parents were pretty dismayed that I wasn't into baseball, or soccer, or basketball, or whatever... But they did a great job at keeping things balanced. Don't want to play sports? That's ok, but we've got to go take the dog for a walk.
I fully accept that a lot of the computer-related activities are significantly more addictive now (and passive) than they were back then. If I wanted a new game, I had to ride my bike to the library! But... I'm always leery of people who suggest heavily restricting screen time just because it's screen time. If that's the direction someone's going, they might just need a little nudge to make it a more productive learning experience.
Now... Not so much. Much of the hardware is locked, nevermind the software. So kids get to thinking they can't make anything, that it's a primarily passive experience.
To me, that's the big problem, to become passionate about passiveness.
For the record my 5 year old runs KDE on a fanless laptop. It's been great for him to learn letters at school
If you want to do programming, you can do a huge amount just using browser APIs (and that is kind of nice because it is very easy to share what you do by sending people a link). You can do graphics (canvas, svg, webgl), audio, and so many other things.
But to use a computer creatively you don't have to be a programmer. You can use paint programs, 3d modeling programs, music programs such as DAWs, word processors/text editors for writing, and a huge number of other kinds of software that allow non-passive, creative activities.
The problem, as I see it, is that so many passive things are available too, and many are very attractive to kids.
Sure, you can go find an open environment, but when I was growing up, I was already there; and that made all the difference. I didn't need a mentor to introduce me. I was free to stumble into the world of software via my own interests.
The limitations are arbitrary and nearly impossible to get around. Computers, especially smart phones, tablets, etc. are being treated less as property of the buyer and more as property of the seller/manufacturer.
For example: When it is very difficult to unlock a bootloader, then most people do not find it interesting to try other operating systems. Very few are more creative, and the rest are just prevented from exploring/learning/creating just because they have the wrong device.
She'll probably be coding by the time she is 8, but she mostly does graphics and music now (for instance, she uses piano-karaoke software I developed that runs in Chrome on most any device). The "unlocking the bootloader" issue hasn't cropped up yet, but maybe I would be more frustrated if we had an iOS instead of chromeOS, Android and MacOS devices.
This is a problem that has been somewhat avoided in the Android ecosystem, but the trend is definitely negative.
Maybe the question is more about the behavior of the adult than the child? Parents need to enable their children's interests. Maybe your child really wants to roller skate but can't do it unless you enable them by watching them, because it's a dangerous neighborhood. It's your responsibility to foster their interest by making the time to help them.
Or maybe the idea is that parents sometimes don't actually know the interests of their children? So the point of the question is not to open time in the kid's schedule for their activity (because they're doing that activity already). It's to make the parent more aware of what the activity is?
I never would have been a programmer if my parents filled my schedule with football, like they wanted to.
One of the more surprising things I've discovered as a recent parent is how prominent tablets are as a distraction or learning tool.
I'm no exception. We bought our son a cheap, bulletproof Amazon Fire tablet, ratcheted the parental controls to the roof, and let him watch videos or play with it when he requests it (and use it as a helpful distraction when he gets bored in restaurants.)
I'm split on how to approach this. On one hand, I would have done anything to have this magical infinite learning device when I found myself bored as a child, but I also recognize that the content on it is more often than not designed for addiction. Our son is not yet old enough to understand even rough warnings of addictive behaviors, so we're kind of watch-and-waiting. We limit screen time per day, but as he gets older, and gets access to a web browser, I'm not sure how I feel about those limits in relation to traditional information sources.
A video game is an immersive experience that allows an individual to effectively sync into a state of flow detached from reality.
If reality is chaotic and stressful and reinforces that sentiment from all directions to yield those internal feelings of agony, it seems obvious that anything that can alleviate such agony would be immediately ran to.
Better to be addicted to video games than heroin, right? At least video games can teach modular reasoning. And yes, extreme cases of video game addiction have led to death, but a kid having a daily hobby of playing video games after school is not the same thing.
> Better to be addicted to video games than heroin, right?
> At least video games can teach modular reasoning.
Or programming, having a job you have passion for and are good at, being able to produce work people see value in, sustaining yourself, you know, not living in a gutter and stuff dying of a heroin overdose?
> Only in terms of your physical health. Otherwise iirc addiction is defined as having negative effect on your life (work, social, personal) so it is as bad.
Well, if you love video games and everyone around you hates video games, and thinks video games are as bad as heroin, I could see how that could have a negative effect on your work, social, and personal life.
And, just to be pedantic because I hate the term, the Yucatan is in the Western World.
I think the threat of being screamed at and intimidated made my brother and I two of the most well behaved kids I knew. I would see my friends going bananas and think, “are you guys out of your minds?”
I’m not advocating this style of parenting, and I won’t replicate it, but I can’t deny that the old school mechanism of raising kids was basically “sit down, shut up, or else!” and it made kids much more likely to listen. And the view of children as mini adults who could be useful, if properly trained, has been the default parenting style for thousands of years.
I remember reading a theory, long ago, that the absence of this is the entire source of teenage rebellion. Like the children from Guatemala in this article, it also said that this phenomenon pretty much only exists in "westernized" countries.
Basically, the theory is that puberty is when our bodies start telling us we're adults and need to take more responsibility/control, but society doesn't let us. So to find ways to take control, teenagers start doing things they're typically not allowed to do.
I'm in your camp: I never really understood why others did what they did, but fitting the theory, my parents did steadily treat my and my brothers more like adults as we grew up, instead of like kids most of the time.
One suggestion from their parenting style, that's apparently rare based on what my friends said:
Never give your kids an allowance. Once we were old enough, they started paying us for more chores/responsibilities; I got $5 for vacuuming the house once a week, my brothers each got $5 for mowing the lawn (usually split between inside and outside the backyard). Additional $1 for loading/unloading the dishwasher. Stuff like that. It doubled as giving us an inherent understanding of money long before we needed to work, rather than just giving us more responsibilities as suggested in the article.
Then we moved to the city at 11, and I was still allowed autonomy, and most of my activities were self-directed so long as my scores were good in school.
Well, my life has given me evidence that you get no guarantees no matter how much autonomy or independence you get. Sometimes it's just sheer luck.
I once had a very interesting conversation with a high school teacher of mine who taught very high-level math. Speaking only of his students who were in honors courses, he said that there was a clear divide between students from religious homes and students from secular ones. The religious ones were much more diligent and willing to learn. The non-religious ones may have been smart but were sometimes unmotivated or couldn't handle the rigorous pace of work. The religion itself didn't matter - we had Hindu, Christian, and Jewish kids in the class, maybe one Muslim but I don't remember. He himself was a Christian so maybe he was biased, but I believe it.
There's probably some selection bias going on with the religious homes thing. Like the hidden variable that both religious adherence AND discipline/work ethic are caused by: a belief in a meta-order that one should conform to and operate within.
i.e. It's reasonable to assume that more traditionally religious parents are people that tend to prefer (a) explicit order and structure, and (b) conformity or deference to authority. If you value those things, you will likely place a higher degree of value on discipline and work ethic in your own life and in your children's lives.
On a more subtle level -- and this will likely be unpopular on here -- I believe that sincerely religious people are also more likely to have a certain "default stance" towards life / the universe... that their actions matter, that they want to be "morally good", that they must take into account a perspective other than their own (either God's perspective, their priest's, their parents', etc). That combined with a kind of earnestness... seems like a good plan for success in life.
Obviously not saying those are exclusively or even principally religious attributes.
Also not saying that that stance is absolutely the best one. You can likely index too far that way too.
I simply can't imagine anyone here in the UK or in Australia (where I went to school and university) making such statements relating students' diligence to religious background.
(For what it's worth, I went to a Church of England-run high school, where the top students were overwhelmingly non-religious.)
In so many ways, the USA is a very different country...
To me it seemed they were just kept in a bottle for years and then other development started as soon as it could away from mom and dad.
Granted, what you and I think of as strict parenting could be very different things, and a few had a sibling who actually stuck with a very straight and narrow path through life.
On average, the kids raised like this tend to do what autority tell them when autority is present. It is different when autority is not present and they are in presence of weaker kids.
It is still the same today, I can watch with some alpha parents who act like that.
The result is bow to the top, kick below.
The parents for whom crossing a line resulted in verbal/physical abuse but were otherwise fine tend to have good relationships with their kids. While the punishment is much more severe than it would be in other families, there's a clear logical structure that a child can understand. When I was younger I would say stuff like "My dad hit us sometimes when we were being dumb, but otherwise he was great". However, I've long learned that people that grew up in the middle/upper class don't want to hear statements like that and get extremely uncomfortable, so I now leave it at "my childhood was good".
On the other hand, the people I knew growing up that had a father that was arbitrary with their anger tend to have non-existing/bad relationships with their fathers. I'd see situations where the father would tell their son to do X, son would respond that they've finished X already, father would lose their temper and scream at them to do X again, which made no sense. When you do that, you're not teaching a lesson or imposing any structure, you're just teaching your son that you're an asshole. Unsurprisingly, these children grow up with extreme resentment towards their fathers that has lasted into adulthood.
People possibly react strangely to that for a few additional reasons?
- Culturally now, "hit" can refer to anything all the way up to criminal domestic violence, blunt weapons, and hospital visits.
- Kids routinely cover for their parents, even when they are the second kind- the kind that just lose their temper, beat their children unconscious, etc.
Less vague terms like "spanked", "slapped", etc might cause milder reactions...
Best advice don't be your child's friend be parent plenty of peers who can be friends but none that can be parents.
However I hope in the future we be friends, when I don't need to wipe their ass or provide food and shelter.
I think of "friend" as someone you enjoy spending free time with and are willing/open to confiding in
I don't know exactly how that fits within the definition of being their "friend" exactly. It sounds a little adjacent to friendship to me.
I don’t hate my dad, he is a flawed man but I love him. We both like NFL, boxing, and movies so we talk a lot about that.
My brother is mostly estranged from my dad and they talk rarely, but we all do get together most thanksgivings.
I can't speak about your experiences, of course. In general, my understanding from experts is that being yelled at trains children to simply avoid being yelled at; they don't learn good behavior.
> And the view of children as mini adults who could be useful, if properly trained, has been the default parenting style for thousands of years.
I don't see that as a positive. The world was a horrible place for thousands of years; it was only in the last century that we started figuring things out, got children out of coal mines, learned germ theory, democracy and human rights became the norm, etc. etc. I like our modern ideas much better.
Which is correct? Remove the non-self part.
"He took care of I." "He took care of me."
"Me" is correct because it's the object.
"My brother and I climbed a hill." "My brother and me climbed a hill."
"I climbed a hill." "Me climbed a hill."
"I" is correct because it's the subject.
This is a real grammatical rule. It is prescriptive, that's what grammar means.
You can keep not believing it, but that does not make it any less true.
I would love the text-only site... if it worked.
it's 621752789. I would then click any random story on the default "plain text site" (https://text.npr.org/), to quickly get a base URL for a story, and then replace the sId in the URL with the copied number. Thus:
>We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
It’s one thing to let your kids free roam in a village that has a single dirt road going through it and almost everyone around you is a cousin or has known your family for generations. It’s quite another in the suburbs where you have only had a 5 minute chat with one neighbor in 3 months.
I’m also sort of skeptical of applying a value judgement to one or the other — I’m not sure that it would be beneficial to raise your kids that way in the developed world, although it sounds nice in the abstract.
I also dislike the ‘more autonomy’ argument - somewhere in the article it says something like ‘ we can’t give kids that much autonomy because it would be dangerous’. So it’s setting up a morally superior scenario and parenting approach and then discounting it as inapplicable in the modern context. What does that tell you about kids? Nothing. But it tells you a lot about society’s priorities.
I’ve got a counter conclusion; the American kids have seen the toys before and they’re just not that interesting. The Mayan kids have fewer toys so are interested in playing with them.
What would you do if you didn't have to do anything else?
Then create space in their schedule for this activity
I'm curious if their measurement of paying attention to an unrelated task performed by someone else is a measurement of attention or curiosity.
> Now, many parents in the U.S. can't go full-on Maya to motivate kids. It's often not practical — or safe — to give kids that much autonomy in many places, for instance.
I'm not asserting that traffic is the only US safety concern (or that it's even comparable for that example), but I would have hoped the authors would at least put in a link to an article regarding safety concerns or the controversy, without implicitly taking sides.
Now, it may still be true that pedestrians or child pedestrians are killed at a higher rate (per capita, per car, and/or per mile driven) in the US than in Guatemala (or other countries that are not "rich"). However, for that possibility to be plausible, there would need to be at least a credible, substantive explanation.
The dig at Americans' self image as "rich" is a reference to the famous line by Enrique Peñalosa: a developed country is not a place where the poor have cars; it's a place where the wealthy ride the bus. I live part-time in Switzerland where the traffic violence rate is a small fraction of what it is here in the US. I let my kids roam the city because it's safe. I won't let them roam around in Oakland where we don't even have sidewalks. My neighbors consider themselves to be very rich compared to my neighbors in Zurich. They have a huge tacky mansion and two Porsche SUVs, and their kids are stupid and fat and have diabetes.
What's the "it" here? The article's statement? If so, that's my disappointment. They could easily have added the adjective "perceived" or ommitted the part about practicality.
> The dig
A dig is not, in general, substantive, and I fear that your use of words like "hellscape", "backward", "filthy", "tacky", "stupid", and maybe even "fat" have a tendency to inflame and thereby distract from whatever on-topic point you may have.
I work at one of these schools, and our kids are really good at paying attention. ADD is a real thing and still affects some of them, but we also have a lot of kids who were diagnosed with ADD and it turns out when they are interested in what they're doing, their attention span is completely normal.
Of course the problem is that, even when something is interesting to the person at a high level, there may be subsets of that activity which are dead boring.
When a professor starts a sentence with "It may be the case that" it is clearly just personal opinion and not published scientific fact. The professor intentionally makes the disclaimer that she has no proof for the hypothesis.
I’ve handed a bunch of Mayan kids my iPad and they didn’t give it back to me for hours. They totally forgot their beautiful handmade toys in an instant.
In other words, should the Maya kids be learning from the Americans?
Career wise, the trick has always been learning to aim my obsession at the problem.
Whenever America is different from the rest of the world, most americans' default position is to assume it is worse.
The only exceptions are behaviors with some kind of cultural identity behind them.
I wonder how much this has to do with the value of child life.
What are the statistics of Mayan children being run over / kidnapped?
I can't imagine it's somehow safer in Mexico, just somehow parents are more willing / less informed to take this risk.
It's far less safe in Mexico than in the US, though it's probably still safer in Mexico than Americans perceive it to be in the US.
> just somehow parents are more willing / less informed to take this risk.
You seem to presume Americans are well informed here; they are not. They consistently vastly overestimate the current risk and incorrectly perceive it as increasing when statistics does it is decreasing. Mexicans could be more willing to let their kids out because they are better informed (at least, have a more accurate perception of the risks) rather than less informed.
In other words, how much of those numbers is explained by said lower probability, and how much by parents' willingness to trust their kids?
Most of the time, I tend to think as long as good basic care is taken of kids, they can work out all sorts of weird child rearing environments just fine.
Something that has given me pause though is the astonishing addictive power of the various “screen” which occupy so much attention. Unibiquitous telecommunication is something new in human history, and it really grabs hold of people, the young as much as anyone. My concern is that our highly tuned psycho-physiology has not evolved to handle the type of activity, and it’s distorting our consciousnesses, and ability to pay attention, in ways that are unhealthy.
(Similarly to how humans have a hard time with too much access to processed food with high calorie amounts.)
My boss never tells me this :(
I think the theory that work will expand to take the time allotted is true, and I bet the motivation of getting done early is a big contributor as well.
Maybe you can pitch it to your boss :)
So maybe the Maya children are more attentive in the origami/toy experiment — not because they have better attention spans — but because they are more motivated to pay attention. Their parents have somehow motivated them to pay attention even without being told.
They say maybe... I can think of other reasons why Maya children seem to be more interested in anything happening in a western lab, than western kids. I don’t know the details because I haven’t read the original paper, but reading the article I’m not sure this effect has been ruled out.