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Chinese New Year: Lesson Ideas

Education World – Linda Starr

“Have you and your students already forgotten your New Year’s resolutions? Lost the spirit of anticipation that the New Year brings? This week, Education World brings you another chance for a new beginning. It’s time to celebrate…the Year of the Monkey! According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Monkey begins on Monday, February 8.”(more)

Well-adjusted or only peer socialized?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Over the past fifty years what Americans believe makes a child well-adjusted has changed. Today many parents think a youngster is well-balanced if he/she interacts easily with his/her peers. Even though this type of social interaction is important, it is only part of what is necessary for a child to be happy, secure, and successful.

Children need to know they are loved and must have daily attention and socialization. Even though our society prioritizes peer socialization, it is equally important for kids to learn how to interact with people who are older and younger, of different socio-economic backgrounds, and from other cultures. It is also important that our children have open dialog with people who have different political viewpoints, interests, and careers.

Providing broad socialization does not have to be an expensive or time consuming process. Every community has people with diverse talents, passions, and interests and almost all areas have people from different cultures and of different ages. Rather than seeking safety in people who are similar, parents can reach out to those who are distinctive and include them in family events and social gatherings. This step allows their children to experience uncommon worldviews and cultural perspectives and have exposure to new career options, hobbies, and sports.

Sometimes we forget that emotional development is tied to physical well-being. To make matters more challenging, our lives are so busy that we overlook these physical necessities. Well-adjusted children need adequate sleep and exercise and need to eat well-balanced diets that include ample unrefined and minimally processed fruits, vegetables, meats, legumes, and grains. There are many websites that include recipes for quick, healthy options and fast food restaurants that provide fresh, wholesome choices.

We have less experience monitoring how our children are progressing beyond peer to peer socialization. As a result, it will likely take a conscious effort to make sure development is on schedule. Observation is often an effective tool. Do our kids actively engage adults in meaningful dialog in a broad range of subjects? How do they respond when someone broaches a topic which is new to them? Are they able to diplomatically disagree? Do they take the opinions of adults at face value or are they able to listen and form their own opinions? Have they developed new sports, art, or community interests?

Once a parent starts monitoring a broader range of emotional and physical components, they will have a good idea if their child is well-adjusted.

Cultural activities may influence the way we think

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that cultural activities, such as the use of language, influence our learning processes, affecting our ability to collect different kinds of data, make connections between them, and infer a desirable mode of behavior from them. “We believe that, over lengthy time scales, some aspects of the brain must have changed to better accommodate the learning parameters required by various cultural activities,” said Prof. Arnon Lotem, of TAU’s Department of Zoology, who led the research for the study. “The effect of culture on cognitive evolution is captured through small modifications of evolving learning and data acquisition mechanisms. Their coordinated action improves the brain network’s ability to support learning processes involved in such cultural phenomena as language or tool-making.”(more)

Cultural Activity Matters

Education Next – Jay P. Greene

“But now we have a rigorously designed study out of Denmark that shows cultural activity among students is strongly (and likely causally) related to later academic success. The study appears in Social Science Research, a Sociology journal that was co-founded by James Coleman. It examines a large sample of monozygotic twins in Denmark to see if their cultural activity was related to their teacher-given GPA, exam-based GPA, and rate of completing secondary school. To measure cultural activity they relied on a survey administered to the mothers of those twins that asked about what their children did when they were 12 years old. It asked things like: “How often child went to any type of museum” and “How often child went to the theater or a musical performance.” By comparing outcomes among identical twins, the researchers hope to control automatically for a large set of unobserved environmental and genetic factors. We could reasonably believe that a large portion of the variation in cultural capital among twins was due to chance and not differences in their upbringing or ability.”(more)

How Cross-Cultural Dialogue Builds Critical Thinking and Empathy

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“The world and the people who work and live in it have become ever more connected as the internet becomes more accessible. Yet despite the ability to connect and learn about happenings on the other side of the globe, many communities have become more polarized and entrenched in a particular worldview. As these trends emerge, teachers are looking for ways to foster productive dialogue skills in today’s students — the generation that will have to deal with complex, increasingly global problems.”(more)

Training the skills needed for a global world

CCTV.com – Shi Wenjing

“International talent has been THE buzzword in education for years. Cross-cultural communication and language skills, as well as the ability to adapt to different cultural settings have become the must-haves for top college graduates. The demand for Sino-foreign universities has increased as China opens up further to the rest of the world…19-year-old Haider is from Pakistan and is a sophomore student at NYU-Shanghai. He has just come back from a service trip from a remote county in China’s Guizhou Province, and is sharing stories of his unique experience with his team. The group built a playground for a local primary school…On the other side of the campus, Chinese student Yao Xiaoyun is experiencing her first class of interactive media arts…Yao said, “Living in this cross-cultural learning environment, I got the chance to learn how to respect the differences – between different cultures. And I also learned how to think independently in such a diverse environment.”…Xu Qiwei is in his last year at school. He is majoring in mechanical engineering…”I think our four years here has provided us with an international foundation that is needed in today’s world.””(more)