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Culture shapes the brain: How reading changes the way we think

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“From a research perspective, reading and writing is a fascinating phenomenon. After all, the first writing systems date back less than 6,000 years – the blink of an eye in the timescale of human evolution. How the human brain is nonetheless able to master this complex task is a key question. Current topics of scientific interest include exploring the differences between practised readers and illiterate individuals—and the consequences for people with reading difficulties—as well as the impact of poor reading and writing skills on global democracy.” (more)

Orange County parents opt to put children in language immersion programs

Los Angeles Times – Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil

“‘They’re learning how to speak English anyway, so it’s really no different for them to learn other languages at the time,” said Carrie Mizera, executive director of Renascence School International, a tri-lingual English, Spanish and Mandarin immersion program in Costa Mesa. “Their brains are really, really absorbent at that time, and that’s why we want to capture this opportunity and teach multiple languages.'” (more)

Lunar New Year: What the Year of the Dog is all about

Aljazeera – Staff Writer

“The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is one of the most celebrated events worldwide. The date of celebration varies every year. The traditions and celebrations go back in time and are transmitted from generation to generation; they welcome health, wealth and good relationships to come in the new year.” (more)

Chinese New Year: A Simple Lesson in Debt, Percent, and Loan Interest

Education World – Staff Writer

“A Chinese New Year tradition lends itself to a simple lesson in percent and loan interest. Kung Hey Fat Choi! That’s Happy New Year or, more accurately, May Prosperity Be With You, in Chinese. Each year, Chinese New Year falls somewhere between January 21 and February 19 (click for this year’s date). In China, the start of the new year is a time of celebration. According to tradition, the new year is also a time for clearing away bad luck and paying off old debts.” (more)

Embrace Change

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“If you do not create change, change will create you.” ~ Unknown

Change has always been an inevitable part of life. However, the speed of change and the amount of change a person can expect to see over his/her lifetime has increased substantially in the last 50 years. A recent Innosight study gives us an idea of the magnitude of the shift. In 1958, the average age of a company on the S&P 500 listing was 58 years. Now it is about 18 years. In addition, pundits suggest there are significant technological developments about every two years.

This rapid change can be overwhelming and can quickly leave those who are not actively embracing it behind. As a result, young people need practice adapting to change, so they can adjust quickly and efficiently.

In addition to helping children prepare for life on their own, change also:
• Teaches flexibility
Frequent change makes it easier to adapt to new situations, new environments, and new people. When kids have this type of exposure, it is less likely they will “shut down”          when something unexpectedly shifts.
• Encourages growth
Change forces young people to adapt in ways that are outside of what they have experienced which can help children with personal development.
• Reveals likes and strengths
It is challenging for a child to know what he/she enjoys or what comes easily to him/her unless he/she tries many things. Change is often the only way this exploration occurs.
• Creates opportunities
When the environment or activity is changed, kids can start again without any preconceived expectations.
• Fosters creativity
New environments force children to figure out how to integrate and succeed.
• Cultivates risk-management skills
With exposure, children learn to break change into small pieces so adjustment is easier.

Parents are often the biggest reason kids struggle with change. Many adults are fearful that change will make their kids socially isolated and encourage them to embrace risky or anti-social behaviors. Interestingly, many kids who embrace these undesirable behaviors attend the same high school for all four years and participate in the same activities year after year. These same kids often struggle to adapt when they are finally on their own.

Given how fast technology is changing one has to wonder if conventional wisdom still makes sense. Is it possible that 21st Century kids need a different environment to flourish – stable relationships with their parents and family members and frequent change elsewhere in their lives?

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)