Giving the Right Kind of Praise

Cultivate Greatness has a powerful, long piece on current research into the role parental praise plays in encouraging children to succeed. As it happens, it’s not all about building up self-esteem by telling your children how smart they are. Instead, researchers find that kids do best when parents commend their hard work — and that complimenting them for their intelligence not only doesn’t help but can actually produce negative results:

But a growing body [Continue reading]

One Way Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Statutes Hurt Us All

We often hear about the marriage benefits that are denied to homosexual couples because of their inability to legally marry. This is a compelling argument — nobody should be barred, for instance, from the bedside of their ill or injured loved ones in hospital simply for lack of a marriage certificate that they cannot legally obtain.

However, laws that ban same-sex marriage (in Nevada we have a Constitutional Amendment!) don’t just prevent recognition of same-sex [Continue reading]

How to Have a Happier Relationship

Leo at Zen Habits offers Eight Keys to a Happier Marriage and they’re really good (and applicable to any romantic relationship, not just marriage). A lot of the advice seems like common sense — communicate, be prepared to put work into your relationship, that sort of thing — but it’s surprising how many people I see that need to be reminded or maybe even informed) about these simple principles. Take his third tip, “Speak Plainly”, [Continue reading]

Book Review: “Little (Grrl) Lost” by Charles de Lint

I’ve been a fan of Charles de Lint’s work since I was a young teenager and picked up a copy of Moonheart. Moonheart probably isn’t for younger readers, as it includes some pretty graphic sexual descriptions and some pretty dark situations, but minus the fairly adult sexuality most of de Lint’s work would easily appeal to younger readers. The central idea of all de Lint’s books is that there exists, somewhere between the corner of [Continue reading]

Teaching Kids About Art

The Wall Street Journal had an article recently about child art collectors, whose wealthy parents supply them with the cash to buy works by classic artists like Cezanne, Pissaro, and Rembrandt as well as contemporaries like Jeffrey Koons, Nao Matsumoto, and Michael Vasquez. We are treated to the somewhat unseemly sight of art gallery owners fawning over their 9-year old clients’ “eye for art” and a 14-year old who collects work with a candy theme [Continue reading]

Against Homeschooling

A few months ago, our 11-year old girl came home from spending the weekend at dad’s with a proposal. Her 11-year old step-sister, a competing martial artist who spends a lot of time out of town at competitions, was going to be homeschooled and her step-mother thought she should join them.

Now, there’s some history here — very different views on parenting between the step-mother and my partner, an effort a couple years ago to [Continue reading]

Book Review: “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman

The name-sake character of Neil Gaiman’s book Coraline is a bored young girl whose family has recently moved into a strange old house filled, by and large, with strange old people. Left to entertain herself by her always-too-busy parents, Coraline sets off exploring the grounds, meeting the neighbors, and puzzling over the strange door in the front parlor that opens onto a plain brick wall.

Except one night, Coraline finds the door open, and beyond [Continue reading]

Daddy Hack: Rubber Bracelets as Travel ID

Here’s an idea I whipped up when we took a family vacation in August. We were in Utah, doing some hiking and visiting ghost towns and the like, and I was worried about the kids wandering off. The best thing would be an information card tucked into each one’s pockets, but getting thm to keep it on them is, well… highly unlikely. The thing, I decided, would be to get them each a plain rubber [Continue reading]

The Upside of Educating

One of the benefits of being a teacher is that every so often you come across great discounts for educators. This weekend (and up until Tuesday) Borders offered an educator’s discount of 25% off all books, CDs, and DVDs. (I don’t know if that’s nation-wide or just in my area.) On Friday night they had a “reception” for teachers, which consisted of an employee manning a table with cookies and teacher’s guides and posters; I [Continue reading]

Book Review: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry’s young adult novel The Giver is a truly amazing book. Winner of the Newberry Award in 1994, The Giver tells the story of a utopian society located somewhere (somewhen?) in the future where lying is forbidden, competition is eliminated, everyone knows exactly where they belong, and death is unknown.

Or so it seems. When the main character Jonas is selected to be his community’s Receiver and enters into his apprenticeship with the old [Continue reading]