The book documents the organization of children’s learning and social lives, especially among children whose families have historical roots in the Americas (North, Central, and South), where children traditionally are included and contribute to the activities of their families and communities, and where Western schooling is a recent foreign influence. The findings and theoretical arguments highlight a coherent picture of the importance of the development of children’s participation in ongoing activity as presented by authors with extensive experience living and working in such communities.
Children Learn by Observing and Contributing to Family and Community Endeavors provides a major step forward in highlighting patterns and variability in the normative development of the everyday lives of children, expanding beyond the usual research populations that have extensive Western schooling in common.
Read also: Children From “Underserved Minority” Backgrounds Have Strengths for Learning
Children’s learning is fundamentally based on their prior skills and knowledge, as educational institutions enhance and expand students’ skills. The background skills and knowledge that “underserved minority” students bring to school are assets that are often unnoticed, to the detriment of these students and others who could learn from them. Skill in collaboration, for example, is a strength of many Mexican-heritage and Central American children, and it is an important skill for learning and for contributing with which many middle-class European American children have difficulty. Attention to the skills and cultural resources of “underserved minority” students can support their learning and can enhance schools’ instructional approaches, to the benefit of all children.
A key area of strength in some “underserved minority” communities is skill in collaboration. Other areas include: attentiveness to surrounding events, skilled storytelling and narrative, metaphoric thinking, community-mindedness, helpfulness, perspective-taking and consideration, and systems thinking.
Children learn to share and show concern from an early age. Parents and teachers might often wonder how to teach children caring toward others – more so when the world feels full of disagreement, conflict, and aggression. As development psychologists, we know that children start to pay attention to the emotions of others from an early age. They actively take into account others’ emotions when making decisions about how to respond to them. Does this mean that children feel sympathy for others from an early age? And is there a way in which parents can teach their children to be sympathetic? The ability to feel concern for others is one of the key characteristics that make us human. Sympathy binds individuals together and increases cooperation among the members of the society. So, one of the things that we can do to facilitate sympathy in young children according to developmental research is to use what is called “inductive reasoning”. Inductive reasoning implies that parents and teachers emphasize the consequences of a child’s behavior during a social interaction.
The nests of social insects are not only impressive because of their sheer complexity but also because they are built from individuals whose work is not centrally coordinated. A key question is how groups of insects coordinate their building actions. Here, we use a combination of experimental and modeling approaches to investigate nest construction in the ant Lasius niger.We quantify the construction dynamics and the 3D structures built by ants. Then, we characterize individual behaviors and the interactions of ants with the structures they build. We show that two main interactions are involved in the coordination of building actions: (i) a stigmergic-based interaction that controls the amplification of depositions at some locations and is attributable to a pheromone added by ants to the building material; and (ii) a template-based interaction in which ants use their body size as a cue to control the height at which they start to build a roof from existing pillars. We then develop a 3D stochastic model based on these individual behaviors to analyze the effect of pheromone presence and strength on construction dynamics. We show that the model can quantitatively reproduce key features of construction dynamics, including a large-scale pattern of regularly spaced pillars, the formation and merging of caps over the pillars, and the remodeling of built structures. Finally, our model suggests that the lifetime of the pheromone is a highly influential parameter that controls the growth and form of nest architecture.
Intuitively, how you feel about potential outcomes will determine your decisions. Indeed, an implicit assumption in one of the most influential theories in psychology, prospect theory, is that feelings govern choice. Surprisingly, however, very little is known about the rules by which feelings are transformed into decisions. Here, we specified a computational model that used feelings to predict choices. We found that this model predicted choice better than existing value-based models, showing a unique contribution of feelings to decisions, over and above value. Similar to the value function in prospect theory, our feeling function showed diminished sensitivity to outcomes as value increased. However, loss aversion in choice was explained by an asymmetry in how feelings about losses and gains were weighted when making a decision, not by an asymmetry in the feelings themselves. The results provide new insights into how feelings are utilized to reach a decision.
Natural selection has provided mothers with an early warning system, one that can alert them to danger before others are even aware of the risk. After all, humans have the ability to make conscious choices and design political systems that protect the least among us. Haven’t we improved on the harsh conditions faced by our distant monkey cousins? The answer to this couldn’t be more clear: humans are very different from macaques. We’re much worse. The anxiety caused by human inequality is unlike anything observed in the natural world. In order to emphasize this point, Robert Sapolsky put all kidding aside and was uncharacteristically grim when describing the effects of human poverty on the incidence of stress-related disease. “When humans invented poverty,” Sapolsky wrote, “they came up with a way of subjugating the low-ranking like nothing ever before seen in the primate world.” This is clearly documented in studies looking at human inequality and the rates of maternal infanticide. The World Health Organization Report on Violence and Health reported a strong association between global inequality and child abuse, with the largest incidence in communities with “high levels of unemployment and concentrated poverty.” According to these researchers, inequality is literally killing our kids.
What children do not come by naturally is empathy, the ability to understand another person’s perspective and want to help them. Empathy, as it turns out, is a skill—akin to math or science or writing—that must be taught, over and over and over. And it must be taught. Not only does empathy help turn children into more pleasing people; it also is a key to forging social connections that contribute to overall happiness and success.
Danish children learn, from a young age, that being connected socially—and empathetically—to other people is as important as securing a high grade on their exams. They carry this with them beyond the school walls, into adulthood and their communities. It’s like counteractive programming: Yes, survival requires selfishness; but living takes something much harder—generosity.
Read also: Teaching Kids Empathy: In Danish Schools, It’s … Well, It’s a Piece of Cake