Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ten Essential Qualities for a Happy, Healthy Life

The Chicago Tribune ran a blurb on a new book, Great Kids: Helping Your Baby and Child Develop the Ten Essential Qualities for a Happy, Healthy Life.

I haven't read the book yet, but check out this list of "Ten Essential Qualities":

1. Engagement (relating to others)
2. Empathy
3. Curiosity
4. Communication
5. Emotional Range
6. Genuine Self-Esteem
7. Internal Discipline
8. Creativity and Vision
9. Logical Thinking
10. Moral Integrity

Wouldn't the world be a better place if every person had these ten qualities? I can use this list to focus on what traits I am encouraging and rewarding in my middle school students.

I'm glad he wrote the book, but wouldn't it be great if we didn't need it? It seems childrearing used to be intuitive, but now requires explicit instructions to avoid raising a menace to society.

Two of the most powerful ideas I ran across in this article were:
1. Learning to empathize begins in infancy. Suggest helping him/her tunes into others' feelings by making your feelings clear, in facial expression and voice.
2. Your child will learn ethics from how you treat him/her, not by what you say.

Ain't THAT the truth?!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Finally Joined YouTube

OK, I did it. I joined YouTube. You'd think as a pseudo-geek, I would have jumped on this earlier, but I finally have my own channel, inspired by my kid blog.

YouTube is interesting. Yes, if you are not careful, you will find yourself surfing videos of laughing babies, dancers in banana suits, and the latest variation of Charlie the Unicorn. However, as I have said before, I have used it extensively for science and media literacy lessons in grades 1 through 8.

So I wonder why, when the first time a student asked me if he could use YouTube as a source for a class project, my gut reaction was, "no." When I thought about it for a minute, I changed my mind. YouTube is almost a philosophical extension of Wikipedia. And I decided to treat it as such. Sure, the student can use it as a source. But, like any article on Wikipedia, they must double-check their facts on another reputable source. However, how valuable was it for them to watch and interview with Barack Obama, or to hear a theremin played? Certainly more so than merely text and still images could provide.

One concern is that students may quickly fall off task, or be subjected to inappropriate language in the comments section. This just seems like a teachable moment (at least at the middle school level) regarding media literacy and responsible internet use.

Sadly enough, my old district banned both YouTube and Wikipedia in its schools. I wonder if this is a positive move or a disservice to the students. Social networking sites and wikis are not going away... shouldn't we embrace the opportunity to teach the kids to use these tools responsibly instead of taking them away?

Anyway, back to YouTube, someone should have warned me. Once I signed up, I got this message in the second box below. Wow. Harsh. :)