Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Neil Gaiman tells us why books matter: When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you…

Standardized Testing

An Opt Out Letter That Speaks to All Parents

One household notifies the authorities that their son will no longer be participating in state-mandated high-stakes testing, citing the impact it has on the child. Here is an excerpt from the letter, as published by Education Roundtable. Students – who mature at vastly different paces – should not ever be measured by a mass-produced blunt instrument. I will no longer allow our son to be a part of this mythological…


How Daydreams and Videogames Can Make Us Confident In Real Life (Yes)

Is there a daydreamer in your life? There are a couple in mine. (And sometimes, it’s me.) Here’s a look at the benefits of “relaxed attention.” Daydreaming has problem-solving power. Sometimes it helps to stop focusing so intently on an issue, and aim for what IDEO founder David Kelley’s mentor Bob McKim used to call “relaxed attention.” In that mental state, the problem or challenge occupies space in your brain,…


I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov

Reading Chekhov for a few minutes makes you better at decoding what other people are feeling. But spending the same amount of time with a potboiler by Danielle Steel does not have the same effect, scientists reported Thursday. [...] Albert Wendland, director of a master’s program in writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University, said, “Frankly, I agree with the study.” Dr. Wendland said that “reading sensitive and lengthy explorations…

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Intimations of Mortality

Plato, Montaigne, Pascal—those were the major figures in the philosophical pantheon of my student days. But concurrently, in my literature classes, I came to be moved by poems such as John Donne’s defiant sonnet “Death Be Not Proud,” which concludes on the paradoxically triumphant note that, for the dead, death shall be no more, that death shall die. I was later even more moved—no doubt because of the association with…


Opinion: Don’t link video games with mass shootings

Contrary to Dr. Bushman’s suggestion, violent video games are not a commonality among mass homicide perpetrators. The impression that a link exists is a classic illusory correlation in which society notes the cases that fit and ignores those that don’t. When a shooter is a young male, the news media make a fuss over violent video games, typically forgetting to inform the public that almost all young males play violent…


Self-Regulation: American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids

For a while, we were part of a homeschool co-op, where the organizer — a parent to two darling girls who happily sat through lessons — would discipline fidgety boys like my Peter by withholding their recess breaks. During a group activity, I overheard another parent say “Peter, don’t work ahead.” We didn’t sign up for that co-op the next year. “We’ve been around for a couple hundred thousand years,…


Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you

I am intrigued by the possibility that Miley Cyrus’s alleged “performance” at VMA was intended as a criticism of the pro-date-rape sentiment of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” but I suspect we’re just witnessing the latest celebrity breakdown. Here’s a mommyblogger who calls it as she sees it. Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your…


Rant against the death industry

Death is universal, so one day I’ll face these decisions. I just asked my tween to put down her Legos and my teen to put down his algebra, so I could tell them that when I’m dead, I don’t want them to pay for a fancy coffin, or cushions, or an open casket. I told them to put a picture of me on a stand, and to ask people at…