Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anti-Discrimination Policies To Create Safe Environments

In 2008 policies were established in New York to allow transgender kids in juvenile jail to be allowed to dress and call themselves whatever they want. This may not seem like an event of major significance, but I believe that it may actually be a big step in reducing bullying and violence against a vulnerable group in institutionalized settings. It is a gesture that shows social respect to a group that is open to ridicule. Other states are following suit. I hope that these policies are established nationwide. I believe them to be fairly simple to implement since they're off the emotional political radar, but of benefit to many silent victims of bullying behavior.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Social Identity Theory and Prejudice

People are amazing creatures. I think that we should teach our youth about "minimal group studies". These are experiments in which youth are divided randomly into two groups.
Youth members of the groups then "assign points" to anonymous members of both their "own group" and the "other group". Even if there is NO BASIS for being a member of "the group" (as selection is random and not based upon characteristics or qualities), youth consistently award more points to the members of their own group. The conclusion of the studies is that people show "in group" favoritism. If we can see how much of "what we feel to be right" simply feels right because we're "creatures of habit and familiarity", then we have more freedom to set aside our primitive emotional responses in order to use reason and logic when interacting with our ever expanding world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Nature/Nuture Debate and a Big So What?

Why do we insist upon limiting our study of human beings to information gleaned from genetics and environment? If we take a reductionist approach, we are already limiting the scope in which we search. How will we ever learn anything new when we imprison the enquiry into a finite field! How would Aristotle think through the contemporary debates of our day? What constitutes the nature of being human? What is the essence, and what are accidentals? When we say "he's a naturally gifted pianist", do we mean that he has the "piano playing gene", or that his parents forced him to play the piano until he was proficient? We mean something else, don't we?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Parental Play Partners

Child development professionals claim that parental play partners can help children build confidence and self esteem during play with them. They claim that one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is dominating the play. They say that using "information talk" is a great way to help a child put into words what he or she is feeling or thinking.
My questions are about what happens to a child's self talk when the parents dominate the play by using "information talk" that is a projection of the parents onto the child IE., "Honey, let me help you put into words what I AM thinking and feeling, and I want you to mistake these thoughts and feelings for your own. Since I am unable to be empathetic, I have no clue as to your thoughts and feelings. In order for you to maintain your symbiotic bond with me, you need to be a reflection of ME, not discover who you are. If you are not a mini-version of me, I will be forced to reject you.

How They Raised Me Straight

When I was three years old, I asked Santa Claus for a gun and a fire engine. I got up early on Christmas morning and rushed into the living room fully expecting to see that Santa made my wishes come true. I was shocked when I saw a Shirley Temple doll waiting in a baby chair by the fireplace for me. When I asked my mother what happened, she said, "Santa Claus knew that you didn't REALLY want a gun and a fire engine." That was just the beginning of everyone but me knowing what I "REALLY" wanted to wear, what games I "REALLY" wanted to play, which friends I "REALLY" wanted to ask to come for an overnight , which books I "REALLY" wanted to read and, what I "REALLY" wanted to be when I grew up. Why did everyone but me know who I was during my formative years?