Tag Archives: kids

Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers – Newsweek and The Daily Beast

18 Dec

I find myself thinking a lot about the New Guinea people with whom I have been working for the last 49 years, and about the comments of Westerners who have lived for years in hunter-gatherer societies and watched children grow up there. Other Westerners and I are struck by the emotional security, self-­confidence, curiosity, and autonomy of members of small-scale societies, not only as adults but already as children. We see that people in small-scale societies spend far more time talking to each other than we do, and they spend no time at all on passive entertainment supplied by outsiders, such as television, videogames, and books. We are struck by the precocious development of social skills in their children. These are qualities that most of us admire, and would like to see in our own children, but we discourage development of those qualities by ranking and grading our children and constantly ­telling them what to do. The adolescent identity crises that plague American teenagers aren’t an issue for hunter-gatherer children. The Westerners who have lived with hunter-gatherers and other small-scale societies speculate that these admirable qualities develop because of the way in which their children are brought up: namely, with constant security and stimulation, as a result of the long nursing period, sleeping near parents for ­several years, far more social models available to children through ­allo-parenting, far more social stimulation through constant physical contact and proximity of caretakers, instant caretaker responses to a child’s crying, and the minimal amount of physical punishment.

via Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers – Newsweek and The Daily Beast.


The Children Will Lead: Ruslan on the Sousaphone

24 Dec

by Peter & Charlie

When you see this short clip, you may say to yourself “Cute kid, but what’s the big deal?”

Well, the big deal isn’t the clip per se, but the story of how an 8 year old gained the easy confidence to pick up a gigantic horn and march around the back yard playing a song. This is symbolic of a very, very, big deal which is that every child has it in him or her to do the same.

It is widely recognized that music education — think performing, playing, and experimenting more than “Music Appreciation” — gives many skills to students, but it also improves thinking ability, which transfers over to all the other core studies such as math and science. Students with experience in music have higher SAT scores and lower instances of substance abuse. To put it another way, “The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling — training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.” Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. OK, enough – I could write volumes about this, and nobody is disputing the truth of it anyways. The puzzling thing is how music, and the arts in general, are underfunded and undervalued in our schools. We know music education will help students do better on math tests, but we cut the music program so there will be more time to study for the math tests, and everybody in education understands that this ultimately results in lower math scores. Kind of like eliminating soap, so everybody will have more time to wash their hands.

OK, back to the video. Ruslan isn’t worried about wrong notes, proper technique, marching “in time,” or his reputation as a performer. In other words, nothing has discouraged him from playing. Encouragement, enjoyment and participation are what he knows. Here’s how Charlie Keil, a key figure in this encouragment, describes it:

Put “Ruslan Sousaphone” in the google slot and click on the vid of the kid with the ‘phone beyond trombone in his big green backyard. Ruslan announces “This is how you play the — prompt from his older brother, ‘sousaphone’ — Sousaphone!”

He doesn’t know the name of the instrument for sure; he’s never played one before, unless he puffed on it a few times just before somebody said “let’s do a video of this,” but he is very confident that he can show you how it is played. Then he says “Let’s do ‘Peace is the Way’!” and off he goes with a horn generously barter’d to me from ethnomusicologist Steve Feld, once evaluated by trombone legend Ray Anderson, currently on loan to Ruslan’s father. May the gift circulate! Continue reading