“Niceness can be a cover for conflict-avoidance, for going along to get along, and pretending to be just fine when we are unhappy, sad, or just plain angry,” observes Holly Elissa Bruno in the book she co-authored with Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Luis Hernandez, and Debra Sullivan, Learning from the Bumps in the Road.  “This phenomenon is what my colleague, Luis-Vincente Reyes, calls ‘the hegemony of niceness’: the command to be nice is so strong that anyone perceived of as not nice is in danger of ostracism…

“For us in ECE, Luis-Vincente Reyes’ words mean that the pressure to be nice is so dominant that if anyone speaks up, speaks out without prettifying her words, especially if she confronts someone, is cruising for a bruising.  ‘Make nice’ means ‘don’t rock the boat.’  Sure, some aspects of making nice are worthy, like being kind, accepting, forgiving, and upbeat.  Those other aspects, like inauthenticity and sugarcoating?  Not so much…

“By demanding niceness over directness, we end up with early childhood settings where conflicts are dealt with indirectly, usually through gossip or backbiting.  Gossip allows us to release our anger and surround ourselves with supporters, while never facing the person who offended us directly.  What are we modeling for our children?

“….What if we modeled for our children the ability to name, address, and work through our differences?  The desire to affirm and nurture often trumps the deeper need for the tough love of confronting misdeeds and injustice.  Niceness frees us from facing the tough things: confrontation is a prickly thing.  We all know that smiling and being nurturing, selfless, and supportive help us fit in.  We also know that confronting and showing anger are tickets to ostracism.  Who would choose the pain?” (From Exchange)

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images (22)Preschool Ditches Brand-Name Toys for Cardboard Boxes, Shocked to Discover That Kids Don’t Care.

Really?  Are we shocked?  Most parents know that children LOVE to work and play with boxes!  Why does this article matter?  What does it say about our current school environments?

If it’s true that fostering creativity in learning is not just a nice notion, but an imperative, then educators must find a way to integrate it into a system that has not made this intangible, un-testable attribute a priority. More and more, teachers are becoming alerted to the idea that nurturing creative minds is necessary to raise a generation of innovators.

Knowing that it’s important is one thing, but integrating creativity into curriculum is harder than it sounds.

“In order for something to be creative, it has to be task appropriate,” said Dr. James Kaufman, director of the Learning Research Institute at California State University San Bernardino. Along with Dr. Ronald Beghetto, associate professor of Education Studies at University of Oregon, Kaufman has been studying how to make creativity more approachable for educators.

The first step is to help both students and educators understand productive creativity. A wildly creative solution might not solve the problem. Conversely, it’s easy to come up with answers that aren’t unique. Creativity is the ability to produce work that is unique and unexpected as well as appropriate, useful, and adaptive.

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Nurturing the Next Van Gogh? Start With Small Steps | MindShift.

From Engaged Intellectualsimages (20)

My  Reggio-inspired wish is simple and could be granted tomorrow – even today – with no policy changes, no major cultural shifts, just basic humanity. While it was clear that many children attend Reggio schools from working-class and poor families (some even attending for free or a very small fee), no school was ever described by its socioeconomic and/or racial demographics. What would it mean to drop the “this school is 75%, 99%, 100% free- and reduced-lunch” or “majority minority” or “you fill in the blank” as an introduction to a school? What if we erased from our language practices the statistics we use as code for so many unspoken indecencies?

 

Reggio Wish #3 – Dignity for all « engaged intellectuals.

 

Creativity has become a hot topic in education. From President Barack Obama to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Newsweek magazine, business leaders, major media outlets, government officials, and education policy makers are increasingly advocating including student creativity in the curriculum.

But without a clear understanding of the nature of creativity itself, such well-meaning advocacy may do more harm than good; educators may experience calls for teaching creativity as just another guilt-inducing addition to an already-overwhelming set of curricular demands. Here are five fundamental insights that can guide and support educators as they endeavor to integrate student creativity into the everyday curriculum.

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Good Work Conference Reflections: Alexis Redding on “Embracing the Messy Path to Purpose” | The Good Project.

I love the idea of embracing the messy path to purpose.  As educators, we often meet with parents who believe that if their child gets into the “right” school, or knows all their alphabet letters, he/she will be ok in life… We know that’s not how it works.  Life is funny that way. Has your life turned out exactly as you or your parents planned?  Has it had bumps along the way?  I know for me, life has thrown many a curve ball and I have gone down swinging hard!  What are your thoughts?

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How to Stimulate Curiosity | MindShift.  From a paper written in 1994- but still very relevant

Curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement—it’s what drives us to keep learning, keep trying, keep pushing forward. But how does one generate curiosity, in oneself or others? George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, proposed an answer in a classic 1994 paper, “The Psychology of Curiosity.”

Curiosity arises, Loewenstein wrote, “when attention becomes focused on a gap in one’s knowledge. Such information gaps produce the feeling of deprivation labeled curiosity. The curious individual is motivated to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate the feeling of deprivation.” Loewenstein’s theory helps explain why curiosity is such a potent motivator: it’s not only a mental state but also an emotion, a powerful feeling that impels us forward until we find the information that will fill in the gap in our knowledge.

Here, three practical ways to use information gaps to stimulate curiosity:

  1. 1.   Start with the question. Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham notes that teachers—along with parents, managers, and leaders of all kinds—are often “so eager to get to the answer that we do not devote sufficient time to developing the question,” Willingham writes in his book Why Don’t Students Like School? Yet it’s the question that stimulates curiosity; being told an answer quells curiosity before it can even get going. Instead of starting with the answer, begin by posing for yourself and others a genuinely interesting question—one that opens an information gap.
  2. 2.   Prime the pump. In his 1994 paper, George Loewenstein noted that curiosity requires some initial knowledge. We’re not curious about something we know absolutely nothing about. But as soon as we know even a little bit, our curiosity is piqued and we want to learnmore. In fact, research shows that curiosity increases with knowledge: the more we know, the more we want to know. To get this process started, Loewenstein suggests, “prime the pump” with some intriguing but incomplete information.
  3. 3.   Bring in communication. Language teachers have long put a similar idea to use in exercises that open an information gap and then require learners to communicate with each other in order to fill it. For example, one student might be given a series of pictures illustrating the beginning of the story, while the student’s partner is given a series of pictures showing how that same story ends. Only by speaking with each other (in the foreign language they are learning, of course) can the students fill in each others’ information gaps.