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The Camera Eye

Via Anya Kamenetz at Fast Company, a story that is impressive, inspiring and just a bit insane:

Cognitive scientist Deb Roy blew the curve for Flip cam-packing proud pops. Since he and his wife brought their son home from the hospital, Roy has captured his every movement and word with a series of fisheye-lens cameras installed in every room. The purpose was to understand how we learn language.

In this one-of-a-kind study, Roy accumulated invaluable data that promise to greatly improve our understanding of language acquisition. By learning how a “normal” child learns how to speak, we can help children who struggle with language due to autism, apraxia, or auditory processing disorders. This is an amazing gift to children, parents, and speech therapists everywhere.

And he has the most comprehensive home-movie collection ever.

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The Challenge of Sitting Still

Pediatric OT Loren Shlaes on the difficulty some kids have with Circle Time (re-posted by permission on PediaStaff.com):

Circle time is often one of the most difficult school related activities for the children I treat. Over the years I have seen so many children fail to meet the grownups’ expectations when they are required to sit quietly and attend while on the floor. They can’t pay attention, they move around, they speak out of turn, they lie down, they tune out, they lash out.

Why are they acting out during such a seemingly innocuous time of day?

Circle time often means sitting very close to the person next to you, with no furniture to help guard and define the boundaries of your personal space. Children who are tactile defensive generally don’t like to sit in close proximity to others, especially to other children, who are less predictable, and therefore potentially more threatening, than adults.

I know what it’s like to know that something isn’t right with your child, but not to know what to do about it—you feel helpless. Thanks to specialists like Ms. Shlaes, more and more parents are learning why their kids are different and what to do to help them.

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Now with Zombies™

Roger Ma on Why Tiger Mothers are Superior (During a Zombie Outbreak) from Wired.com (via THE FATHER LIFE):

I am a zombie fighter. I am also the product of a Tiger mother. While these two facts may seem incongruous to most people, I can assertively say that not only are they related, they have a direct causal relationship. It is no coincidence that my book, The Zombie Combat Manual, begins with a dedication to my mother “for her strength and discipline.” Having experienced many of the parenting techniques Chua details, I can explain exactly how this type of regimen not only prepares children for the world of higher education, but also a world infested with living dead.In this article, I’ll cover the most prominent guidelines of Tiger mother parenting, and how they relate to becoming an effective zombie combatant.

You know Seth-Grahame Smith of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fame (all 15 minutes worth) is ticked he didn’t think of this first. If only he’d trademarked arbitrary zombie tie-ins when he had the chance.

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Macho Dad

The Good Men Project asks two parents “Are stay-at-home dads macho?

Tom Matlack replies:

Not only are stay-at-home dads macho, but all dads who show up for their kids are macho. You can’t be a dad and wall yourself off from your child. Perhaps that was the way in prior generations, but one of the greatest changes for men today is the opportunity we have to engage and learn about ourselves through our relationship with our kids.

Laura Munson agrees:

I live in a town where most of the fathers I know are able to show up at their kids’ sporting events and play performances and music recitals, and even school parties because of the close proximity to their workplace—if they have a work place. Here, many of the men are out of work, and their wives are the breadwinners. I also live in a town that is full of Montana “macho” men who strut their stuff all over the ski hill, and in the mountains, hunting, fishing, climbing—”getting after it,” as they say. I asked my son to define this “it.” He said, “It is doing what you love.” In this sense, being with your kids as much as possible is just that.

Not much of a debate on this issue, and I’m glad. To a stay-at-home dad such as myself, the suggestion that I am somehow less of a man for being a good father is ridiculous.

It’s being a good father—being there for my daughter whenever and however she needs me— that makes me a real man.

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A Better (or Worse) Eraser.

Brian Hayes of The American Scientist reviews A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Barron. This passage, in particular, struck me:

Baron points out that just about every other new writing instrument has also been seen as a threat to literacy and a corrupter of youth. The eraser had a particularly bad reputation, under the thesis that “if the technology makes error correction easy, students will make more errors.”

Each generation inherits new technology that is sure to destroy their intellectual and moral foundation—whether erasers or computers, televisions or video games, email or texting. Yet somehow each generation survives long enough to worry about the corruption of next one.

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Resolutions Simplified

I was all set with a long list of resolutions for 2011. Then I read a column by Erin Sullivan in Literary Mama (originally published Jan. 1, 2007) . She began her resolutions with three words:

Clarify. Unknot. Simplify.

Following her advice, I have simplified my own list. Here it is:

  1. Write every day.
  2. Pray every day.
  3. Play with my daughter every day.
  4. Tell my wife I love her every day.

In other words: focus on the important stuff and leave the rest up to God.

Have a Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2011.