Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful Brains

     While I was waiting at the orthodontist today, I noticed an issue of National Geographic with a title story called Beautiful Brains: The New Science of the Teenage Brain. Being me, I picked it up. The article mostly talks about teenagers taking risks-drinking, smoking, trying dangerous skateboarding stunts, etc. Several pictures of "typical" teenage life were included.

Interesting fashion choices...


What the heck?

     In my experience, typical teenage life looks more like this:

      Not intense at all.
      My favorite part of the article is a quote from B.J, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College: "We're so used to seeing adolescence as a problem. But the more we learn about what really makes this period unique, the more adolescence starts to seem like a highly functional, even adaptive period. It's exactly what you'd need to do the things you have to do then."

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Talk About School: For Teens

     "How was school today?"
     You've heard this phrase almost every day of your life since kindergarten. Chances are, your sick of it. What are you supposed to say beyond "Okay"? Here are a few tips I've picked up.
Three Things Not to Do:
1: Don't brush your parents off. They're asking because they care, and they can help you with problems if you let them  know. This also helps them understand your world better.
2: Don't blab on and on and on. And on. Sure, it's important to you that Abby is ignoring Becky because she's friends with Caitlin now even thought she hasn't talked to Madison after she broke up with Jason when she saw him talking to Hailey. But their eyes will start to glaze over.
3: Don't open with the negative. If you walk into the house and say,"My language arts teacher doesn't have a soul," or "I hate Cathy, I don't know why we were ever friends," their first impulse is to correct you. That sort of stuff is best told to friends or journals.
Three Things to Do:
1: Listen. Your parents want to have a conversation, not stand there and be fed information.
2: Be specific. Admit it, your school day was more than fine/okay/good.
3: It may help to plan ahead, so you're not racking your brain trying to come up with something interesting.

     Also, if you have something you really need to talk to a parent about, make sure they're not busy. Use a calm voice, don't shout or mess around with tones. Make eye contact and explain everything clearly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Talk About School: For Parents

You: "How was school today?"
Your teenager: "Okay."
Okay? you think. What kind of okay? Did something spectacular happen? Are you really depressed, but you don't want to talk about it? Why is this happening? Shouldn't they be able to talk to you about anything?
Here are a few tips from an "insider" (ooh, I like that. I feel sneaky and professional).
Three Things Not to Do:
1: Don't say "How was school today?" You've said that almost every day for years now, and chances are you always say it in the same tone of voice.
2: Don't ask about assignments or homework. How would you feel if your teenager came home and said, "Did you clean the kitchen today? How well did you clean it?"
3: Don't interrogate. "Who did you sit with at lunch? What did you talk about? Did you feel included? Do you think everybody else felt included? Which class do you have with that one kid again? And is Taylor in that class, too? Have you thought about sitting with Taylor instead? Who does Taylor sit with?"
It's not likely they'll remember that many details. And even if they do, their personal life is personal. You're a parent, not their personal assistant.
Three Things To Do:
1: Show interest. Some teenagers don't talk because they don't think you care about their classes or friend drama. "Was math class hard? How are things with Alex?"
2: Ask questions-don't make it a short, boring How was school/Good/That's good.
3: Remember that it's alright if they don't want to tell you everything. Some things, such as crushes, they feel more comfortable telling journals or friends.

     Also, talk about what's going on in your life. How was your day?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NYRA Stands for Controversial Causes

     Back in March, I did a post on the National Youth Rights Association. I was serously considering joining until I realized I didn't agree with most of their ideas. For example, NYRA supports lowering the drinking age.
     Drinking destroys families. And brain cells. And cars. Especially when the drivers do not have as much experience.
     They also support lowering the driving age. Personally, I think that would be awesome, but I've waited over fourteen years for my liscense. I'm sure I can wait one month, three weeks, three days, one hour, and fifty-seven minutes more. Not that I'm counting.
     We have enough drivers as it is. Lowering the driving age would put more on the road, which would increase pollution (which makes the environment unhappy), traffic accidents (which make most people unhappy) and traffic (which makes me very, very unhappy when I'm late for my piano lesson and the cars ahead will. not. move!).
    I do, however, agree with them lowering the voting age to sixteen. Sixteen-year-olds pay sales and sometimes income tax, lose teachers and programs to budget cuts, and breath air polluted by cars and factories. Sure, not all teenagers would make smart votes, but not all adults do, either. I'm sure many adults would agree, say, 57%, which coincidentally is the percentage that dissaproves of Obama at the moment.
     All in all, NYRA has done a powerful job of uniting young people to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how well thought out those beliefe might be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/11 Middle Schoolers Remembered

Bernard Curtis Brown II

Rodney Dickens

Asia Cottom

    Ten years and two days ago, an estimated 3,051 children and teenagers lost parents in the terrorist attacks. Three eleven-year-olds actually lost their lives. Asia Cottom, Bernard Curtis Brown, and Rodney Dickens of Washington, D.C. boarded Flight 77, the one that crashed into the pentagon. They were meant to go to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary for an educational field trip.
    Rodney grew up in a tough neighborhood, but he avoided trouble and worked hard. He loved reading, computer games, and watching wrestling matches on TV. He always made the honor roll and must have been exhilarated when he had the opportunity to go an this amazig sponsored field trip.
          Bernard played soccer and football, but his true love was basketball. He had been on teams since the age of seven. First thing on Saturday mornings, he would go out and shoot hoops. He always said he would play professionally someday. He was clever, the kind of kid who keeps teachers on their toes. That's why his teacher gave his name when asked who she thought deserved to go on a field trip. Bernard's father worked in the pentagon, but he was out golfing when the attacks occured.
         Asia loved purses, dancing, jump roping, science, math, and Tweety Bird. She wanted to be a peditrician when she grew up. She was interested in computers and wanted her classmates to learn as much about them as she did. Her teachers were challenged to help her expand her horizons. Asia was excited for her field trip and spent hours on the internet researching National Geographic. She was also enthusiastic about her faith. She studied the bible on her own and wrote notes on the more challenging passages. On the night after the crash, her mother told Asia's teacher, "Mrs. Jones, my baby got her wings today."
     Mrs. Jones responded,"We have to live right so we can get our wings when it is our time."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Children Around the World

     Photographer James Mollison captures the lives of children and teenagers around the world in his book, 'Where Children Sleep'. The book contains images of four- to seventeen-year-olds and pictures of their bedrooms. I won't add too much text, letting the photos speak for themselves.

Thais, 11, lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She wants to be a model when she grows up.  
 Image: Prena, 14, a domestic worker in Kathmandu, Nepal
Prena, 14, lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she works as a domestic worker. She makes the equivalent of $6.50 a month, goes to school three days a week, and dreams of being a doctor.

Lamine, 12, lives in Senegal. He spends many hours each day working on his school's farm, but he also has time to play sports with his friends. This is one of my favorite photos because you can see books in it.

Kaya, 4, lives in Tokyo, Japan. Her mother spends over $1,000 a month on her clothes and toys.

Irkena, 14, lives in a semi-nomadic tribe in Kenya.