Drawbacks to science-based childrearing?

  1. I am reading a book called Punished By Rewards by Kohn and even those positive reinforcements can be harmful and inhibit creativity.

  2. Parenting classes tend to be behaviorist. And for good reason - they teach specific skills, not philosophy. Parents come to parenting classes looking for help, often for very specific problems. Kohn frustrates people looking for concrete answers, because he doesn’t really offer any. It’s an approach, not a technique. Mostly just a long list of what not to do. I like to sum up Kohn by channeling and paraphrasing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: When you have eliminated everything that doesn’t work, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer.

  3. You say the teachers don't have genuine relationships with the students. They aren't doing it right. Positive discipline (if that's what you are referring to) is all about the relationship. How can you be a good listener if you don't have a relationship (or how can you be a good listener and not develop a relationship)? You can't.

  4. So is the rigid application of science as I see happening in public schools and mental health clinics and kid-facing programming all over the place the actual problem here? Not the science itself, but how it's being disseminated and implemented? Where do the tendencies toward rigidity come from?

  5. No argument there. Relationships are central to all human interactions and absolutely critical for learning and development, regardless of the age of the person.

  6. Honestly I would take the sentiment that child are "worse" now with a grain of salt. For many years people have been forcing children to be obedient, silent and act in a people pleasing way. Now, people are seeing how that shakes out in adulthood- adults who live in fear of mistakes, don't feel like they can speak out about wrong things and do everything for extrinsic value. Parents are refusing to outright harm their children with discipline and instead foster children's creativity, energy and being sensitive to their emotional and developmental state. Those don't play out so well in a formal school setting often and I think it's to the detriment of both the student and the educators for not being more agile in the way they educate.

  7. I don't know, I feel like students who are actively assaulting others (which is common in schools) is a sign that whatever we're doing isn't working. Teachers aren't making these observations up. And many of us see that it's worse year over year... even before the pandemic

  8. I’m having a hard time understanding what you mean by “science based childrearing” - and I’m a scientist. I’m personally a devotee of Alfie Kohn, whose philosophy is thoroughly grounded in science - but then again so are many other practices that may or may not be compatible with Kohn. There are many right ways to raise a child. And “science” is broad.

  9. As a teacher I am glad we no longer write kids off for disabilities but I really think we have gone too far in overcorrecting. So many kids are growing up with the expectation that people will continue to accomodate their needs and that isn't true in the real world. The data says to accomodate and I don't disagree with 504 plans or IEPs but so many kids are losing the ability to figure things out for themselves. That has to be contributing to anxiety.

  10. I was using science-based childrearing to refer to the prevailing trends and themes in research around how to support children's growth and development both at home and in school settings. Certainly, there are different scientific perspectives and approaches, all with evidence to back them up. Some, however, are more amenable to be "data-fied" than others and it's these ones that I'm curious about with respect to children's well-being and eventual outcomes. As I've thought more about it and done some more processing, I think the emphasis on data is actually more of what I was thinking.

  11. Something else to consider, which is imo a much more radical shift, is that we now raise children in a much more isolated way.

  12. I think that's absolutely huge, for sure! One of my former colleagues had an interesting theory about the current generation of teachers and professionals being the first who were really raised en masse in a context of households where all available adults were working and who often attended child care programs from an early age. So this structure and emphasis on conforming to an external structure was almost baked in at an early age.

  13. I think about this constantly now that I have two very little kids. We're rural and don't have as many friends as I'd like, and the pandemic has been crippling. This just isn't how we evolved to live, and I don't know how to get closer to getting things right for my daughters.

  14. This. I had piles of cousins as a kid, and my child is an only who only has three cousins, all of whom are at least a three hour train journey away. We have friends, but it's way more transient and happenstance than the aunts, uncles, grandparents and "aunts" and "uncles" I had growing up.

  15. I don't think the issue is parenting rather the over structured US school system. Kids in the vast majority of schools are giving far less free play time then they have in the past as schools are focused on passing tests rather then letting kids develop at their own pace. The issue also isn't science based as the science favors more child lead approaches especially with young children. I am the mother of a two year old and follow positive parenting mostly focused on the strategy outlined by Joanna Faber and Julie King who are following in the foot steps of Joanna's mother Adele Faber who got her ideas from Haim G. Ginott. Their approach is based in science but it is not new as Faber's book How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk came out in 1980. I do think some parents are over thinking their parenting rather then listening to their child and working with them rather than trying to control another human being. I also think that pediatricians are trying to pass cultural norms off as science and shaming parents who don't fall into the norms but this is not new. If you are looking for an explanation for the school issues I would check out The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein it gives a good history of teachers in the US.

  16. Thanks for the Teacher Wars recommendation. I'll check it out, for sure! The US public school system is definitely a factor in my thinking.

  17. I think there’s often a bit of a disconnect between research and practice. My background is in a different field (psychology- happiness research), but I’ve noticed some “issues” when it comes to applying research findings. First, sometimes people try to apply research too early - before there’s a strong body of replicated research to support it. People get excited about ideas, but they may not be correct (Marty Seligman’s contract with the US Army is an example of this in happiness research). Second, Sometimes people who don’t fully understand the research try to implement it, and they end up missing key components (like a warm bond between teacher and student) or they are too rigid about the “rules,” as if the study perfectly generalizes to all situations. Maybe an administrator says a practice has to be implemented exactly as it was in some study, but perhaps the student body at that school is fundamentally different from the study sample, so the teachers would be better off introducing some modifications to fit their students. I think some of these issues stem from a misunderstanding of how science works, and the solution is not to move away from evidence-based strategies, but to better educate people about how…fluid science is. To view research findings as less “immutable facts” and more “ideas currently supported by evidence in some cases.”

  18. What you are witnessing is Neoliberalism in early education. The aim of these “science based practices” is not the well-being of the children but maximising their capitalist value. It is dehumanising.

  19. Oh yes. Reading OP’s post immediately got me thinking about NCLB and how it changed education and the classroom. I think OP hit on the actual problem in that classroom, and it’s the objectives and inflexibility, both of which are thanks to Bush Jr. and his neoliberal school plan.

  20. Your post reminded me "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire which argues how traditional pedagogy uses a banking model of education (remember facts = good grades = knowledge) rather than allowing children to become co-creators of knowledge. Perhaps this is more for older kids, but i can see how this starts at the early age of kindergarten.

  21. Thanks for this. I've been playing with this idea a bit, too. And not just in early education, but also in parenting and in older educational grades, too.

  22. Thank you for your perspective. I completely agree with you that science needs to be applied by people who know what they're doing. And evidence-based practices include a component of adjustment based on what is known about the person/family/community

  23. I think a major problem with implementing a science-based approach to parenting to the letter is that scientific results are presented in means and averages and every child is an individual human being. Their response to the technically "correct" parenting regime is not based on science. They might fit in with a studys population of children that have a positive response to said parenting strategy or they might be a complete outlier.

  24. Very, very good point about means and averages and something that is almost always lost in the translation and dissemination of results. I'm going to think some more about that.

  25. Im not American and whenever I chat with my American friends who have kids (ages 2-9) they are doing lots of stuff that to me as a european seems absolutely batshit crazy. For example

  26. I think my thoughts on this started coming together after I did a panel discussion with a researcher from Japan who studied early childhood education in the Nordic countries.

  27. I hear similar sentiments echoed in schools frequently. Having worked directly with students there is almost always a clear reason behind these kids who are "worse". They've been through extensive trauma. They often have, or had in many cases, guardians who don't know how, don't try, or don't have the resources (specifically time and their own emotional regulation) to provide a responsive environment at home. What used to happen (to a much more complete extent than today) to these kids is they would be placed in a self-contained classroom, they would be expelled, or they would be abused until they behaved enough. They weren't better, they just weren't in the classroom. They weren't getting an education. With the increase in educational oversight, particularly with special education qualification, we're seeing a shift in what constitutes typical behavior in the classroom, especially in early grades where kids may need more support but don't have the history yet to prove it. There are of course other issues at play like increased testing and decreased free time, but if you look at the difference between a functioning classroom and one that's struggling there are almost always two things in common. One of these "problem " children or a burnt out teacher.

  28. To me it sounds like the teacher does not actually have their heart in these measures - perhaps they feel they need to do them, but don't really feel lit works for their style, as it sounds like they are not ACTUALLY using them?

  29. I'm not so sure what you described is necessarily science based in the way it's being applied in the school. Particularly if it's too rigid. Kids need some disorganized open ended play to help develop divergent thinking.

  30. I could be wrong, but it sounds to me like the issue is not necessarily the emphasis on science and data, but rather that those "science and data" recommendations are being applied in a check-box fashion rather than being implemented thoughtfully.

  31. 20 minutes of recess per day, if they don't have to spend some of that time sitting down because they (a class of kindergartners, mind you) were too noisy at lunch. They're averaging about 15 minutes over the last couple of weeks, which is a whole other issue.

  32. The problem in education is not evidenced based practices. It is that classrooms are overcrowded and kids are impoverished and traumatized. Having a more equitable society with safety nets like health care, and class sizes slashed in half, would change the world and take care of a vast majority of problems seen in classrooms.

  33. My impression of what you describe of the teacher's classroom is that they're doing everything they're supposed to to create an environment where those relationships can be built. There's just..... no way to connect with two dozen or more children as autonomous individuals without first establishing all of these routines and procedures.

  34. Lot's of interesting comments here. I'm an Alfie Kohn fan and I don't agree with behavior modification methods (i.e. reward/punishment methods to gain compliance).

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