This Monday, “Waiting for Superman” came out in my local, independent theater and I jumped at the chance to see it. If you have not heard about it, the movie traces the failings of the public education from the perspective of a number of families in the system. To be honest, I went into the movie knowing that some things had been left out of the movie (although I chose to find out what after seeing the movie) and I was somewhat bothered that the movie appeared to only cover education from the view of inner city families while appearing to address public education as a whole.
After seeing the movie, however, I was impressed with its ability to move me. While no ideas are provided in the movie on how to make a difference (in fact, it leaves you a little hopeless with respect to public education), I felt my mind reeling on what I could do personally to make a difference. I keep thinking about how we could try to connect inner city children near our community with resources, since (which the movie leaves out) it is often resources that are missing for the inner city children that other, more affluent communities do have. Even connecting children with a mentor, much like the Big Brother/Big Sister program, might help some? Anyway, the movie is worth seeing in that sense – it makes you want to do something (which I think is of course is its intention!). And of course, you can make a huge difference in your own school system.
The movie has had me thinking about this topic every day – as there is so much to consider. Today I read this article about it – which bring up even more topics for discussion:
So I think I am going to use my blog for a while to discuss the issues raised by this movie and get my ideas on paper.
Have any of you seen the movie and what did you think of it?
Apparently the human brain is naturally hard-wired to remember negative experiences. Even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the implicit negative memory bank grows faster. We retain negative memories and tend to forget the good ones.
So given that we know that, how can we use that to the benefit of parenting? You can rig your child’s brain for happy memories! Sounds a little creepy, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences. Instead, the key is to fostering as many positive experiences as possible and then really let them soak in. Christine Carter, a psychologist who writes a blog on at the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley, suggests the following:
1. Teach kids to see all the good around them. Share with them an appreciation for a beautiful day, time spent together, good food, the kindness of others. The idea is turn positive facts that are present all around us into an experience for the child.
2. Draw out and really savor the experience. The idea here is to not only encourage your child to hold the positive idea in mind, but also to remember the emotions. That practice will strengthen the positive associations made with the memory.
3. Let it all sink in. Let your child imagine this feeling sinking into their mind, using methaphors such as the way water sinks into a sponge.
Focusing on good memories in this way can actually overwrite negative ones. Dr. Carter’s uses her personal example of not remembering the pain of being bullied because all the positive attention she received from friends and family created so many positive memories for her that they outweighed the negative.
Do you have an example to support this theory from your childhood?
Given the materialism associated with the holidays, I am always kind of struggling during this time as how to give more meaning to the season in fun but not expensive ways. So I thought I would share one in case anyone else is in the same boat.
A couple of years ago I read about the tradition of the good deed paper chain in The Book of Family Traditions. The book suggests hanging a paper chain up with links for each member of the family. Every morning in December each family member breaks a link and does something nice for the person whose name is on the back of the link. If someone gets their own name, they pass it on to another family member.
We modified the idea a bit. We build a paper chain as well, but we write random acts of kindness committed by our members of our family on it as they occur in the month of December. So some days there might be many links made and some days there might be none. It is very fun to watch it grow! We leave it by the advent calendar so Santa can see it. It took a few days to get it going but it has definitely instilled the Christmas Spirit in our house this year!