Why has it taken this long for somebody to do something like this?

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I was definitely intrigued by Paul Tough's article "Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?" The use of dramatic play with preschoolers as a way of promoting self-control seems to me to be a really solid idea. At one point the article mentioned experiments that were done to gauge what good could potentially come of role-playing for little kids, stating; "In one experiment, 4-year-old children were first asked to stand still for as long as they could. They typically did not make it past a minute. But when the kids played a make-believe game in which they were guards at a factory, they were able to stand at attention for more than four minutes. In another experiment, prekindergarten-age children were asked to memorize a list of unrelated words. Then they played "grocery store" and were asked to memorize a similar list of words -- this time, though, as a shopping list. In the play situation, on average, the children were able to remember twice as many words." I found this to be really interesting, and definitely telling about the possible benefits of programs like Tools of the Mind, where young kids are immersed in this kind of play every day at school.
Another part of the article that I found really interesting was when it pointed out some flaws in the traditional method of using behaviorism to teach kids self-control, when it states, "The message to kids was that terrible things would happen if they didn't control their impulses, and the role of adults, whether parents or preschool teachers, was to train children by praising them for their positive self-control ("Look at how well Cindy is sitting!") and criticizing them for their lapses... But Bodrova and Leong say that those "external reinforcement systems" create "other-directed regulation" -- good behavior done not from some internal sense of control but for the approval of others, to avoid punishment and win praise and treats. And that, they say, is a kind of regulation that is not particularly valuable or lasting. Children learn only how to be obedient, how to follow orders, not how to understand and regulate their own impulses." I completely agree with this point. I have always thought that type of teaching was flawed, because if you teach a kid that they shouldn't do this or that because they'll get in trouble if they do it, then if they figure out a way to do it without getting caught or are not afraid to face the consequences, there's nothing to stop them. As opposed to instilling a sense of responsibility for controlling their own actions just for themselves.
All-in-all, I thought the article was pretty brilliant, and hope that the methods described in it prove fruitful in the years to come.

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This page contains a single entry by loes0065 published on October 17, 2011 3:48 PM.

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