There’s a sign outside the neighborhood elementary school that clarifies the school’s policy on taking off jackets at recess.  (It’s been balmy the last few days.)  Children in grades K-2 are to keep their jackets on, children in grades 3-5 may take them off.

I’ve watched many battles over jacket-wearing, and I don’t quite understand it.  When kids get cold, they usually (in the absence of actual thermostatic dysfunction, which the reading I’ve done suggests is extremely rare) act quickly.  And they’re not usually quiet about it.  Getting their needs met is not something children tend to take lightly.

So it’s a little strange that we decide to try to regulate their temperatures for them.  To me it seems like a recipe for not learning how to regulate various things for yourself in much the same way as scheduling meals and eating regardless of hunger can teach kids to eat when they don’t need to and shouldn’t.  We tell them they’ll be cold, if they don’t wear a jacket, though we have no idea how they’ll actually feel because their hormonal makeup is entirely different from ours. (As each of ours is from everyone else’s.)  They don’t get the chance to find out whether they’re hot or cold, how many layers they need, whether they need a jacket or not.

If it’s too warm to be wearing a coat, left to their own devices, kids know.  And similarly, if they’re too cold, they can put coats on.  We say these things, like “wear a coat or you’ll be cold,” with good intentions, but they don’t always hold up under inspection.  When kids resist, it’s worth a look to find out what the source of their resistance may be…

On pathfinding…

Last weekend’s episode of This American Life had me a little nervous for a few minutes, as NPR correspondent Adam Davidson set out to convince his cousin DJ that dropping out of college was the worst possible thing he could do in an economy like this one. It’s not so much that I’m in favor of dropping out of college, but I was worried about yet another argument for the necessity of a college education. I know plenty of folks who’ve thrived at least in part thanks to their college educations, but plenty more who in my opinion have thrived without one, or in spite of the one they did complete. There’s plenty of agreement out there in the world with the notion that college is the only access to success, wealth, happiness, and it’s not been my experience that that is the case. So susceptible am I to frustration on this particular topic, I was tempted to turn the episode off. I didn’t, and the spot didn’t disappoint. Davidson enlists the support of Georgetown professor of economics in his quest to talk his cousin back into college. Her response surprises him, and all three participants in the conversation come away with new perspective…

For Social Studies, You Can’t Beat City Hall

Well, a city council meeting, at least.  We had a hearing last night on a proposed ordinance that would allow local residents to keep laying hens in backyard coops. Fortunately for me and my ongoing education, I didn’t think to read the agenda for the council meeting ahead of time and as a result was present not only for the hearing but also for lots of other reading, commenting, moving, and voting.

I got a long overdue education on city politics.  I’d like to think that not everyone is as ignorant as I when it comes to the workings of government, but I fear I am not even close to alone.  I’m sure I “learned” it all at some point along the line, but I don’t remember a stitch and what I experienced at the meeting was nothing short of wonder. Furthermore, I couldn’t help thinking that such an experience might have a similar effect on several of the young people I know.  So the purpose of this little snippet is only to suggest, in case you haven’t thought of it already, that a city or town meeting might make a worthwhile excursion.  I’d recommend taking care to choose one with at least some content of interest to your family so it’s not just an educational exercise.