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Annual Editions: Human Development, 11/12
Part A. Genetic Influences
1. Your DNA, Decoded, Mark Anderson, Delta Skymagazine, August 2010
This article explains the 6 billion genes (half from father, half from mother), made up of base pairs (A, C, G and T), which comprise each unique human’s instruc-tion manual. One’s health, emotions, and personality are influenced by one’s genome prenatally. Environmental factors after birth also affect human functioning.
2. Seeking Genetic Fate, Patrick Barry, Science News, July 4, 2009
The cost of having small variations in your genes analyzed (over 99% of all human genes are identical), has dropped precipitously. Several genomic technology companies now offer to forecast your personal disease risks. Most health hazards also involve diet, exercise, and environmental factors. The ethics of predicting complex maladies from saliva is question-able.
Part B. Prenatal Influences
3. What’s Killing the Babies of Kettleman City?, Jacques Leslie, Mother Jones, July/August 2010
The women of Kettleman City, CA are exposed to multiple toxic wastes during their pregnancies. Their infants have abnormally high rates of birth defects. Scientists explain this as due to cumulative impacts. State officials have stopped the expansion of a nearby hazardous waste dump. Can technology find an ethical way to dispose of contaminated waste in the future?
4. Truth and Consequences at Pregnancy High, Alex Morris, New York Magazine, May 18, 2009
The rate of unmarried teen parenting in the United States is ris-ing, after a decade of decline. Approximately 60% of adolescent moms drop out of school and 64% live in a culture of poverty. Most have no health care, eat junk food, and live dangerously during pregnancy. Response to an online survey showed that 20% of girls in the United States want to become teen moms. This article describes the negative outcomes for these women.
Part A. Infancy
5. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: New Recommendations, Louise Parks, Texas Child Care, Winter 2008
SIDS is the #1 reason for infant deaths in the United States. Its cause is unexplained. Genetic factors, brain abnormalities, and pregnancy shortcomings (smoking, drinking) are suspected determinants. This article recommends that parents use back sleeping, pacifiers, firm bedding, tummy time when awake, and a smoke-free, relatively cool indoor environment.
6. Vaccination Nation, Chris Mooney, Discover, June 2009
Parents have been scared by activists claiming (falsely) that vac-cines cause infant autism. Science proves otherwise; this article cites multiple stud-ies. The ethics of skeptics are dubious. Withholding vaccines can cause epidemics of largely vanquished diseases. Other environmental factors which trigger genetic dis-eases must be explored, and motivation to vaccinate must in-crease.
Part B. Early Childhood
7. How to Help Your Toddler Begin Developing Empathy, Rebecca Pariakian and Claire Lerner, Zero to Three, July 2009
Personality is socialized as well as inherited. Teaching empathy in parenting practices during early child-hood helps toddlers understand emotions and develop self-esteem. This article explains how to foster this complex skill.
8. 5 Skills Kids Need before They Read, Peg Tyre, Instructor, August 2009
No Child Left Behind legislation and high state testing ended many self-esteem programs in education. Emotional curriculum is now returning. Stressors from culture and families inhibit children’s brain development. Reading proficiency rises and discipline problems plummet when kids learn social skills.
9. Little by Little, Laura Beil, Science News, September 12, 2009
Food allergies are 20 percent more frequent than 10 years ago. Scientists believe infants and young children raised in antiseptic cultures may have immature immunity. Parents may promote health and nutrition by introducing small portions of allergy-prone foods earlier. Other new strategies for reducing food allergies are discussed as well.
10. Accountability Comes to Preschool: Can We Make It Work for Young Chil-dren?, Deborah Stipek, Phi Delta Kappan, June 2006
The author suggests playful ways to effectively teach numbers and letters to young children. Early childhood education requires active interaction; questions and answers that seize teaching moments. Physical, emotional, and social well-being should be emphasized in early childhood education, as they directly affect later academic learning. Positive peer relationships promote better problem-solving skills in school.
11. “Early Sprouts“: Establishing Healthy Food Choices for Young Children, Karrie A. Kalich, Dottie Bauer, and Deirdre McPartlin, Young Children, July 2009
Early childhood nutrition practices are decisive for lifelong eat-ing habits. A positive approach is given—veggies taste great!—rather than no dessert until veggies are eaten. “Early Sprouts“ programs encourage gardening, sensory exploration, cooking, and family involvement with healthy foods. Most children in the United States have diets high in sugar, salt, and fat, and low in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Education can change this.
Part A. Cognition
12. The Creativity Crisis, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Newsweek, July 19, 2010
Creativity is declining in the United States as schools and educators focus on test scores. Imagination predicts adult achievement better than intelligence. Inventive children handle stress and strong emotions well. Brain development is enhanced with original problem-finding and solving exer-cises.
13. An Educator’s Journey toward Multiple Intelligences, Scott Seider, Eduto-pia, 2008
Can intelligence be defined as a general ability? The theory of multiple intelligences (MI), put forth by Howard Gardner, answers NO. The author describes his ap-preciation of a poor student’s “smartness“ on the athletic field. Gardner’s theory focuses on different ways in which children use cognitive processes (e.g., body-kinesthetic, music). Schools are not required to educate for every area of MI.
14. In Defense of Distraction, Sam Anderson, New York Magazine, May 25, 2009
This article is an exposition about the massive amounts of multitasking, electronic technology interpretation and distractions added to our lives by the culture’s “Information Age.“ (An average adolescent in the United States spends six hours per day online.) While hyper-focusing programs abound, the author argues that harnessing distractions may increase brain efficiency for complex cognitive processing.
Part B. Schooling
15. What Really Motivates Kids, Dana Truby, Instructor, Janu-ary/Februarry 2010
Children and adolescents are motivated by self-chosen, relevant, cognitive problems. Educators too often praise high test scores. Intelligence grows through experimenting, creativity, and persistence. Students from schools that engage them in complex tasks often score better on standardized tests.
16. The Truth about Kids & Money, Peg Tyre, Instructor, Sep-tember/October 2009
Many states require some financial education for adolescents. Parents should talk to children about money earlier and often. The stress of the recession with lost jobs, foreclosures, and bankruptcy forces this issue. Instruction on careers, income, credit, and savings should be an essential part of schooling.
Part A. Family
17. Role Reversal, Sara Eckel, Working Mother, February/March 2010
The stress of the recession with career losses is changing family life. Men do more cleaning and caring for children. Over one-half of employed workers in the United States are women. Problems of bruised egos and low self-esteem occur with gender role-reversals. Some emotions, such as empathy, make marriage easier.
18. The Angry Smile, Signe L. Whitson, Going Bonkers Magazine, October 2009
Children learn how to behave in unhelpful passive-aggressive modes from parents, peers, school personnel, television characters, and in cultural contexts. Passive-aggression is not genetic. It can be changed through socialization. This article tells how to substitute assertive expression for passive-aggression.
19. Fast Times, Deborah Swaney, Family Circle Magazine, November 29, 2008
The culture of pre-teens is becoming one of sexualization over socialization. Friends’ language (be “hot,“ “shake your booty“) often trumps family values. Rather than exercise (sports, play) to see what one’s body can do, children experiment with sensuous ap-pearances. The author suggests ways to raise self-esteem without precocious sexual-ity.
Part B. Culture
20. Engaging Young Children in Activities and Conversations about Race and So-cial Class, Rebekka Lee, Patricia G. Ramsey, and Barbara Sweeney, Young Children, November 2008
The United States has one of the most diverse populations in the world. Education about race and social class through positive activities (art, role-play, games, books) can reduce biases. Conversations, and language used, are vital to in-fluencing attitudes. It is valuable to socialize children to adopt cross-race and cross-social class friendships.
21. Use the Science of What Works to Change the Odds for Children at Risk, Susan B. Neuman, Phi Delta Kappan, April 2009
Research documents that intelligence is not all genetic, but grows with targeting language and moti-vation in cultures of poverty. Education of single-parents in their homes which focuses on child-caregiver activities increases both cognitive and social-emotional development. Early intervention can break the cycle of disadvantage.
Part A. Adolescence
22. Foresight Conquers Fear of the Future, Edward Cornish, The Futur-ist, January/February 2010
Adolescents are experiencing rapid changes in socialization. They fear a future with widespread aggression, drug abuse, and moral/ethical decline. Do they have “future phobia“? The author reports that trend analysts have predicted future outcomes. Young adults who have foresight and creativity will choose careers and lifestyles that em-brace technology’s advances.
23. Interview with Dr. Craig Anderson: Video Game Violence, Sarah Howe, Jennifer Stigge, and Brooke Sixta, Eye on Psi Chi, Summer 2008
A scientist with ongoing research on video game technology has ample evidence to support increased aggression in children and adolescents who play violent video games. Those with high trait ag-gressiveness are more influenced to behave with hostility. However, those low in trait aggressiveness are equally affected. Studies about the effect on brain development (ADHD, drug addiction) continue.
24. Portrait of a Hunger Artist, Emily Troscianko, Psychology Today, March/April 2010
The author uncovers the truths behind the malnutrition experi-enced by an adolescent with anorexia nervosa. Her genetics and family stress contributed to her health problems. Food became her best friend, as well as her obsession. Her emotions (envy, resent-ment, scorn) were triggered by weight-consciousness. Her recovery was dra-matic.
25. Between Two Worlds: Educational Experiences of Incarcerated Youth, Signe Nelson and Lynn Olcott, American Jails, July/August 2007
The authors studied reasons for adolescents in jail dropping out of school. Drug abuse, peer pressures, violence, aggression, and family problems were frequently cited. More than half had poor school attendance before jail. Less than 3 percent continued education after discharge. Many desired some type of career preparation and continued learning in jail.
Part B. Young Adulthood
26. Finding a Job in the 21st Century, John A. Challenger, The Futur-ist, September/October 2009
The author suggests an educational semester abroad for young adults. Future careers will require creative candi-dates who have cultural flexibility. Technology will allow employ-ees to face their clients overseas and telecommute home. Over 17 million Americans now work re-motely from their offices. Health care is an industry especially in need of remote e-learning and computer databases.
27. How to “Ace“ Your Freshman Year in the Workplace with C’s: Culture, Com-petence, & Consequences, Paul Hettich, Eye On Psi Chi, Spring 2010
Most young adults have unrealistic job expectations. The author recommends career counseling by one’s junior year. The transition from school to work includes less structure, more uncertainty, team effort, and skills at communicating in language and writing. Factors that lead to promotions and those that influence termination are presented.
28. Heartbreak and Home Runs: The Power of First Experiences, Jay Dixit, Psychology Today, January/February 2010
First memories (love, sex, victories, losses, ly-ing) last longest. They shape our personalities. Young adults use the language of self-talk to convince themselves about what kinds of persons they are. While these early experiences have power, they do not determine all future behavior. Emotions are sufficient, but not necessarily the only, reason for determining personal ways of reacting to events.
29. All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting, Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine, July 12, 2010
Adulthood is less happy when marriage leads to parenting. Children make demands and add stressors unknown to childless couples. The emotions of family life range from agony to ecstasy. Gender differences are minimal. Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman found that child care ranked very low on all adults’ lists of pleasurable activi-ties.
Part A. Middle Adulthood
30. Tearing: Breakthrough in Human Emotional Signaling, Robert Provine, Kurt A. Krosnowski, and Nicole W. Brocato, Evolutionary Psychology, Vol. 71, No. 1, Janu-ary 2009
Shedding tears in adulthood signals the emotion of sadness to onlookers. Students viewed 200 facial images and estimated sadness on a 7-point scale. On duplicate photos with tears removed sadness was not seen; rather, awe, concern, or puzzlement. There were no gender differences. Humans unable to secrete tears (dry eye condi-tion) may have to verbally explain their sadness to others.
31. Good Morning, Heartache, Kathleen McGowan, Psychology To-day, March/April 2009
Adulthood depression is common. Genetic fac-tors and life stressors affect brain chemistry, creating negative emotions. This article describes journeys back to health with multi-ple components. Meditation, spirituality, creativity, humor, nutrition, exer-cise, sleep, acupuncture, medication, and cognitive therapy all help.
32. The New Survivors, Pamela Weintraub, Psychology Today, July/August 2009
The link between cancer and death is being broken. The stress of surviving cancer is making some adults psychologically hardier. Transformative benefits include more positive emotions, spirituality, self-esteem, and friendships. Empowered by hope, survivors generate more for-giveness, gratitude, kindness, and humor than in the past.
Part B. Late Adulthood
33. Healthy Aging in Later Life, Jill Duba Onedera and Fred Stickle, The Family Journal, January 2008
Two theories of aging are discussed in this article; the activity theory is advocated. Physical status limits rigorous exercise. Benefi-cial retirement activities include volunteer work, continuing cognitive and creative endeavors from earlier years, and maintaining ties with family and friends. The Internet and e-mail are technological aides from our culture that make this eas-ier.
34. More Good Years, Dan Buettner, AARP Bulletin, Septem-ber/October 2009
The Earth has a few “Blue Zones.“ These are cultures where many people reach age 90+ in good health with physical stamina. On the Greek island of Ikaria, there is no Alzheimer’s and little cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Aging well is attributed to good nutrition (Mediterranean diet), exercise, spiritual values, strong family and friendship bonds, optimistic emotions and few stressors.
35. This Is Your Brain. Aging., Sharon Begley, Newsweek, June 28 and July 5, 2010
Brain development does not cease with aging. Research with retired persons who had 40 minutes of aerobic exer-cise, three times a week over six months, demonstrated new learning and improved memory and reasoning in that group. Emotional intelligence, vo-cabulary, and recalling the past typically are well or improve with age. Genetics mat-ter, but cognitive interventions, like walking, can affect improve-ments.
36. The Caregiving Boomerang, Gail Sheehy, Newsweek, June 28 and July 5, 2010
Retirement from child care often boomerangs back to unexpected elder care. Gender differences abound. Women are stressed with more primary care. Men usually participate administratively, from a distance. Long-term caregiving sometimes results in physical and emotional ex-haustion and/or premature death. The author suggests several survival strate-gies.
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