The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
May 272010

A very good piece about Generation X (born 1961-1981) moms are running against the tide of over-protection.  Unlike most X’er parents who want to protect their Homelander children at all costs, she instead suggest that kids should learn by being out in the world playing with peers on their own. She’s right, of course, that playing games with peers develops self regulation. But the new mode (see the  preschool “Tools of the Mind” curriculum) develops self-regulation by games with the teacher or by carefully supervised peer games in which the various roles play are all pre-chosen. That way you make sure that the games only teach the right lessons and none of the wrong ones.

The need to some kind of role-playing or game-playing to develop self-regulation is very well established.  In a famous European study, one group of 2nd graders was simply told to stand absolutely still for as long as they could.  Average time before giving up: around 2 minutes.  Another group was told to stand absolutely still because you are a sentry on duty guarding a post.  Average time: 12 minutes.  The need kids have to “imagine themselves into” a role of success or mastery at something (as a parent, doctor, patient, scientist, warrior, whatever) is so basic that one wonders why ordinary K-12 schools don’t tap into it more often.

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