Monday, March 05, 2007

"Duh" Studies

I collect what I think of as "Duh" research—studies that essentially confirm things that most homeschooling parents have known anecdotally for years. Mostly it amuses me, but it's nice to have for in-laws and others who want "proof" that homeschooling can work.

• In one of the best "duh" studies in ages, researchers at Florida State and the University of Michigan have discovered that there is no one method of reading instruction that works for all kids, and that kids learn to read best when reading programs are tailored to their individual needs and skills. The original article is in Science (26 January 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5811, pp. 464 - 465), behind a subscription wall, but a summary—"No one strategy is best for teaching reading, FSU professor shows"— is available for free access.

• Who knew? Today's kids are overscheduled and have too little time for free play (and their parents should play along with them, too). The American Academy of Pediatrics published a clinical report last October on "The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds."

• Praise can make kids lazy? A February article in New York magazine, "How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise," summarizes recent work on the complexities of praise and hard work and risk-taking.

• New school skill emphasis: relax & don't work so hard—"Overachieving Students Hear a New Message: Lighten Up."

• Learning is fun and stimulates our opioid receptors—in other words, learning gives pleasure and can be addictive. Another article that's behind a subscription wall—American Scientist, (vol. 94, no. 3, p. 247)—but at least big universities have PR offices who publish summaries: "Grasping the Pleasure Principle."

Cognitive Daily (one of my regular favorites) described an interesting study about the limits of intelligence, confirming the effects of practice and hard work.

• And the last for today, from another of my favorite ScienceBloggers, Janet Stemwedel (aka Dr. Free-Ride), about an OSU study that showed students remember better what they learn when they figure things out for themselves than when they follow specific directions.