Things to Read - Six Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on The Bachelor(ette), Child Literacy, Daydreaming, Ordinariness, Facebook, and Mentally Ill Animals)

1. The Paris Review has a great article on real life vs. the Bachelor(ette) - " Every friend I’ve spoken to about The Bachelor and Bachelorette has arrived independently at the same idea: They should make a Bachelor(ette) with people like us. . . . When we fall in love, we know it’s for real. We may use the same words as the Bachelors and Bachelorettes, but our words have different meanings. We fall for the ones we fall for not because of things that have happened to them, but because of the things they make happen for themselves. They bake sweet breads and write books. They have a way with animals. They’re awkward. They discriminate. They’re kind and enthusiastic and read out loud to us on road trips. They write us long letters about what they’ve noticed and thought and felt. We go on walks. We share meals. And then something in our minds has clicked and everything in the world that touches us carries some trace of them. I guess you could try to film all this but it would make for terrible television."

2. NPR explains the importance of pointing to words while reading to children -

In a recent study, "The teachers were told to read their books four times a week, and to point out the print in this way between four and eight times, so that together the small phrases hardly added extra time to their reading sessions — maybe 90 seconds per book. It is hard to imagine that such a small adjustment would make any difference. It was a series of moments, questions and gestures. How much could that do?

So far, the kids have been followed for two years. They are now in first grade, and according to the most recent findings, which were published in the journal Child Development, even these small changes make a measurable difference. "Children who focused their attention on print ... had better literacy outcomes than those who did not," says Piasta. "It was very clear."

3. The New Yorker summarizes new studies indicating that daydreaming helps stimulate creative insight - “We always assume that you get more done when you’re consciously paying attention to a problem,” Schooler told me. “That’s what it means, after all, to be ‘working on something.’ But this is often a mistake. If you’re trying to solve a complex problem, then you need to give yourself a real break, to let the mind incubate the problem all by itself. We shouldn’t be so afraid to actually take some time off.”

4. Kid, You Are Not Special on CNN - There is a middle ground where "how things are" and "how things can be" meets. It is at this middle point where growth happens. But if parents, teachers and the other adults in a child's life never acknowledge "how things are" -- no matter how good the intention may be -- then they are denying that child an opportunity to mature, to develop a strong sense of self-confidence that can only be earned by recognizing shortcomings and dealing with disappointments and failures.
. . . .

Accolades and lists may tell us about accomplishments, but life is meant to be experienced, not just accomplished. It's like the difference between reading books for the sake of reading and reading books just to get a good grade. Tell me, once you're done with school, are you then supposed to be done with reading books? I sure hope not.

5. I really loved this short piece in the Atlantic on how facebook has impacted society

"Facebook fixates the present as always a future past. By this I mean that social media users have become always aware of the present as something we can post online that will be consumed by others. Are we becoming so concerned about posting our lives on Facebook that we forget to live our lives in the here-and-now? Think of a time when you took a trip holding a camera in your hand and then think of when you did the same without the camera. The experience is slightly different. We have a different attachment to our present when we are not concerned with documenting.

Today, social media means we are always traveling with the camera in our hands (metaphorically and often literally); we always can document. When going to see live music I notice more and more people distracted from the performance in order to take photos and videos to post to Facebook and YouTube. When the breakfast I made the other week looked especially delicious, I posted a photo of it before even taking a bite. The Facebook Eye in action."

6. The New York Times published an interesting article asking "why don’t . . . human doctors routinely cooperate with animal experts?" and articulating some of the reasons why they should.

"Melanoma has been diagnosed in the bodies of animals from penguins to buffalo. Koalas in Australia are in the middle of a rampant epidemic of chlamydia. Yes, that kind — sexually transmitted. I wondered about obesity and diabetes — two of the most pressing health concerns of our time. Do wild animals get medically obese? Do they overeat or binge eat? I learned that yes, they do.

I also discovered that geese, gorillas and sea lions grieve and may become depressed. Shelties, Weimaraners and other dog breeds are prone to anxiety disorders.

Suddenly, I began to reconsider my approach to mental illness, a field I had studied during the psychiatric residency I completed before turning to cardiology. Perhaps a human patient compulsively burning himself with cigarettes could improve if his therapist consulted a bird specialist experienced in the treatment of parrots with feather-picking disorder. Significantly for substance abusers and addicts, species from birds to elephants are known to seek out psychotropic berries and plants that change their sensory states — that is, get them high. The more I learned, the more a tantalizing question started creeping into my thoughts: Why don’t we human doctors routinely cooperate with animal experts?"

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