Kids, and outer space: two stories each

Kid stories!

Via Drudge, the results of some research into childhood obesity, and ways to curtail it. I think those tips could help adults, too, but I am definitely on board with the idea that habits learned in adolescence tend to extend into adulthood. (My adolescence was spent snacking as often as possible, and expecting dessert after every dinner. While I was not an overweight child, I didn’t quite lose all my baby fat in high school, and when I quit kung fu, I totally ballooned.)

Via Slashdot, news that too much homework can be counterproductive. This is a class issue more than anything, apparently:

Upper-income parents, who tend to have closer communication with the school and with teachers, are better able to assist their children with homework. But in poorer households — often headed by single parents, parents with comparatively little education or, in some nations, parents held back by language barriers — homework may not be cordially received, especially by parents of small children.

“An unintended consequence may be that those children who need extra work and drill the most are the ones least likely to get it. Increasing homework loads is likely to aggravate tensions within the family, thereby generating more inequality and eroding the quality of overall education,” Baker said.

Wow, horrible in-text sponsored links. Yet another intrusive, aggravating form of advertising. If I ever get to a point where I want to include ads on this site (something I don’t take lightly; I find ads horribly annoying in general), remind me not to do that.

An interesting tidbit from the article:

During the early 1980s, many U.S. schools and teachers ramped up their homework assignments, at least to younger children, in reaction to intense media focus on studies comparing the mediocre performance of American students to the industriousness of their Japanese counterparts. At the same time, ironically, Japanese educators were attempting to reduce the amount of homework given to their students and allow them more leisure from the rigors of schooling. Neither the American nor the Japanese educational reform of the 1980s seems to have affected general achievement levels in either country, according to the book.

Pretty interesting stuff, overall. I have to say that I think less homework is better. It leaves room for parents to teach in their own way, and for kids to have social lives. I agree that rather than tacking on more and more homework, school systems should instead be looking into better teaching methods.

And now for the space stories!

Funding has been promised for moon and Mars missions. I continue to have the same reaction to this kind of news. I think space is great, and I think we should go there. But at the same time, I can’t be reasonably sure that outer space projects are the best investment of our funds.

Meanwhile, somebody sold Neil Armstrong’s hair! (Now that was a sensationalist headline worthy of MSN.)