Sunday, December 7, 2014

Politically Correct is Anything But Correct....

I know I've been away from Sesame Street for more than a few years, but this recent discovery, pictured to the right, left me wondering a bit about sponsorship.

Sure, I get that fans of cookies, and fans of Cookie Monster, might be prompted to try this self-proclaimed "Sweet Treat,"  but I truly believe that if the expectation that they will be similar to other sweet treats craved by Cookie Monster, said fans will be severely disappointed.  

I don't believe that Cookie Monster is a significant contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic, and I always felt he was a fine example of what over-indulgence could do.  Kids understand sarcasm at an early age these days -- and why wouldn't Sesame Street be the place to learn such a skill?

After all, Cookie Monster screaming "Clem-en-tines" doesn't seem to have the same impact as "COOKIES."


Politically Correct is Anything But Correct....

The world is packaging political correctness as the excuse, often overlooking the life-lessons that could be taught by avoiding the sugar-coating (pun intended, here) of the obvious.  This rant is not specifically about the multiple attempts at redefining the food pyramid -- it's much bigger than that.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned the struggles of sophomores in high school to write, in cursive, a simple pledge statement and sign their names on the PSAT.  These kids had been taught to write in cursive, but they haven't used it in so many years that the "practice makes perfect" aspect of the skill was long-forgotten.  There are schools today that are abandoning the teaching of cursive handwriting in favor of 21st century keyboarding skills, at the same time overlooking the brain benefits of writing in longhand.

Recess.  The joke used to be that it was the favorite "subject" of every student in elementary school.  High-stakes testing has resulted in many districts eliminating, or severely shortening, or structuring explicit or implicit instruction during playground time.  Character education, anti-bullying skills, or math skills suddenly embedded in the time on the playground, rather than allowing kids to work on a playground and "learn to play nice in the sandbox" with other kids.  Society has eliminated the opportunity for this basic skill to develop in kids, with adults intervening in small squabbles, or a push or a shove, that would have worked itself out and taught life lessons to all involved.

Transferring those same kids to the classroom, there is little tolerance for difference of opinion, or individual differences.  Elementary teachers are having to adjust their instruction to include character education, negotiation strategies, and skills as simple as taking turns before they teach content, in order to lay the foundation for collaborative educational activities.

It's a mindshift -- and not in a good way.  Technology is not the only culprit in this shift, it's a combination of things.  Kids aren't encouraged to play without explicit supervision of adults, which means that the adults resolve issues before they are issues.  (This past fall, there was a parent in Florida accused of neglect for allowing her nine year old to go to the playground less than a block from home to play with friends.  Compare that to what life was like 20 - 30 years ago, and think of the number of parental accusations or charges that would exist!)  Teenagers who dislike the structure established at home either call, or threaten to call, Children and Youth Services to report parents.

Kids now believe that anything perceived as bullying requires a form to be completed in the guidance office so that an adult can handle what used to be handled between kids at the superficial level.  And while I'm not suggesting that I have actual data the societal handling of bullying has now escalated the acceptable confrontation strategies of peaceful protest from sit-ins to looting and rioting, I certainly am beginning to wonder about where we've gone wrong in educating those who choose to demonstrate their civil rights at the expense of small business owners.

Is it Cookie Monster's fault?  I hardly think so.  In fact, he may have grounds for a bullying form.