Sunday, March 08, 2015

Forget your homework, get back on the PlayStation! Children addicted to games consoles do BETTER at school

I wonder what the opinionated Baroness Greenfield will think of this?  It contradicts her rather decisively. 

My son has been a computer games freak since he was 2 and he is convinced that games do promote useful decision-making skills.  He now has a science degree with first class  honours in mathematics so the games certainly did him no harm

Children who spend a lot of time playing video games do better at school, an international study has suggested.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said there was strong evidence that playing computer games on handheld consoles like Nintendo DSs and Sony PSPs had 'positive effects on learning'.

It said many games 'incorporate good learning principles' and can 'hone problem-solving skills'.

Girls are more likely to get higher marks at school because teachers like them more, an international report has found.

Teachers consistently give better results to girls even when they perform similarly in international tests, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.

It suggests that teachers have a 'gender bias' towards girls because they are well behaved and listen in class.

'Girls' better marks may reflect the fact that they tend to be 'better students' than boys: they tend to do what is required and expected of them, thanks to better self-regulation skills, and they are more driven to excel in school,' the study says.

But this may harm girls' future career prospects, the OECD suggests, because bosses reward people based on what they can do rather than their school grades.

Students who play one-player video games between once a month and almost every day perform better in mathematics, reading, science and problem solving than students who hardly ever play games, the OECD said.

But the evidence shows that playing computer games only helps children at school if they are not competing against other people over the internet.

Boys are much more likely than girls to play computer games – but often get caught up in shoot 'em ups and other online competitions against other players, the study said.

This means that playing on the computer at home helps girls more than boys. The report said: 'The gender gap in video gaming translates into a performance advantage for girls.'

However, it also warns that the 'addictive nature of gaming' has its downsides.

It said: 'Students who play video games excessively might not be able to focus on their work at school, may be less willing to spend time on school work at home, might develop sleep problems, and might be less perseverant if there are no immediate rewards for their efforts, like those offered in gaming.'

Today's shock research comes after Boris Johnson claimed video games were helping children become 'nicer, kinder and more well-balanced' than their parents – and was even helping to cut crime.

The London Mayor ridiculed claims mobile phones and handheld games consoles were turning youngsters into 'lidless lizards'.

Mr Johnson said he understood people's concerns when they saw their children 'bathed perpetually in the light of the screen gazing like lidless lizards at whatever depraved and corrupting material they can find'.

But Mr Johnson said: 'I see no evidence whatever that tech is coarsening or depraving the young people of today.

'In fact I would say that on the whole the younger generation are nicer, kinder, more well-balanced and more emotionally literate than my lot ever were.'

The London Mayor added: 'And when you consider the very steep falls in crime that we are seeing not just in London but across the developed world and when you consider that crime is overwhelmingly committed by young men you have to wonder whether there is a correlation - a link between the tech boom and the rise in civility.

'What do they suffer from, the young men who are so foolish as to get sucked into crime? Anger, low self-esteem, a sense of social exclusion - a feeling that no one much cares about them.

'And what do they get from these gizmos – endless opportunities for self-expression, communication - the myriad pipette drops of self-affirmation that come with the selfie and the text and the shared video.'


Common Core Testing Sparks Walkouts

Students around the country are fleeing standardized testing

In New Mexico, hundreds of high school students are walking out of class in protest of the new Common Core-aligned tests just implemented in the state. This is part of larger movement nationwide by parents and students to protest the standards, while without waiting for state legislatures to act.

The students are concerned that the increased focus on testing is detracting from more meaningful education goals - a concern that is very much justified.

Education is far too complex a thing to be captured by a single number, but a recent obsession with “international competitiveness” by policy makers in Washington, DC has led to the Department of Education demanding more and more testing in exchange for flexibility waivers for No Child Left Behind and funding from Race to the Top.

The problem with this is that standardized tests really only measure one thing - how good you are at taking standardized tests. In the real world, people compete by being creative, original, diligent, entrepreneurial, and professional, not by rote memorization. This is why countries whose children perform well on standardized tests frequently have little to show in terms of economic and scientific innovation - areas in which the United States traditionally shines.

The more test scores are emphasized, the more classroom time must be devoted to test preparation, and like every other decision, this carries an opportunity cost. Time spent “teaching to the test” is time that cannot be spent on more productive activities, for example, encouraging critical thinking skills and allowing students to explore their own curiosity.

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of an increasingly inflexible education bureaucracy that values conformity over genuine learning, but the kinds of walk-outs we are seeing in New Mexico are an extremely powerful way to send a message that Common Core standards are not acceptable. If more students were willing to take the plunge and opt out of these tests, state legislatures would have little choice but to act. The symbol of thousands of children outright refusing the tests mandated by government is one that would be impossible to ignore. All it takes to create political change is for brave people to stand up and fight.


Going Bananas: A Case Study in Media-Manufactured Racism

You can't say "niggardly" or "black holes" or "chink in the armor" without provoking protests or risking your job. You can't invoke the Constitution or call illegal behavior "illegal" without being accused of hatred. And now, you can't goof around at a high school basketball game in silly costumes without the world accusing you of "racial insensitivity."

Last week, thanks to hyperbolic grievance-mongers and irresponsible reporters, the students of Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, N.J., garnered international headlines and Internet infamy. "Shocking moment students at Catholic school dressed as monkeys and a banana and taunted black basketball players ... and DIDN'T get punished," the U.K. Daily Mail blared last week. "Students who taunted black players at New Jersey basketball game get warning, no punishment," USA Today decried., "the premier destination for African-American pop culture and entertainment," exclaimed: "Really?!? White High School Students Taunt Black Basketball Team in Monkey and Banana Costumes."

No, not really.

If any of these media outlets had bothered breathing into paper bags before making abject fools of themselves, they might have actually committed journalism. Holy Spirit is a tight-knit community with a 50-year tradition of excellence in academics, sports and character education. I know more than a little about the school and its student body because I am a proud alumna of H.S.H.S. and have stayed in touch with many of its dedicated teachers and administrators over the years.

Part of Holy Spirit's half-century legacy includes a storied athletic rivalry with nearby Atlantic City High School. The competition between the Holy Spirit Spartans and the Atlantic City Vikings has always been fierce but friendly. At a basketball game two weeks ago, Holy Spirit students decided to show their team spirit by recreating Arizona State University's famous "Curtain of Distraction" during their rivals' foul shots.

Unlike the pot-stirrers who've turned an innocent prank into an international p.c. incident, Holy Spirit's senior class president Pat Shober was actually in the stands on Feb. 18 during the game. He donned a green ballerina tutu for the foul shot skits. Other students scrounged up a bumblebee suit, monkey pajamas, costumes for Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz," a jack-o'-lantern and a banana.

"The fan section was louder than it had been all season long, and the fans, of both sides I may add, were thoroughly amused and actually complimented many of us on our actions numerous times both at the game itself and throughout the time since then," Shober recounted in an open letter to the public.

"Racism was not brought up once by a student, player or spectator that night. We intended no racist connotations during our performances that night."

The Spartans had used the costumes at previous games without controversy. Ray Ellis, a black Holy Spirit alumnus and former football player, had dressed up as the banana at a sports match three years ago. The 19-year-old athlete tweeted a photo of himself in costume after the manufactured brouhaha, which he rightly called "ridiculous." Ellis explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Phil Anastasia — one of the few responsible journalists who covered the story — that "we get creative at games, we dress up in costumes, we show a lot of enthusiasm. ... Other people see what they want to see and try to make it into something it's not."

Indeed, race didn't enter the picture until two error-riddled reports from the Press of Atlantic City appeared a week after the game occurred and snowballed into global tabloid hysteria. The paper extensively quoted an Atlantic City high school coach who wasn't even there. The paper failed to mention that the vast majority of the Holy Spirit basketball team is black. The paper neglected to describe the full array of costumes involved. Nor did it quote any of the kids involved in the skits.

Anastasia, who was in attendance, noted: "I was there that night in Absecon. There were black kids along with white kids in that student section, yelling at Atlantic City's players and cheering for Holy Spirit players. And for the record, there were times during that game when Atlantic City had more white players on the floor (two) than Holy Spirit."

Stephen Brown, a Holy Spirit alumnus who graduated last year and has many friends at the school, told me: "It is a classic example of how the race card is so unfairly pulled, and in this case is being used to vilify innocent high school students." Showing more maturity than the Chicken Little instigators in newsrooms around the world who defamed his fellow Spartans, Brown reflected: "This is not only a perfect example of poor journalism, but an example of how members of the biased media like to stir the racial pot."

What we have here is a textbook case of media-manufactured racism. Knee-jerk race-baiters who see bigotry at every turn are an embarrassment to the profession. Shame on the smear merchants and their enablers who go bananas over every last imagined slight and recklessly monkey around with students' lives and reputations.

The cage-rattlers don't care about truth, honor or integrity. Lesson learned: It's a social justice jungle out there, kids. Be prepared.


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