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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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Horizon - specifically Horizon: Who Do You Want Your Child To Be? - is fascinating viewing this week.

The first bit that I found most interesting was the four-marshmallows-and-a-bell experiment. Essentially a 4-year old child is told that it can either eat one marshmallow now, or wait 10 minutes and then have three marshmallows. If the child cannot wait the time then they can ring the bell. What's the point of the experiment? Well the belief of those who ran it 40-years ago is that it predicted which children would go on to have a good constructive life, versus though that had more problematic times. And the children that had the former? Those that could wait the full 10 minutes.

The second interesting bit was a US school that is running a financial reward scheme, similar to wages, that are earned for dressing well, behaving well, and getting good grades. So far though the experiment hasn't run its course, so they aren't sure whether this has positively or negatively affected the kids, if at all.

The third and final interesting bit relates to David Baddiel's brother (DB was presenting the programme). His brother is a taxi driver in New York, and by traditional standards has never had a great job. His feeling was that being streamed at Primary School (5-8 years), that is constantly told his position in the class, made him give up trying - he felt classified as stupid from a young age, so why bother? Which suggests that streaming is a dangerous and destructive thing to do, rather than actually motivating children to do better.

Following on from that, a US psychologist has taught two groups of children in different ways, with the basis that categorising children is a bad idea due to the dynamic nature of the brain. One group were praised all the time based on their effort, whereas the second group were praised based on their results. The first group were better achieving.

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Very thought-provoking post. Reading your post has inspired me to go check out the "UP series" directed by Michael Apted!

It was a great programme. You guys might get Horizon repeated on BBC World, or I guess it'll be torrent'd somewhere.

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