The life and times of the unemployed

Interesting piece in the Upshot about how unemployed men and women spend their days.  As you might guess, lots of TV.


What really stands out to me though is that housework difference.  Really, sitting at home all day and the men can’t even do more of the housework?!

When the police don’t police

It’s pretty amazing what’s going on with the NYPD.  Because some people are unhappy that it is apparently legal to choke someone to death so long as you are a police officer, they are taking great umbrage and have decided that now they get to decide what laws to enforce.  Nice editorial from the NYT:

For the second straight week, police officers across the city have all but stopped writing tickets and severely cut down the number of arrests. The Times reported that in the week ending Sunday, only 347 criminal summonses were issued citywide, down from 4,077 over the same period last year. Parking and traffic tickets were down by more than 90 percent. In Coney Island, ticketing and summonses fell to zero…

Call this what it is: a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy by those who do not set law-enforcement policy. This deplorable gesture is bound to increase tension in a city already rattled over the killing by the police of an unarmed man, Eric Garner, last summer, the executions of two officers in Brooklyn last month, and the shootings on Monday of two plainclothes officers in the Bronx.

The madness has to stop. The problem is not that a two-week suspension of “broken windows” policing is going to unleash chaos in the city. The problem is that cops who refuse to do their jobs and revel in showing contempt to their civilian leaders are damaging the social order all by themselves.  [emphases mine]

These people are sworn to protect the citizens of NYC.  And now they think they don’t have to because some of us think there should actually be accountability for cops who abuse their authority and power?!  Really pretty disgusting.

Photo the day

From National Geographic Found:

A white fallow stag stands in a forest in Switzerland, 1973.Photograph by James P. Blair, National Geographic Creative

A white fallow stag stands in a forest in Switzerland, 1973.PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES P. BLAIR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

The secret of my success

I’m pretty smart and I work hard enough.  Anyway, I think about this stuff all the time with my kids and especially because I have a relative struggling in college who is quite intelligent, but very much lacking the non-cognitive skills or organization, motivation, perseverance, etc., and thereby having a very hard time of it.  This is also what I fear for my older son who manages to get A’s on almost everything he completes, but ends up with far lower grades because of all that he doesn’t end up turning in on time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about non-cognitive skills ever since I read Nurtureshock and recognized in myself someone who was always told I was smart and therefore lacked the perseverance in areas that did not come easily to me.  I’m quite determined that my youngest son, who quite identifies as a smart person, avoids this same fate.  I also often thing back to Paul Tough’s take on cognitive versus non-cognitive skills in How Children Succeed.  Here’s the thing, though, despite lacking in perseverance and grit, I’ve done okay, thanks to strong cognitive skills and, apparently, strong enough non-cognitive skills.

Tough’s books and this whole focus on “grit” largely builds off the work of Carol Dweck.  Turns out Dweck has created a school-based program to help teach a “growth mindset” regarding one’s brain.  The evidence for the impact of this “growth mindset” is pretty solid, so if this translates to a successful school-based program, more power to her.  Anyway, she’s got a nice article in Scientific American summing up her research.

In addition to encouraging a growth mind-set through praise for effort, parents and teachers can help children by providing explicit instruction regarding the mind as a learning machine. Blackwell, Trzesniewski and I designed an eight-session workshop for 91 students whose math grades were declining in their first year of junior high. Forty-eight of the students received instruction in study skills only, whereas the others attended a combination of study skills sessions and classes in which they learned about the growth mind-set and how to apply it to schoolwork…

As the semester progressed, the math grades of the kids who learned only study skills continued to decline, whereas those of the students given the growth-mind-set training stopped falling and began to bounce back to their former levels. Despite being unaware that there were two types of instruction, teachers reported noticing significant motivational changes in 27 percent of the children in the growth mind-set workshop as compared with only 9 percent of students in the control group…

Other researchers have replicated our results…

Teaching children such information is not just a ploy to get them to study. People may well differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute more to school achievement than IQ does.

Such lessons apply to almost every human endeavor. For instance, many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable. Similarly, many people accomplish little in their jobs without constant praise and encouragement to maintain their motivation. If we foster a growth mind-set in our homes and schools, however, we will give our children the tools to succeed in their pursuits and to become productive workers and citizens.

Interesting stuff and definitely worth applying with our kids (and presumably even my college students).  That said, the one thing that really bugged me a bit when reading this was how it was over-simplified into a binary growth mindset versus non growth mindset.  Surely, like pretty much everything in life, there’s somewhat of a continuum.  Sure, I’m only an N of 1, but I strongly suspect I’m not the only person with strong cognitive skills, who has just enough grit (and good fortune in life) to make the most of them, despite not having much of a growth mindset.  I just don’t like over-simplifying concepts in order to sell them.  Anyway, good for you for reading this whole long blog post ;-).

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