This morning a work colleague directed me to this article on NPR, “Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control" by Alix Spiegel. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, but the article made for fascinating reading. Some of you may already know about “executive function”, but this was the first I had heard about it: it’s the ability to self-regulate one’s behavior, emotions, and impulses. The argument is made that the onslaught of videogames and the tendency of parents to overregulate their children’s schedules has caused a decrease in executive function abilities in children. Videogames don’t encourage it and overscheduled children always have adults present to regulate behaviors for them.
I appreciated that the article made the point that a lot of kids "diagnosed" with ADHD could simply have an underdeveloped executive function, which makes complete sense. They aren't actually being hyper...they only lack the skills to self-regulate. And there was also the interesting section at the end that talked about Wii's role in executive function: while it does get kids moving and may help with childhood obesity, it doesn't encourage executive function.
What I found frustrating was that, even with an innovative program like the one discussed in the article, the end result - how the kids "perform" - is still a major focus. I'm just irked in general at the mentality that kids are "products" of their parents, their upbringing, their generation, and we measure their "performance" in order to make us adults seem productive and successful. Ugh. I'm tired of the whole thing.
And reading the article made me wish I was working directly with kids again: I would love to play the "Freeze" game with them! What a fun thing to work into a program!