Thursday, April 29, 2010

Child's play...

Something is called "child's play" if it requires minimal effort for adults. It's almost dismissive. Learning Spanish is child's play; try Croat. Now that was hard. Or Oh, you made roast duck with endive. That's child's play. I made spherical egg of white asparagus with false truffle.

It seems to me that children seem to have an easier time of things that are harder for adults. Like altruism. Take, for instance, a study published in the April issue of Psychological Science.

According to MSNBC, children as young as 21 months are more inclined to help people who also seem helpful. Kristen Dunfield and Valerie Kuhlmeier conducted experiments where children interacted with two women who varied in their ability and/or willingness to give the children a toy. The studies showed the children were much more likely to help the adult who shared their toys with the children.

Students in Salem, Mass., also seem ready and willing to help people they've never met. The Salem News reports children in Bates Elementary School have been donating their change to "Pennies for Peace," a program started by author Greg Mortenson. His non-profit has built over 130 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has a special focus on girls' education in that region. The children were inspired by Mortenson's children's book "Listen to the Wind," which chronicled his experiences.

Long Beach Middle School in New York is another school in the news a bit recently. A few weeks ago teen singer Justin Bieber performed live there as a reward for students who collected donations for a food bank. More recently, as reported on MSNBC, seventh-grader Miriam Starobin performed the Heimlich maneuver on her friend and classmate Allyson Golden after she choked on a piece of gum. The kicker is, Starobin was spurred into action by remembering a similar scene from SpongeBob Squarepants.

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