Boosting self-esteem has little effect on academic performance or misbehavior (including substance abuse, sex and violence), researchers concluded after a two-year review of studies on the subject. However, people with high self-esteem are significantly happier than others. (scientificamerican.com, 12-20-04)
The First Amendment guarantee of free speech and press is unappreciated by high school students, according to a $1 million survey of 112,003 students last spring. More than a third of respondents believed newspapers need government approval of their stories before they can be published, and only half said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval. The study was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which released the results in January.
Kindergarten teacher censors child reading from Christian book. A Sacramento girl who was invited to bring two of her favorite books to share with the class chose a book containing moral precepts attributed to Jesus. The teacher interrupted the girl and told her she needed to read her other book because pupils weren't allowed to read books about God in class. In another case, a 9th-grade student assigned to write an essay on personal feelings about starting classes wrote of her anxiety and how God helped to calm her down. The instructor told the class she did not want any more "writing about religion." The Pacific Justice Institute assisted families of both students in educating school officials about the legality of religious expression by students.
Phonics helps adults with dyslexia, too. Intensive phonics instruction actually modifies activity in reading-related parts of the brain in a way that fosters improved performance on reading tests, a team of neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC concluded last fall based on a brain-imaging study. Phonics techniques have been found to boost reading skills in children with dyslexia but hadn't previously been studied in adults with the condition. (Science News, 11-6-04)