The Chicago Tribune reports on a class that teaches teenagers “voluntary simplicity,” giving up one something significant each month and thinking, talking, and writing about what it feels like. Begun last fall as a project to inspire mindfulness in the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, the program now seems even more meaningful in light of the economic troubles. Students are evaluating what it is they really “need” and gaining a deeper understanding of the impact they have on the world and the impact the world has on them.
The Mundelein [High School] teens’ project began in November, when they gave up sugar and eating at chain restaurants. A television blackout followed in December, and January’s challenge was to forgo using sheets of new paper. They pledged in February to avoid buying anything that might end up in a landfill. The next challenges are the boldest yet: a March without cell phones and an April without the Internet.
I especially liked the comments of the expert quoted in the article, Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids. She said that going without can be good for teens.
Packing lunches, skipping the trendiest jeans or canceling cell phone service gives children a new role as a family contributor and a vital lesson in self-discipline, she said. In the process, young people reared in times of economic abundance may rethink their expectations.
“For many kids, this is an opportunity. I think that most of them are rising to the challenge,” she said.
The economic upheaval provides an excellent opportunity to talk to kids of all ages about the role they can play in helping the family. It does not have to be scary. Indeed, it cam be very empowering to teach them that the feeling of confidence and satisfaction they get from doing without and making a contribution is far greater than the momentary pleasure of being given something that can be lost, broken, or outgrown.
Purim, which comes this year on March 10, is the celebration of the triumph of Queen Esther over the plot of Haman to kill all the Jews. Jewish children love to dress up and to hear the “purim shpiel,” the megillah’s story of how Esther, a Jew, married King Ahasuerus. They shake their groggers (noisemakers) whenever the storyteller mentions Haman, the evil adviser to the king who wore a tri-cornered hat. Haman hated the Jews because Esther’s uncle Mordecai refused to bow to him, saying he would bow only to God.
And don’t forget to try some Hamantaschen, the delicious triangular cookies filled with jam or poppyseeds.
Here is the opening paragraph of a new press release:
Mattel, Inc. (NYSE:MAT) and Nickelodeon/Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP), announced today that Dora the Explorer™ is growing up! The companies have introduced a whole new way to look at Dora for girls five years and up. This groundbreaking initiative, featuring fashion dolls and accessories, is a completely new brand extension that empowers girls to influence and change the lives of Dora and her new friends. It’s innovative, diverse, wholesome, bi-lingual and entertaining.
“A whole new way to look at Dora” and “a completely new brand extension” both translate to “more things for us to sell,” of course. And my heart sinks to hear of plucky little Dora being turned into a “brand extension” “featuring fashion dolls and accessories.” So Dora is going to turn into Barbie now, all about what she wears and has instead of what she does and what she learns?
Judy Berman wrote on Salon’s Broadsheet that this makes the new middle schooler Dora “with a whole new fashionable look” sound like she’s becoming a Gossip Girl.
(S)tarting this fall, for the not-terribly-recession-conscious price of $59.99, your five year old will also be able to buy an older, doll version of the character. Though Mattel and Nick are waiting a few months to reveal exactly what she’ll look like, a bizarre silhouette accompanying the press release shows that, at the very least, Dora will have long hair and be decked out in a short skirt or dress and a pair of flats.
Berman does not think this will go over very well with kids. “You can put a skirt on Dora and cinch her waist, but by the time kids reach kindergarten, they may well think of Dora as ‘baby stuff.'” But the authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes, Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D, have put up an online petition calling for Mattel and Nickelodeon to halt Dora’s makeover.
What happened? FIRST it was Dora’s Magic Talking Kitchen, THEN Dora Princess, THEN Dora Babysitter in her cousin’s show, NOW DORA TWEEN.
Alas, we saw the signs. The cute flower lip gloss, the pinkified look, the sudden separation of Dora and Diego shows…What next? Dora the Cheerleader? Dora the fashionista with stylish purse and stilettos? Dora the Pop Star with Hoppin’ Dance Club and “Juice” Bar? We can expect it all, because that’s what passes as “tween” in the toy department these days….
We know that if the original Dora grew up, she wouldn’t be a fashion icon or a shopaholic. She’d develop her map reading skills and imagine the places she could go. She’d capitalize on those problem solving skills to design new ways to bring fresh water to communities in need around the world. Maybe she’d become a world class runner or follow her love of animals and become a wildlife preservationist or biologist. We’ll never know because the only way a girl can grow up in tween town, is to narrow that symphony of choices to one note. It’s such a sell out of Dora, of all girls.
I agree. It’s a sell-out of Dora and of her fans, another example of popular culture promoting the idea that any girl over age 5 doesn’t care about anything but how she looks.
I am really intrigued by the new NBC series Kings, “a contemporary re-telling of the timeless tale of David and Goliath. This series is an epic story of greed and power, war and romance, forbidden loves and secret alliances — and a young hero who rises to power in a modern-day kingdom.”
I was lucky enough to get an early peek at the opening episode and found it fascinating to see the classic themes and characters in a modern-day setting. It explores issues and conflicts that resonate with today’s headlines — war, energy, health care — and eternal themes of faith, conflict, loyalty, and family.
David Shepherd (Chris Egan) is a soldier who rescues a wounded hostage, not knowing the man he rescued is the son of the king, Ian McShane (“Deadwood,” “Kung Fu Panda”). In gratitude, the king offers David access and power, but there is treachery that makes the battles of war seem easy. The superb actor Dylan Baker co-stars.
It premieres on March 15. Give it a look. (Note to parents: Mature material including violence and sexual references)