Month: January 2012

Kids These Days: “Indulged & Modern”

I was recently preparing for a talk that I was to give on childhood obesity. One of the things that struck me in my reading on the topic was the fact that childhood obesity was a relatively new phenomenon, something that has dramatically increased over the past 15 years or so.

In preparing, I couldn’t help reflect on my own childhood.  (I know it was in an era when Abe Lincoln was splitting wood for log cabins). On weekends and virtually every day after school we tended to venture in to this zone called “the outside.” We played street sports and argued with each other –  you know, “You’re out.” “No I’m not,” sort of stuff.
Mothers were never in the mix, except when they shouted at the top of their lungs to come back in the house for lunch.  (After wolfing down a nutritious white bread and bologna sandwich we bolted back into that outside zone.)  Dads were rarely seen, too. They weren’t hovering or playing with us. We argued and played without adults.
The other day, I was talking to a mom about her 8 year old child’s behavior.  (While the mom talked the kid stayed in the waiting room absorbed in his new iPad. When I greeted them, he barely looked up.)  When  the mom later talked about her concerns, I said something like, “Well, you know, he’s indulged and modern.” 
The mom laughed at that phrase. She knew it was true.
Rarely playing outside, this 8 year old was on the path.
Life was easy. 
You suck up to the electronic soothing device and don’t sweat it. Who wants to bother arguing with other kids whether you are “out” or “safe?”   
That was so yesterday.


Bullying: The Other Side of the Coin

Recently I wrote about   “A Story of Not Bullying,” effectively describing a mom who overreacted to one incident in which her daughter had been pushed on line and came home quite upset, as a result.
What about the other side of the coin? 
Take Aaron, a ninth grader.  Aaron tells me how angry he is at lunch every day because he feels embarrassed by this kid named Sam. Each day when Aaron sits down at the table,  Sam proclaims very loudly so everyone can hear, “Oh, no…not Aaron again. How come you’re sitting here?” Aaron never knows how to respond effectively. 
Sam’s behavior fits the definition of bullying. The behavior is repeated with a clear desire to hurt or humiliate. There is a clear power imbalance.
Even though the school has some sort of “anti-bullying” policy in place, the last thing Aaron wants to do is get either his parents or school personnel involved. There is just too much down side from his point of view.
I’m not sure I blame him.
As we talked about how Aaron interacted with others, it was interesting that Aaron came to a realization that one of the reasons people have made fun of him (this was not new) was that he was “annoying,” as he put it. Aaron said that he talked too much and that it got on people’s nerves. Going forward he was going to make a concerted effort to see how others would respond if he became more “low key.”
Some may see this as blaming the victim. 
Certainly, my preference would be that an administrator puts Sam in his place and deal with him accordingly, but the likelihood of that happening is small. 
For the short term, Aaron’s approach may have some merit.


Your Questions for School Struggles, Learning Disabilities & Other Kid Stuff

2012 is well underway and we are about half way through the school year. I am sure that the year has already had its share of challenges.

As I think about topics to write about for the coming year, I am looking for input from you. What questions or concerns do you have?   What are the things that keep coming up for you that you would like a straight answer?
A percentage of future blogs will be devoted to responding to your questions, so that the material is meaningful to you.
Topics can be any that involving school struggles, assessment, treatment,  dyslexia, reading problems, educational interventions, 504 Plans, IEPs, special education, behavior, diagnoses, classification or anything related. Really anything under the umbrella of the scope of, “School Struggles, Learning Disabilities & Other Kid Stuff” is grist for the mill. If I can’t answer your question, I will do my best to find someone who can.
There are different ways to send in questions or comments:
      1)      Shut-Down Learner Website:  
Whenever questions come up, please feel free to send in questions and comments through the website:
             2)      Facebook:
Find Shut-Down Learner on Facebook. Click the “Like” to join the page. This is a great place to get information on a range of topics related to the ones of concern. Feel free to post questions and comments.
Here’s the shortened url:
3)      Follow @DrSelz on Twitter:
        If you enjoy Twitter, go to!/DrSelz to follow @DrSelz or search for Richard Selznick. Twitter  is          a great medium for posting brief questions.

               4) email:              

       You can also  go “old school” and email
Please don’t be shy. I’d love to hear from you to help steer some of the content of this site.
Hope everyone is off to a great New Year.



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