Are Middle Children now in the minority?

by honolulu mother

There have been a few articles recently pointing out that most people were middle children through most of history, but they’ve become a shrinking minority.  Here’s one article from NYMag:

As far as why this might matter, the gist of the argument is this:
[T]he more you learn about the skills of classic middle children — peacemakers, risk takers, levelheaded loyalists with expansive friend groups — the more middle children seem essential to our survival. Salmon cites “independence and resilience” as “characteristics I’d hate to see disappear in a future population of only small families — especially at a time when our world so needs these particular skills.”
For what it’s worth, I also ran across an article (that I didn’t bookmark and don’t have to hand) that dug into whether it’s true that middle children are disappearing, criticized the various statistical assumptions made, tore apart the reasoning, but ultimately concluded that yes, middle children really have become an endangered group compared to historical norms.
But does it matter?  Do you buy the reasoning that middle children are shaped by their middleness in important ways that make them a group with interpersonal skills the rest of us need?  As an oldest, I am of course dubious, but I have to say the middles I know, including my sister and daughter, fit the classic middle child description.
Are you a middle or are you close to a middle?  Are we losing something as middle children slowly vanish from the population at large?
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Air Conditioning in Schools

by honolulu mother

My older son pointed me to this paper on Heat and Learning, which as the abstract explains suggests that hot classrooms contribute substantially to difference in academic performances across regions and socioeconomic groups, and that air conditioning classrooms is a solution:
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We provide the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect. Student fixed effects models using 10 million PSAT-takers show that hotter school days in the year prior to the test reduce learning, with extreme heat being particularly damaging and larger effects for low income and minority students. Weekend and summer heat has little impact and the effect is not explained by pollution or local economic shocks, suggesting heat directly reduces the productivity of learning inputs. New data providing the first measures of school-level air conditioning penetration across the US suggest such infrastructure almost entirely offsets these effects. Without air conditioning, each 1° F increase in school year temperature reduces the amount learned that year by one percent. Our estimates imply that the benefits of school air conditioning likely outweigh the costs in most of the US, particularly given future predicted climate change.

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My son fully agrees that non-air-conditioned classrooms impede learning — most classrooms at the high school he recently graduated from, and that his younger siblings still attend, are not air conditioned.  In fact, lack of air conditioning is problem for Hawaii’s public schools generally, and despite efforts to get air conditioning into more classrooms the expense of doing so has limited its spread.
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Have you, or your children, had experience trying to learn in hot classrooms?  Do you agree that it makes it significantly more difficult to learn?  And, do you think air conditioning should be considered an essential part of school infrastructure?

I thought everybody did that!

by honolulu mother

This article (post?) lists things that various people who grew up wealthy assumed everyone did, only to learn in college or early adulthood that they were not typical.  A couple of them (11 and 13) seem more like signs of being financially secure rather than wealthy as such, but it’s still an interesting list and an amusing thing to think about.

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What things did you think were standard, as a child, only to later learn they were particular to your family or some other particular group?  I’m not limiting this to things reflective of family money — count in the military brats accustomed to PCSing every few years, the small towners accustomed to everyone being fixated on the preferred local sport, the professor kids thinking everyone’s parents have PhDs.