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Do kids and teachers have different or skewed views of what's healthy?

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What's healthy when it comes to what children think of gender roles and genres of music styles? Kids think there are only men's work and women's work. In fact, in a new study, children believe the world is far more segregated by gender than it actually is, the latest study implies, according to a Michigan State University scholar and her team, reports a January 9, 2014 news release, "Kids have skewed view of gender segregation."

Jennifer Watling Neal and colleagues examined classroom friendships in five U.S. elementary schools. Their findings, published in the journal Child Development, found boys and girls had no problems being friends together but for some reason had a perception that only boys played with boys and girls played with girls.

“Kids believe gender plays a larger role in friendship that it actually does,” said Neal, assistant professor of psychology, according to the news release. Children who have more accurate perceptions of the social relationships around them may be better able to avoid conflict and have more positive interactions with their peers, Neal observed.

The findings also have implications when the students grow up

“In adulthood,” Neal said in the news release, “we know that people who have accurate perceptions of workplace relationships tend to be perceived as more powerful and have better reputations than their colleagues.”

The study of 426 second- through fourth-graders found gender is still important in the formation of friendships; children were nine times more likely to be friends if they were the same gender. However, when asked about their friends’ friends, a child was 50 times more likely to believe two classmates were friends when they were the same gender.

“Thus, while gender does matter a great deal in the formation of children’s friendships, children think it is nearly the only relevant factor,” Neal stated in the news release. What's the difference between school culture and corporate culture or pulling one's own weight legally in the real world over a lifetime and the type of music that best encourages concentration and focus? Her co-authors were Zachary P. Neal, MSU assistant professor of sociology, and Elise Cappella, associate professor of applied psychology at New York University.

Teachers may unfairly punish students interested in "hip-hop" music, dance, and creative or expressive arts

Black and Latino “hip-hop” students are disproportionately punished in urban schools, finds a two-year study that sheds light on some of the unfair disciplinary practices newly targeted by the Obama administration, says a January 10, 2014 news release from Michigan State University, "Hip-hop' students unfairly targeted, study finds."

Muhammad Khalifa, a Michigan State University assistant professor of education, found that students who identified with hip-hop culture were often removed from school because of their cultural behaviors and dress. His paper is published in the research journal Multicultural Learning and Teaching.

“School culture is very hostile toward hip-hop student identities,” said Khalifa, according to the news release. Khalifa is a former Detroit school teacher who identified with hip-hop culture as a young man. “Teachers possess an impulse to suspend or expel nontraditional students.”

On Jan. 8, 2014 the Obama administration issued federal guidelines urging schools to abandon zero tolerance policies that critics have long said discriminate against minority students

“In our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students,” the Justice and Education departments said in a letter to school districts. “In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”

While Khalifa’s study illustrated discrimination among minority hip-hop students, it also found a bright spot. One urban school principal allowed hip-hop students to exhibit their identities, while at the same modifying what he viewed as negative behaviors.

Ultimately, the low-performing students improved their academic performance

“We now know that it is possible for students to achieve great success, academic or otherwise, all the while keeping their hip-hop identities intact,” Khalifa said, according to the news release.

One question parents of any background may ask teachers and music therapists is why classical and ambient music is used in brain-training and brain technology classes that emphasize techniques to increase attention span and interest in school work. Some of these programs may be based on the idea of keeping your heart beat and brain waves in sync with the slow beat of the music, as in some classical and ambient type of music such as Mozart or music for relaxation and concentration. The main point is relaxation and calmness while studying, but at the same time alertness, motivation and concentration fostered by the music and beat, rather than simply putting you to sleep at the study desk.

Which types of music do you think best encourage concentration and achievement in school for kids who have to learn skills to become financially independent and able to make a helpful difference in any given community or the world? Every country moves to its own beat to do the best with what it has, even when it's a diverse nation. How can all students be treated equally, regardless of the type of music and arts they prefer or their choice in healthy foods?

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