Want Your Child to Become a “GREAT LEADER?” It’s So Easy… If You Have a Credit Card!

Inspire Your Child To Be a Great Thinker

That’s what it says on the email ad I got this week from One Step Ahead. I love the fact that if you just buy your kid some toys from them, your child will be not just a leader, but a “great” one!  And I guess if you give your kids an empty paper towel roll and a ball, they are destined for serfdom.

I mean, how can any child possibly come to dominate the world without his/her parents buying this $28 set of what looks like (but certainly couldn’t be!) plastic measuring cups like you’d find at any dollar store?

Or this computer thingy, another of the One Step Ahead toys that nearly guarantees a crown and scepter somewhere down the line?

Kids don’t go onto greatness just from, like, playing with sticks or organizing ball games, do they? I heard that Caesar’s mom bought his some stacking cups from One Step Ahead. And I once read that Napoleon’s mom got him the Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock, so he’d learn be on time for his battles. (It broke right before Elba.) Thanks to One Step Ahead, there’s a great leader born every minute!

…Or at least there’s Ssomething born every minute.  – L.

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47 Responses to Want Your Child to Become a “GREAT LEADER?” It’s So Easy… If You Have a Credit Card!

  1. Lyndsay January 25, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Moments after you have a child in this country, One Step Ahead finds you. I love to look at their catalog just to see how ridiculous they have gotten. Sure, I will admit to ordering from them once or twice (very small, UV blocking swimsuits are hard to find and my kids are very pale). But a lot of their products are ridiculous. Things like helmets and knee pads for crawlers. I recommend anyone looking for a laugh check out the website.

  2. Meagan January 25, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Aww that’s not do bad. Wouldn’t you rather marketers tell you buying their product will make your kid great rather than NOT buying their product will doom your child and possibly get them kidnapped? They exist to sell you plastic junk… at least this advertising is positive!

  3. Russell Phillips January 25, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    North Korea’s first leader, Kim Il Sung was known officially as The Great Leader. Maybe his mum bought him some stuff from One Step Ahead :)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Il-sung

  4. Becky January 25, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    people nowadays have forgotten that they were once children. did they have all these fancy gadgets and things when they were kids? unlikely. and how did they turn out? most of the time, the people that buy their overpriced junk are already successful, so i’d say they turned out well. but… how so when they didn’t have one step ahead to guide them? baffling.

  5. Becky January 25, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    i’ve been having such fun looking thru these products! my favs are Potty Time Reminder Watch for Kids (because i definitely want them to wear a tiny toilet on their arm), Tinkle Targets Potty Training Aid for Boys (i used cheerios – CLEARLY i was doing it wrong!), My Responsibility Reward Chart Wall Hanging (did you see? one of them says “Go Out for a Treat.” a very big responsibility) and Good Night Chore Cards (really? i mean… REALLY?!?!?) how did we EVAH survive without such essentials?!?!?!?

  6. Caro January 25, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    @Lyndsay “Moments after you have a child in this country, One Step Ahead finds you.”

    Best , truest observation ever. 😀 Thank you for making my morning.

  7. lollipoplover January 25, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Pouring and measuring can be taught with cups already existing in most kitchens.

    My oldest son woke up at the crack of dawn since birth. He was always hungry (still is). We taught him at age 3 to pour a bowl of cereal and had a smaller pitcher of milk always ready so he could make it himself, then go back to his room to play with his trains. He eventually learned how to pour a gallon of milk without spilling and now can make pancakes, eggs, and smoothies for the family for breakfast (he’s 11 now).
    I’d much rather have spilled pancake batter to clean up than whatever *non-toxic* green stuff is in the picture. At least I can eat a pancake.

  8. Warren January 25, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    This all goes back to those parents that firmly believe that everything in their child’s day must have some educational value, to it.

    I much prefered to find my daughter, 6 at the time, getting upset at the Food Network website. I woke up to find her getting frustrated, because they did not have the recipe she wanted. She was looking for a recipe for homemade dog treats, as one of our dogs was having a birthday the next day.

    My kids from the day their little hands could hold a measuring cup or wooden spoon, have been helping in the kitchen. When they mastered the basics, they had “free range” to attempt any recipe they wanted. Well almost, sometimes had to say no, because buying some truffle was not in the budget.

    There is also something amazing about walking into the living room, to find both your girls, on a Sunday morning, with all three dogs sitting with them on the floor, while the girls do their best to make the dogs understand the funny pages.

    I understand that the company is just trying to exploit those parents that have to have……………. And that’s fine.

    But hey let’s face it, how proud will Mom A be when her little darling rushes into the room, to show her that he measured a cup of green stuff. Follow by lollipop’s kid with the pancakes he made, and a line of other free range kids with their homemade dog treats, cookies, meatloaf and so on.

    We can have a free range potluck dinner, and they can stare at their cup of green stuff.

  9. Dave January 25, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Guilt motivates. Everyone wants to be a good parent and every parent wants their kids to succeed. Parenting is hard work and there are lots of variables that are out of the parents control. If there was only a product that would eliminate the struggle and guarantee success the guilt would go away. Hence plastic crap that calms our worst fears and reasonable priced as well.

  10. lollipoplover January 25, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    @Warren-
    My 6 yo makes dog buscuits all the time. Dogs don’t care if they make mistakes, they will happily eat them! Her best recipe: 2 mashed bananas, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 egg, 1 tbsp. honey, 1 cup wheat flour, 1/2 cup oatmeal, egg white to brush on top. Cut out 1/2 inch thick and bake 300 degrees. She puts an old beach towel down under where she rolls them out so she can just shake it outside to clean up.

  11. millse January 25, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    I have always thrown away childrens catalogues since I saw in one holiday copy a boy’s doctor white coat with “world’s greatest doctor” on it, and the girls version was pink scrubs with “nurse in training” written on it. Because not only do girls not get to be doctors, they don’t even get to be serious nurses! I’m not usually one to get upset about implied sexism, but since my sister is a doctor, and my daughter wants to be just like her aunt, I was irate. Much better to stick with one of Daddy’s t-shirts as a white coat so she can make up her own title instead of having stupid, outdated, sexist ideas thrust upon her by a children’s toy company.

  12. Nanci January 25, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    One Step Ahead is the worst! They sell the most ridiculous stay safe gadgets ever! I look through the magazine for a good laugh sometimes. I used to buy my kids swimsuits from them when they were little. I had melanoma at the age of 24 so that does put my kids in the high risk category and I wanted them fully covered. I was nice to have a place to get protective swimwear for my children who had a reason to need it. I’m sure there are some kids out there that could benefit from some of their products due to a specific problem, unfortunately parents who kids have no need whatsoever of these specialty things buy them just to keep their already safe child safer!

  13. Sarah in WA January 25, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I used to shake my head at the “Your Baby Can Read” commercials the same way many of us shake our heads at this catalog. I mean, I am a teacher, for goodness’ sake, and I thought it was way too pushy! I can see how some parents get caught up in all of the pressure to “do it right” and try to make everything perfect for their kids, but in reality too much of this stuff does the opposite.

    At least the measuring cups do offer some benefit and can be used in free play, but yeah, you don’t need to buy them from OSA. I dislike the over-computerization of kids’ toys these days. Yes, children will need to know how to use computers in adulthood, but they pick up on tech pretty quickly. I’m not worried about my kids in that regard even though I limit their screen time. My poor, deprived children don’t even have iPads! 😉

  14. Stephanie January 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Becky, it always amazes me when I meet moms of young boys who haven’t heard of the Cheerios trick for potty training. So easy and cheap!

    My kids must be deprived. I make them use my measuring cups if they need to measure something for real or for fun, and we don’t have a scale for them to check weights! Poor things. What kind of mom am I for trusting them with Pyrex measuring cups when then need to deal with larger amounts?

  15. Mike January 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Products used to be marketed, “if you don’t buy this item, your child will DIE!” Now it’s “if you don’t buy this item, your child WILL NOT SUCCEED!”

    Will it work? Historical evidence points to yes.

  16. missjanenc January 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Great leaders are born, not made, lol. Sorry, but poor little Kenny who can’t come out from behind his mama isn’t going to be the next Patton any time soon.

    And if this silly company is still in business, there are always new, gullible parents (the ones who will spend $10K on the “perfect” nursery)
    that will buy this crap, thus enabling these purveyors of pap to always stay “one step ahead.”

  17. Yan Seiner January 25, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    @missjanenc: Only $10K? Why, you’re ruining your child’s future! How dare you be so cheap!?

    Really caring parents pay $25K to make sure little Johnny goes to the best kindergarten!

    http://www.nypost.com/pagesixmag/issues/20081005/NYCs+Kindergarten+Wars#axzz2J19ofivw

    (in case anyone missed it, this is sarcastic. I think anyone who spends $25k on kindergarten is loony.)

  18. Heather P. January 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Not a commercial advertisement:
    Lands’ End has bathing suits that cover more than is typical: board shorts and rash guards (they look like T-shirts). Pretty sure they even had long sleeve ones.

    Speaking as a freckled redhead with freckled children, that’s what we’ve done along with “liquid shirt” type sunscreen.

    Not sure where pricing puts them in relation to OSA; at least you’re not paying for ridiculous toys too?

  19. Warren January 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I hope these new amazing toys come in a strong box, because if they are anything like my kids at that age……..
    the box will be played with more than the toys.

  20. Bec from Melbourne January 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    I think people buy kiddie cooking sets because they know it would be valuable to cook with their kids. They could cook with kids without kiddie cooking sets. And they may not actually make the time to patiently cook with kids even once they have kiddie cooking sets.

  21. Gina January 25, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I potty- trained my three boys by TELLING THEM TO PEE IN THE POTTY. No targets, not a cheerio in sight. They are now 15, 26 and 28. None are in diapers.

  22. Gina January 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    PS. ALL three were out of daytime diapers by the age of 2.

  23. Rachel January 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Can someone write up a guest post about the insidious advertising for ABCMouse next? Because I’m really getting tired of the “If your child can’t read by age two they will FAIL LIFE!” shtick.

  24. hineata January 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    @missjanenc – ah, but Winston Churchill was a mixed up mummy’s boy – or so we were always told!

    He was a member of the aristocracy, though – and I doubt that his mother bought anything from Step Ahead…..:-)

  25. Donald January 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Sales have been targeting the gullible for years. I remember when a brand of toothpaste or shampoo will get you a date. Another one that’s still being used is confidence and self esteem. They don’t need to be developed. (that’s too hard and takes too long) They can be purchased. Girls can buy bigger boobs and balding guys can buy hair. All that you need for success is to look the part. Buy expensive clothes or a flash car.

    “You must buy this if you want….” or “Unless you buy this, your worst fears will come true.”

    Did you know that unless you buy Kleenex toilet tissue with Gripples, your butt will stink so bad that a dog won’t want to play with you!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IwybxS4xNs

    I did have more to say but I don’t have time. I got an email that will sell me the secrets of how to get ANY woman that I want. GUARANTEED! This special offer expires in 10 minutes. (Now where is my credit card?)

    You can’t protect people from themselves. Unfortunately some will fall for this and drag their kids down. Credit cards are like beer. Don’t give it to kids before they know not to abuse it.

  26. Julie January 25, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    @Heather: I use rashguards (bathing suits shirts) with both my kids. My daughter is especially fair, but in both cases, it’s really nice to have the UV protection without the chemicals. Also, it’s an age-appropriate two-piece suit–especially handy with a preschooler! (I usually get mine at Target, though, so I don’t pay the Land’s End premium prices for something that’ll only be worn for three months.)

    Doesn’t mean everyone has to. But I like them.

  27. Bronte January 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Is it seriously so hard to find sunsafe swimsuits? Here in New Zealand SPF 50 is standard for children’s swimwear. Granted we do have the highest melanoma rates in the world, along with Australia.

  28. Jenna K. January 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    You know what’s interesting about the whole “reading early ” thing? Kids who read early often don’t excel much higher than their peers past 2nd or 3rd grade anyway. So even if little Johnny is reading at two that doesn’t mean he’ll get a perfect score on the SAT while his peers who read at six will get much lower.

    When I had my first baby, I had just stopped teaching school and I thought a lot of this stuff was so great. The more I parented, though, the more I realized that almost none of it is even helpful, much less necessary to learning and child development. A favorite “toy” around here is a stack of paper and a set of crayons and some tape and scissors and you’d be amazed at what my kids have created. They came up with a whole line of transformers made OUT OF PAPER. They’ve made board games too, completely out of paper. Oh, yeah, I won’t let them play Minecraft (for no other reason than we don’t have any device that has it besides the family computer), so they made their own Minecraft cubes OUT OF PAPER. We won’t buy any personal gaming devices for them, so what do they do? They make them out of paper, with little screens that they can slide in and out of them to represent the different “games” they play. I’m not sure how it keeps them entertained for hours (these are my 9 and 8-year-old boys) but it does, and even better than letting them play the real video games.

    Who needs any of that stuff when paper, crayons, tape and scissors are so accessible?

    Of course, I actually let my kids use scissors from when they are little. I guess some parents would find that way too dangerous.

  29. Lauren January 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Doh! I JUST bought the Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock. But not because I care if my kid learns to tell time. I just want him to stay in his freakin’ bed until the clock lights up green…

  30. Leppi January 26, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    Lauren,

    Egg timer works fine too, I tell my youngest, wen the clock/alarm peeps nap time is over. Works too.

    Although I should mention that he (4 yo) can not read yet, nor can he tell the clock and his academic horizon is very limited. But he can run very fast, ride his bike, throw stones very far, climb up high structures and get down, go to the toilet, feed and dress himself. So I believe there is still hope for him… :)

  31. Katie January 26, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    RE the bathing suits: I’ve invested in good ones from Hanna Anderssen. while they’re expensive, they’re appropriate and they LAST. I might need to buy my older son a new one this year, after he’s had 2 years out of his first one and my younger son will fit it this year. All kinds of stuff!

  32. gap.runner January 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Kids in Europe don’t learn their alphabet, or to read, until they’re 6 or 7 in first grade. But most European kids outscore American ones on international reading tests. Maybe there’s something to waiting until a child is developmentally ready to do read. In Europe there is not the big push to have your kids reading St. Augustine in the original Latin by their third birthdays.

    I have noticed on just about all children’s toys that they all have some sort of educational value or help with motor skills. Even a simple 99 cent ball is labelled as something that helps to improve your child’s motor coordination. It can’t just be a ball. In Europe toys are simply toys. There is no label that talks about the toy’s educational value.

    This is off topic, but I saw it in the New York Times online edition: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/helicopter-parents-make-children-miss-milestones/?src=recg

  33. Donna January 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    While I see nothing wrong with the products if that is what you want to spend your money on, I do find the everything-must-be-educational mentality ridiculous. But no more ridiculous than the “I only read serious literature,” “I only watch critically acclaimed television,” “I only go see movies worthy of academy awards,” “I only eat organic food with optimal nutritious value and never a sugar or chip shall cross my lips” attitudes that are prevalent among the college educated in the US. This is just an extension of that mentality that nothing can be enjoyed for fun and relaxation; everything must be thought-provoking, meaningful and healthy.

  34. Linda Wightman January 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    “Kids who read early often don’t excel much higher than their peers past 2nd or 3rd grade anyway. So even if little Johnny is reading at two that doesn’t mean he’ll get a perfect score on the SAT while his peers who read at six will get much lower.” Quite true, but I believe it’s a red herring here. Children do learn and grow unevenly, but a large factor in this “catch up phenomenon” is that by that point the kids have had at least three years of school behind them. In my experience schools are not so much interested in encouraging children to excel as they are in making sure they meet minimal standards. Children who can read before starting school simply do not get the instruction they need to keep growing in that area, because they’ve already met the goal. Plus, having a student whose reading is (say) at a sixth grade level while his math is at second grade and his age puts him in third — that really messes up the system.

  35. Sky January 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    “Kids in Europe don’t learn their alphabet, or to read, until they’re 6 or 7 in first grade. But most European kids outscore American ones on international reading testsBut most European kids outscore American ones on international reading tests.”

    No they don’t. Americans rank 6th in fourth grade reading, primarily falling below East Asian countries (as well as Canada). While Finland outranks the U.S. in reading, most European countries fall below. And then there’s the problem of sampling. These international tests are given only to samples. The American education system is far more integrated and far more culturally diverse than most education systems in the world, and America has a much higher proportion of disadvantaged social class groups (special education students, poor students, non-native speakers, etc.) in its school systems (and in the sample taking international test) than other countries do. When you control for socioeconomics among the samples, so that you are comparing apples to slightly different apples, instead of apples to oranges, Americans rank higher.
    That said, I do agree we should wait until age 6 or 7 to teach formal reading in school, primarily because reading ability varies especially widely in the early years, while nearly every kid is ready to read by age 7. Establishing high criteria for early reading causes kids to be identified as reading disabled and to eat up expensive resources when, really, some of them just need time (and less of the pressure that kills the love of learning). But I do think 5 is a good time to master the alphabet. Really, kids should not wait until 6 or 7 to identify letters, and I suspect they’ve learned their alphabet in Europe before age 6.

  36. hineata January 26, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    @sky- haven’t read the other comments above yours yet, but am interested in which test you are referring to? In the well-respected PISA tests ranking the OECD, which are administered to around 500,000 15 year olds, so 8th maybe, rather than 4th grade, the US is 17th. (2012).

    So, is early reading/learning leading to a drop-off in efficiency later on? The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Estonia, Belgium, Poland, Iceland and of course Finland all score better than the US, as do Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

    However, two kickers (at least). China, home of forced education, tops the rankings in all three disciplines tested (reading, math and science). The testing there appears to have only been done in Shanghai though, which possibly has better educational outcomes than, say, the interior. Singapore, though, also scores in the top five, and Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are also doing very well.

    And New Zealand begins reading instruction at age 5, not 7. So 15 year olds might be expected to have a year on students in the US.

    I am not sure, though, why the US would have a higher proportion of disadvantaged students in their samples than other countries , with the exception of maybe China, which appears to have diddled its stats, and Singapore, which is pretty much an advantaged nation overall. New Zealand and Australia both have many students from NESB backgrounds, and I believe the same is true of Canada. Other countries also have their poor, too.

    None of this, of course, has much to do with buying ridiculous toys from companies like One Step Ahead. Though I confess to getting caught up a bit in all that rubbish when I had the first. No. 3 just followed the others around while chewing on whatever was on the floor at the time, and she’s the brightest of the bunch….:-).

  37. Andy January 27, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    @Sky The part about European countries not including all kids into Pisa tests is a weird American myth. No, Europe does not kick poor kids out of school at the age of eight. All kids are included in tests, even those who are in non-academic tracks if country has one. It is true however, that USA has more poor students. That is demographic and social problem, not inclusion problem.

    @Linda Wightman Speed of development at young age does not correlate with “target intelligence” very much, but the capacity to learn grows a lot for an average kid. The kid slower at age 4 is likely to make bigger learning jump at the age of 7. Learning capacity jump of the faster learning kid may be smaller later on, so they end up equal.

    Ability to learn at 8 is so much bigger then the one at 4, that whatever advantage you have from learning few facts back then is irrelevant later on.

  38. Donna January 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    @hineata –

    15 would be 9th or 10th grade in the US. And kids in the US generally are taught reading at 5 too so no different than New Zealand.

    As for the Pisa test, if it is only administered to 500,000 students, how are those students chosen? By whom?

    As for disadvantaged students in samples, if the samples are a true reflection of society, we have more disadvantaged students in our samples because we have far more disadvantaged students in general.

    Our numbers go down between 4th grade and 9th/10th grade because disadvantaged students tend to lose interest in schooling as it progresses and the deficit is much more noticeable at 15 than at 8.

    The thing some might not understand about disadvantaged kids on the US is that their culture, particularly that of the largest group – black intercity housing project dwellers – is EXTREMELY anti-education. Kids who do well in school are told their acting white or uppity. Parents don’t help with studies or even make sure they bother to do homework or attend parent/teacher conferences. No reward is given for good work or negative consequence for bad.

    Our Georgia school was about 50% free lunch, almost all black innercity kids. A group of us were talking to the principal at one of the summer playgroups he hosts (the schools has an FABULOUS principal) about the problems in public schools in our city (we have a very high proportion of disadvantaged students for our size). He commented that all the students start school with a thirst for learning but he can see the light go out as they move through years of elementary school (4-10/11). Why work hard if you are actively discouraged from doing so and you are never going to college anyway? To be honest, if we go back to our hometown after we’re done here, my daughter will likely go to private school for middle school. I love my elementary school, but for middle school she would merge with several schools with close to 100% free lunch student body, many of whom have completely lost interest in school and are just disruptive.

    Because of this, our schools are much more likely to achieve better in 4th grade than 10th. Our kids read at approximately the level they were when they lost interest in school. If we starting losing kids between 3rd – 7th grade (8-12), they read at that level. Not in effect or noticeable at 4th grade but very evident by 10th.

    Combine that with the solely one track, college only based education system that discourages/bores students who are not geared towards college and the difficulties in educating a highly diverse population compared to the more homogenous populations you mentioned, and it is clear we will always do worse in the testing.

  39. Donna January 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    That should be “innercity,” not intercity. And “they’re acting white or uppity.”

  40. Donna January 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Understanding that other countries have their poor too, the entire population of Australia – which is larger than New Zealand’s population – is LESS than the number of people the US has living in poverty. Even based on percentage of population, our poor far outnumber yours.

    People in other countries seem to not quite grasp the behemoth that is the US. I was just in New Zealand. It may be somewhat larger than California in size but doesn’t have as large a population. And we still have 49 states after that. Australia and Canada are similar in size to the US but have a small fraction of the population. Even if we had a homogeneous population, there are difficulties in providing services to the huge masses not present in smaller countries. Add in the huge diversities of income, race, ethnicities, languages and it becomes a nightmare.

    Not saying that the US doesn’t need to improve it’s education system or that it shouldn’t look to other countries for ideas. It does and it absolutely should. There is just absolutely no simple conclusions or easy comparisons that can be made because comparing most other countries to the US is like comparing apples and oranges (frankly, I don’t think comparing one country to another has any real value at all since all countries have unique problems and advantages). The conclusion that European kids learn to read later and subsequently score higher on tests and therefore reading later is better is completely unfounded as there are a many reasons and no simple solutions as to why kids in the US score lower than their European counterparts.

  41. hineata January 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    @Donna – love discussing this sort of thing, and still have that silly leg in plaster (just spent the week hobbling around talking to other ‘educators’ so-called, so fired-up anyway, LOL!) so will add more ‘cents worth’. :-)

    We too have a population that all-too-often switches off at around the ages of 12-14, our Maori kids, especially boys. There is a document dedicated to this and what to do about it, Ka Hikitia. I can imagine that possibly First Nations kids do the same thing. (Certainly the pompous Canadian ass who lectured me on ‘real’ versus ‘false’ Maori, after a grand total of three weeks in the country, thought First Nations in Canada were). Ka Hikitia is not much more useful than you can imagine these sort of documents are, but it does indicate we have a similar problem with a similar proportion of our population (15%). Obviously not all Maori switch off, as not all African-Americans would, but too many do, and too many are caught in cycles of poverty. And at my school, anyway, and a lot of other lower decile schools, breakfast is provided for kids who want it. We don’t have cafes, so no free lunch officially, but we often butter bread and give muesli bars to kids without lunch – as well as those hollow legged kids who eat their lunch at morning tea.

    Agree with you about the size thing, though. As an example, being so much smaller, we can spread information much faster. Therefore if something is working well in education (or anything else) we can hear about it much faster. Same with anything going badly. (Whether anythng changes as a result varies, of course). Whereas I met a woman (a professor in education) from Arizona last week who didn’t even seem to be aware of work being carried out in her own state. And You Tube shows videos of teachers in another state ( I forget which one) where the children are now’ working together in groups’ and ‘the results are amazing!’ – rather than the traditional desks all facing the same way in rows. We haven’t had that arrangement in primary schools since the 1970s. Presumably the results of research take much longer to disseminate in the States.

    Not sure how exactly different countries pick the candidates for PISA, but the boy was 15 last year when the sample was taken at his high school. He wasn’t selected, but reports that everyone wondered what it was all about because, and I quote, ‘they picked some of the cabbages in our class’. Got to love teens, and wonder what the point of all our ‘sensitivity training’ is.

  42. catspaw73 January 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Donna, the length is deceptive, New Zealand is waaaay smaller then California, in fact New Zealand is about the same size as Colorado :-) Oh and we have a population of 4.4 million (or about the same as Louisiana’s). 😀

    Oh and statistics are not Hineatas strong point :-) But due to our welfare system/state housing/public health system you would have driven through areas where 90% of the population lives below the poverty line, its just hidden, and Hineatas views are slightly skewed by working in schools in these areas. Though our poverty levels are still a long way away from the US’s and we don’t have an extreme poverty problem.

  43. hineata January 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    @Catspaw73 – and apostrophes, daaarrrling, are not your’s, LOL! :-).

    Also I thought the pop was 4.2. Maybe the missing 200,000 are the hundreds of thousands of our children who supposedly get kidnapped every year – damn, why didn’t we notice? (Always thought I’d had four kids, not the three that regularly hang around now :-) ).

  44. catspaw73 January 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    It hit 4.4 million late last year darling. As I’ve previously stated to you, we were never taught punctuation or grammer at school :-)

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