stone barns center for food and agriculture | Nature Times

“This is the first joint Rockefeller State Park Preserve-Stone Barns Center experiment aimed at improving landscape health and ecosystem function.  It is also a potential strategy for increasing access to land for beginning farmers.  Chris O’Blenness is representative of beginning farmers and ranchers who are searching for land to work. This type of symbiotic grazing arrangement on public lands is a potential model for other public lands that can offer beginning farmers affordable opportunities for land access—all while performing a vital public service and delighting Preserve visitors.”

Post and photos by Susan Antenen, Rockefeller State Park Preserve Manager.

Source: stone barns center for food and agriculture | Nature Times

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Breaking Down Our Bilingual Double Standard | GOOD

“Speaking at least two languages is known to improve multitasking and problem-solving skills, lead to greater future job opportunities, reduce once’s risk for dementia in later years, and give children insight into other cultures as they explore different cultural identities within themselves. And when a privileged child enriches her education by adding a second language—known as “additive bilingualism”—it’s generally acknowledged to be a positive, even prestigious, endeavor. But this isn’t the case when it comes to “subtractive bilingualism,” when a new language supplants the language spoken at home.” Read more of the article by Karen Emslie here.

Source: Breaking Down Our Bilingual Double Standard | GOOD.

Language study: Johnson: What is a foreign language worth? | The Economist

“…changes in educational structures can have dynamic effects on entire economies. A list of the richest countries in the world is dominated by open, trade-driven economies. Oil economies aside, the top 10 includes countries where trilingualism is typical, like Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore, and small countries like the Scandinavian ones, where English knowledge is excellent.

There are of course many reasons that such countries are rich. But a willingness to learn about export markets, and their languages, is a plausible candidate. One study, led byJames Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School, has estimated that lack of foreign-language proficiency in Britain costs the economy £48 billion ($80 billion), or 3.5% of GDP, each year. Even if that number is high, the cost of assuming that foreign customers will learn your language, and never bothering to learn theirs, is certainly a lot greater than zero. So if Mr Saiz had run his language-premium study against a parallel-universe America, in which the last half-century had been a golden age of language-learning, he might have found a bigger foreign-language bonus (and a bigger GDP pie to divide) in that more open and export-oriented fantasy America. And of course greater investment in foreign-language teaching would have other dynamic effects: more and better teachers and materials, plus a cultural premium on multilingualism, means more people will actually master a language, rather than wasting several years never getting past la plume de ma tante, as happens in Britain and America.”

Source: Language study: Johnson: What is a foreign language worth? | The Economist.

When Yogurt Affects the Brain | The Atlantic

Our gastrointestinal tracts teem with tens of thousands of species of bacteria. These germs are already known to help regulate the digestive process and to play a role in weight and food cravings. Some scientists are finding, though, that these same microbes can also alter our brain chemistry. Just how this happens is still being figured out, but one pathway might be the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach. The bacteria stimulate the vagus nerve, and that, in turn, stimulates the production of various neurotransmitters—the brain chemicals that partly determine what we think and how we feel.”

Source: When Yogurt Affects the Brain — The Atlantic by OLGA KHAZAN.

How to Parent Like a German | TIME

“The first time I went to a playground in Berlin, I freaked. All the German parents were huddled together, drinking coffee, not paying attention to their children who were hanging off a wooden dragon 20 feet above a sand pit. Where were the piles of soft padded foam? The liability notices? The personal injury lawyers? […]

Here are a few surprising things Berlin parents do:

Don’t push reading. Berlin’s kindergartens or “kitas” don’t emphasize academics. In fact, teachers and other parents discouraged me from teaching my children to read. I was told it was something special the kids learn together when they start grade school. Kindergarten was a time for play and social learning. But even in first grade, academics aren’t pushed very hard. Our grade school provides a half-day of instruction interrupted by two (two!) outdoor recesses. But don’t think this relaxed approach means a poor education: According to a 2012 assessment by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, German 15-year-olds perform well above the international average when it comes to reading, math and science while their more pressured American counterparts lag behind. […] Continue reading “How to Parent Like a German | TIME”

Americans suffer from inadequate foreign language education | The Daily Texan

“The United States is largely monolingual. In fact, only about 15-20 percent of Americans consider themselves bilingual, compared to 56 percent of Europeans surveyed in 2006 by the European Commission. […]

The United States used to take a much friendlier view toward bilingualism. In the 19th century, immigrant communities maintained — and even published in — their native languages, and educational policies were generally tolerant of this linguistic diversity. However, ideologies began to change in the 1880s, with a huge influx of non-English-speaking immigrants and developing reactionary nationalist movements. Eventually, this change in ideology led to a movement of “Americanization,” which adopted a push for English as a linguistic identifier of the “American.” As World War I raged, English monolingualism became synonymous with support for the U.S. Eventually, legislation removed foreign language instruction from most elementary schools.

This lack of foreign language education for children persists to this day, despite much research suggesting that bilingualism has a significant positive effect on children’s linguistic, cognitive and educational development. The benefits of bilingualism are not just cognitive: Hebrew professor Adi Raz said that knowledge of a foreign language provides huge cultural benefits.

“We don’t just teach language but also culture. By doing so we emphasize the importance of understanding the ‘other,’” Raz said.

[…] Although there may be no quick fix for the poor motivation and lack of interest in foreign language courses on campus, we are the future leaders, legislators and teachers who can make a difference in the way language is taught in the United States.”

[Lauren] Franklin is a Plan II, linguistics and Middle Eastern languages and cultures senior from Sugar Land. 

Source: Americans suffer from inadequate foreign language education by Lauren Franklin | The Daily Texan.