Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving in Elk Ridge, Utah

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I am down here in Katie's house right now. (Katie's one of my roommies.) It's been a pretty fun week. One and a half days 'til we go home. I'm just going to recap some of the things that have been happening.

Thanksgiving was fun. Lots of food, mostly familiar, some new. Katie's grandmother is from Louisiana so her mom puts on more of a southern Thanksgiving, but it still has all the essentials of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and of course, turkey! She made some of the best sweet potatoes I have ever had in my life! They were covered with a praline-type topping. (Mum, you're gonna love it! I'm getting the recipe.) Yeah, it was good. I made an apple pie, which 11-year old Bonnie helped me with. It came out beautifully! And man, it tasted so good. Katie asked me to make something that is more what we have. (I automatically thought of oyster-stuffing, but decided that with two kinds already, that would just be detracting from the meal.) So I made something I have always liked, and must be by far the easiest of all the dishes: peas and sweet onions in cream. I've never made them before, and wasn't sure if it was really cream, or what the real name of the onions were, so I just went by what looked right. (Dutch onions. Crazy.) I just emptied the peas and onions into a dish, stuck 'em in the microwave for 10 minutes, poured 1/2&1/2 over them, warmed them up again, and stuck them on the table. Everyone really liked them. I was like, well, it's not like it's really hard or anything.

A lot of the time I spend with Katie, her 17-year old bro. Matt, and all of their mutual buddies. The boys are hillarious. I was sitting in the back of the car with Matt, Brad, and Cloward, and Matt starts "singing" along to some techno song on the radio. He was making one noise, so Brad and Cloward joined in with the harmonizing noises. I just sat there and thought, "Wow, I'm in the back seat of a car in Utah with Levi, Todd, and Lincoln." That's exactly what it was like. I was even cracking up like I would with those guys. It was fun.

Earlier tonight, 13 of us went to play lasertag in Provo. It was so much fun. The first game was kind of lame 'cause we were mixed with another group, and they had these little kids (like 10-13 year olds) that just would not play fair. They kept taking off their vests and putting them under their shirts so that the sensors couldn't be hit. Or covering your guns if you were in close-combat. It was lame. The second game was just with us and other people from our first team (that we didn't know, but at least they were cool). It was pretty fun. I accidentally hit Kevin right in the eye. Yeah... that was embarrassing. Oh well.

All us ladies of the house of Shallenberger went to Pudding on the Rice (obviously a rice pudding place) which really impressed me. It was way good! (The amarretto... amazing!) Then to Pirates of the Carribean 2. Not an Oscar-winner, the writing needed some boosting, but at least it sets us all up quite nicely for the third one. Besides, Johnny Depp is way too good an actor to let a little thing like mediocre writing get in the way of entertainment.

All in all it's been pretty fun. Yeah, I wish I was home with my family for Thanksgiving, but the Shallenbergers have been good to me. They've got a house full of 7 kids (all with varying degrees of ADHD... and I'm not kidding - each one is diagnosed) so it's kind of crazy. But they're a good family, and are full of hospitality!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

How Environment Effects Theory-Theories

The following is a journal entry for Sister Edwards' Child Development class.

Eden is seven years old, and has lived on the Micronesian island of Saipan since she was about eighteen months old. Her family is from an island off the coast of Maine, a place of which she has no recollection. Her seven older brothers and sisters, for the most part, remember things such as altering seasons, Atlantic wildlife, and pine trees. To watch Eden's cognitive development has always been amazing to me because of the very differen experiences we have had thus far. She and I are very much alike in personality and looks, and yet her understanding of certain concepts during the preoperational period (between the ages of two and six) were relatively different from my own during that stage.

Allow me to use the concept of celestial orbits as an example for the cognitive development of Eden and I. Growing up with television, I can only imagine that my understanding of sunrise and sunset at the age of four was based off of what Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood portrayed - something about personifying the sun with sensations such as sleepiness. Eden on the other hand has never had television in her childhood, and therefore took what she knew of the environment in which she lived (continual summer, Pacific wildlife, and palm trees) and ran with it.

When my younger brother asked my dad what happened to the sun when it went down (he was, at the time, about six years old) Eden (four) piped in with this answer: "At nighttime the sun falls into the water and in the morning the dolphins push it back up into the sky again." Simple, to the point, and completely irrational. Although Eden had, what was in her mind a very clear theory of the sun's ratation, there really was no support whatsoever for her to thing the way she did on the topic. I never would have thought of dolphins simply because although I knew what dolphins were, they were not in my immediate environment as they are in hers.

Now when Eden is asked about how the sun works, she uses a much more reasonable explanation. (It is interesting to note that, even though she's a great deal closer to the truth, she is much less sure of herself.) The interview follows:

Me: "Can you tell me how the sun works?"
Eden: "What do you mean?"
Me: "At night, when the sun goes away, where does it go?"
Eden: "I know it stays in one place, and it shinies."
Me: "That's excellent! But where does it go when it's dark outside?"
Eden: "Well, the moon goes around the earth."
Me: "The moon goes around the earth, okay. That's good. Now what does the earth do?"
Eden: "It, uhhh... I think it goes around the sun. Or something like that."
Me: "You're right! Does that make it dark?"
Eden: "It's dark, uhhh, because, uhhh, I think because the earth goes away from the sun."

Even though Eden doesn't fully comprehend the spinning motions of the earth, she does know orbits take place and even which bodies orbit around which. In three years, and very little formal schooling, she has been able to readjust her thinking in a more logical way.