Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life at 1, 2, 3...

I am currently swamped at work. It's nearing the end of the semester, so I've been editing my honours students' theses, marking papers for one of my courses, and trying to complete a lecture on neuroeconomics. I haven't had much time to watch TV, but I wanted to alert you to a fantastic program that the ABC aired in the past two weeks, called "Life at 3." It's a documentary-style series about a group of eleven 3-year-olds who have been followed since birth. They are the public face of a much more comprehensive, longitudinal study of 10,000 Australian children that is being conducted by an excellent team of scientists. I have been a fan of the older British Up series, "7 Up," 35 Up," etc., which has followed a cohort of people since the early 1960s. There's also an American version that started more recently. But this Australian series is different in many ways. It is really focused on both increasing our understanding of, and teaching the public about, a wide range of developmental issues. For example, V. and I watched last week's episode on "Bad Behaviour." While that episode was telling the story of 5-6 children who differed in the ways they were handling stress in their lives at the age of 3, the narration was peppered by findings from the greater longitudinal study about individual differences in resiliency and what psychology knows about risk factors for later problems. Personally, I was gratified to see that our son is doing well by comparison, and that the form that his occasional tantrums takes is amazingly similar to that of some of the kids on the show. Unfortunately, it looks like the producers are only managing to put out two episodes a year (where's some big American money to produce another 20 episodes?!), so I will have to wait until next October for something more. In the meantime, you can watch the episodes on the ABC website.

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