Talk Topics

 

What Diane talks about


Diane speaks at professional conferences, schools, and to parent and community groups. She gives keynote addresses, interactive workshops and intensive trainings. Her topics range from sexualization of childhood, media literacy, and the meaning and development of play and war play, to conflict resolution and violence prevention.

Below are some sample talk titles and descriptions. Other topics are possible and talks can be adapted to meet the needs and interests of the sponsoring group.

To inquire about engaging Diane as a speaker, please contact her at dlevin@wheelock.edu.

PLAY: AN ENDANGERED SPECIES IN TODAY’S MEDIA-SATURATED AND COMMERCIALIZED WORLD

Play is vital to optimal social, emotional, physical and cognitive development in the early years. Yet there are many factors at work today that are robbing children of the full benefits of play—such as the time children spend in front of screens instead of playing and the many electronic, highly-structured toys linked to the media that take control of play away from children, and reduction of playtime in schools. This session explores different kinds of play, which kind of play is most likely to foster optimal learning and development, the forces at work in society that can undermine play today, and what we can do to promote quality play in these times.

Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Meeting the Needs of Children in a Media Saturated World

This session examines how today’s media saturated environment is contributing to remote-controlled childhood, influencing: 1. how children learn, and 2. what they learn, including lessons about gender roles, violence and consumerism. It will map out how this situation undermines development, learning and behavior; and, how it makes the job of teaching and parenting harder. It will also explore specific strategies teachers and parents can use to counteract remote-controlled childhood—i.e., to promote optimal development, learning and creative play as well as counteract the harmful lessons learned.

BEYOND REMOTE-CONTROLLED TEACHING AND LEARNING:
THE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OF PROMOTING OPTIMAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT IN TODAY’S MEDIA SATURATED WORLD

Today’s children are growing up in an environment saturated with media and technology that affects how they learn and what they learn. Many teaching practices from the past as well as the new mandates being imposed on early childhood practice do not adequately take the realities of today’s learners into account. This session will look at how today’s children learn and how can we adapt our teaching optimize their learning.

Participants in this session will learn about:
1. How key environmental factors in which today’s young children are growing up, especially the media, technology, and commercial culture, are affecting how children learn, and thereby making teaching and learning in school more difficult;
2. How these environmental factors are undermining creative play and learning through play, and the very foundation children need for later successful academic learning in school;
3. How the increasing pressure by state and federal policy makers to teach basic academic skills and use formal assessment methods at younger ages is exactly the opposite response that today’s media-influenced children need.
4. What we can do in and out of the classroom to counteract remote-controlled teaching and learning, and promote optimal development and learning at home, school and in the wider society.

TOUGH AT AN EARLY AGE: THE HARM CAUSED BY USING VIOLENCE TO MARKET TO CHILDREN

Ever since the deregulation era of the Eighties, violence has increasingly been used to capture children’s attention and get them to buy, buy, buy. Today’s boys are growing up in an environment saturated with enormous amounts of entertainment violence—a multibillion-dollar industry of TV shows, movies, video games, toys and other products all linked around a single violent theme. It is having an enormous impact on boys, families, schools, and society. This presentation will look at the nature of the problem, how it is harming boys and the kinds of societal responses that are needed to support children’s healthy development as we work for change.

FEMINISM LOST: THE HARM CAUSED BY THE USE OF SEX AND SEXUALIZATION TO MARKET TO CHILDREN

Today’s children are growing up in an environment saturated with images of sexual appearance and behavior that they cannot fully understand. From a young age, this environment undermines efforts to promote a broad range of non-stereotypical skills and competencies for girls and boys. It influences what both girls and boys think about being male and female, their bodies, what they want to be, do, and wear, and teaches harmful lessons about social behavior and relationships. It can promote eating disorders, low self esteem promote, precocious sexuality. Based on her book, So Sexy So Soon, Levin explores the current situation, how it is affecting children, and what we can do to promote healthy development as we work for change.

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND. OR IS IT? THE IMPACT OF WAR ON CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES

Children in the United States under age 10 have grown up with their country at war. After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, there were discussions about how it might affect children and how adults could talk to them about it. Now, years have passed without widespread public discussion about the impact of the wars on children, the lessons they are learning, or what adults should do. This session explores how to deal with the impact of the wars on children—both children with a parent in the military who has been deployed as well as on all the nation’s children who know their country is at war. It also looks at how the ever—expanding cost of war contributes to inadequate funding for domestic programs—undermining the social and economic fabric of society and impacting the lives of many children, particularly the most needy.

SO SEXY, SO SOON: THE NEW SEXUALIZED CHILDHOOD & WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

Today’s children are growing up in an environment saturated with images of sexual appearance and behavior that they cannot fully understand. It can influence how they think about being male and female, their bodies, and what they want to be, do, and wear. It can confuse children about the nature of adult relationships and promote precocious sexuality. Based on her new book, So Sexy So Soon, Dr. Levin explores the current situation, how it is affecting children, and what we can do to promote healthy development in these times.

BUY, BUY CHILDHOOD: HOW MEDIA & MARKETING AFFECT CHILDREN IN SCHOOL

Media and commercial culture influences most aspects of who today’s children are in classrooms and in school—from how and what they learn, to the nature of their relationships with teachers and peers, to how they solve their conflicts, to what they eat and how they want to look. Diane Levin will explore the challenges media and commercial culture creates for us in our work with children and show how we need to adapt current approaches to take into account the ways commercialism is changing childhood.

WHEN THE WORLD IS A DANGEROUS PLACE: BUILDING PEACEABLE CLASSROOMS IN VIOLENT TIMES

Children are growing up in a world permeated by violence—in their immediate lives and in media and toys. It affects what they learn about the world and how people treat each other. Too often we feel inadequately prepared for helping children deal with or learn alternatives to the violence they see. Using stories from teachers and parents about children’s responses to violence collected for her book, Teaching Young Children in Violent Times, Dr. Levin examines how young children are affected by entertainment, news and real world violence and the challenges this creates for us in our work with them. It also outlines positive, developmentally sound strategies for building peaceful classrooms that counteract the harmful effects of violence.

THE WAR PLAY DILEMMA: WHAT THE PROBLEM & WHAT PARENTS & TEACHERS CAN DO ABOUT IT

War play seems to have a special appeal to many children, especially boys. Adults often worry about the impact this play has on children’s developing behavior and ideas about violence. Based Dr. Levin’s work for her book, The War Play Dilemma, this session looks at why the play is so appealing to children, how the barrage of violence in contemporary media and the real world affects war play, and what parents and teachers can do to meet children’s needs and influence the lessons children learn about violence. It helps participants work on connecting the content of the session to their own experiences with children’s war play.

PROBLEM SOLVING DEFICIT DISORDER: HOW CHILDREN GET IT AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Problem solving is a cumulative skill that gives children a sense of inner power. Knowing how to find and solve interesting problems is central to all aspects of learning. Many factors in the lives of children growing up today—such as media, commercialism, highly structured toys, the decline of play and a growing emphasis on prescribed academic skill based curriculum in schools—can undermine creative problem solving ability. As a result, many children are developing what Diane Levin calls “Problem Solving Deficit Disorder” (PSDD). Metaphorically speaking, PSDD can lead to many symptoms in children, including frequent boredom, a lack of creativity, imagination and open-ended play, and difficulty working cooperatively with others or resolving conflicts without aggression. It can lead to more stress for everyone at home and at school. Learn more about the causes of PSDD and the many powerful ways you can counteract it at home and school and in the wider society. And learn why doing so will lead to smarter, happier children.

PLAY: AN ENDANGERED SPECIES?

Play is vital to optimal social, emotional, physical and cognitive development in the early years. Yet there are many factors at work today that are robbing children of the full benefits of play—such as the time children spend in front of a screen instead of playing, the many electronic and highly structured toys linked to the media that take control of play away from children, and the pressure in schools from the youngest ages to focus on early teaching of basic skills and test scores rather than on establishing a healthy foundation for learning through play. This session explores the many forces at work in today’s society that are endangering play, how endangering children’s play can undermine their optimal learning and development, and what we can do to promote healthy play in these times.

ANTI-BIAS EDUCATION: HELPING CHILDREN UNDERSTAND AND VALUE DIVERSITY

How do children’s ideas about similarities and differences among people develop? Using examples from children, teachers, and the wider community, we will explore: How does what children see and hear at home, in the media and popular culture, and in the wider community affect what they learn about gender, race, class, ethnic groups, and religion? How does it affect their attitudes and behavior and how they deal with differences among people? How does what they learn contribute to violence or non-violence? What can families and schools do to promote an appreciation of diversity? How can our work on these issues promote a more peaceful and just world? We will look at specific strategies for counteracting stereotypes and infusing anti-bias education in the home and school.

TOY STORY: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO MAKING GOOD TOY CHOICES

The toy choices parents make can have a big impact on their children’s play, development, and learning. And it gets harder and harder for parents to sort through the onslaught of new toys and seductive advertising that assail them and their children. This presentation will look at why play is important and how toys influence play. It will help parents choose toys that promote constructive play and match their children’s interests and development. It will also provide suggestions about how to resist the commercial pressure while keeping peace in the family.