Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
Creative argument

Researchers at McGill University in Canada suggest that parents who have blazing rows in front of their children may inadvertently be making them more creative than those raised in harmonious surroundings. "If your parents disagree a lot, you have to be very good at seeing different perspectives. And you have to be good at tolerating ambiguity and differences," said Richard Koestner, the study's author.

The research was published in the current issue of the Journal of Research in Personality. Using data from a US project from the 1950s, the Canadian team assessed the home lives of more than 300 pre-school children and their parents' child-rearing practices. As 31 year-old adults, they were asked to write creative stories. Those raised with parental conflict were more verbally and artistically creative.

Learning by numbers

New evidence from Arizona suggests that big universities really do treat their students like numbers. The parents of Truman Bradley, a prospective Arizona State University student, recently received a letter from the school that began: "Congratulations on 987-65-4321's admission." The letter, addressed to Truman's father, Jeff, added that, as a parent: "You will be a partner with the university in encouraging 987-65-4321 to succeed."

The father's reply: "Thank you for offering our son, 987-65-4321, or as we affectionately refer to him - 987 - a position in the ASU class of 2003. His mother, 123-45-6MOM, and I are very happy."

Tim Desch, director of undergraduate admissions, said the impersonal letter was a glitch in a batch of several thousand letters sent to prospective students. Social Security numbers were picked up instead of the name in the first five.

Grade point averages

Everyone has heard of special schools for gifted and for slower students. Now a school board in California is considering a school for the so- so. The Millennium Secondary School would focus on C-average students. "It's aimed for the kid in the middle who doesn't make a connection, and who becomes unmotivated," said Pat Levens, executive director of secondary instruction for the Capistrano Unified School District. "This is going to require strong marketing."