Monday, May 23, 2005

When Baby Einstein Bites

Today is my son’s 9th birthday. He asked to open his presents at the hour he was born…sure, as long as I can sleep in. He’s been up since 5:30 this morning, building and playing with his new Star Wars lego and Bionicle characters. The kid can spend 8 hours focused on this kind of play…but can he focus for ten minutes on writing one thank you card to his grand mother? Not on your life! Not because he’s a bad kid, or a stupid kid, or a defiant kid…but simply because he’s a kid!

Which leads me to today’s post and the terribly sad story that ran in yesterday’s New York Times Week in Review about toddlers being kicked out pre-school. (If you want to read the full article, visit it soon – it won’t be free for long!)

Basically, in the USA, six in every thousand wee tykes is being kicked out of pre-school for bad behaviour. That’s about one in every 167 toddlers. The journalist does a great job of pointing the finger almost at the right culprit: it’s not the kids’ fault, nor the parents. She blames the daycare structure and too much emphasis on teaching kids marketable skills (like how to read and write) at too young an age.

I’d go one step back and blame some bigger societal structures and, maybe even, US-style capitalism… daycares are just responding to what the marketplace has convinced parents to want. Parents want what is best for their kids. And I’m thinking with all the Baby Einstein products available now, that parents have been hoodwinked into believing that a kid’s academic achievements are more important than their social skills, emotional intelligence, self-esteem…and we wonder why 11 million American children are taking antidepressants?

I am lucky that my sweet son is naturally inclined to being “good in school” even without effort on his part. It has allowed me to feel totally comfortable with pulling him from classes for a week, every year around this time, to live among activists on a small island, to absorb intangibles like passion for a belief, commitment to a cause, and connection of self to earth. Knowledge that’s hard to pick up in a classroom but, I believe, critical to being a well-rounded and happy person.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shattering wrote about the journalist that blames the daycare structure...

Similarly, this large anti - daycare website isn't too keen on daycares...

June 01, 2005  

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