Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review of Parenting, Inc.

Here is a book review of the book Parenting, Inc by Pamela Paul. I have not read the book, but it is on my reading list. I do agree with the author of the review about the direction our society has gone with media and toys, and I think this is a good refutation of marketing ploys by companies.

1 comment:

  1. I think there's so much in the review and in conversation like this that the material appears hostile in nature. I don't see the "reality" portrayed in stories like this where there's any benefit for parents getting free time.

    Historically speaking, the scale at which we as parents have to manage our time to keep our children fed and our lives somewhat manageable has been something near exponential since the industrial revolution. I can only assume that entropy has been introduced in the process of learning to parent and that having kids so occupied is a natural extension of us being busy ourselves.

    One could go even further down that road and blame consumerism and capitalism, but aren't those things just behaviors learned from something else? If there was some sort of apocalypse and we had to do it all over again, would we not end up exactly where we were before the event?

    Without trying to sound like Chomsky (actually, I think the idea coming is decidedly anti-Chomskian) or Darwin, could it be that there is something inherent in our language or genetics that makes us this way?

    Take for instance the Swedish word "Lagom" for which there is no direct translation. In a round about way, it means "just the right amount", but it can be applied to not only in a mathematical sense, but to ideas and consumption.

    A much more drastic example is the Pirahã tribe of South America. Their language completely lacks cardinal and ordinal numbers, colors, and other common descriptors. While this tangent has taken the comment into linguistic relativity theories, the main point is that whatever drives us to these ends is probably a lot more complicated than choice.

    But choice is what we have to decide on, what Montessori parents understand drives our little learners, and something to which adults should pay more attention. As adults however, it's often too late to realize how the choices we make effect our children before bad habits arise.

    There's one other Montessori ideal that has a particular relevancy to the over-stimulation problem -- the creation of the life-long learner. People who can satisfy their own curiosities as adults are more prone to do more research to raise more well adjusted children. Closing the gap between adults who can't ask questions bringing up children who don't is a daunting task, but a labor of love, and just knowing that there are people who give this topic serious thought gives me much hope for our, and their future.