Friday, June 10, 2011

Unequal Childhoods - Class, Race and Family Life

Good morning from Tokyo!

For some reason, I got up extra early this morning which is very different from yesterday, when I could barely drag myself out of bed! I'm not sure if it is jet lag, because it was inconsistent.

It was too early for breakfast so I spent the next hour or so lying in bed, thinking and reflecting. I thought about the book I had finished yesterday,

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life

and how it clashes with a previous book I read

Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

and also how is it relevant to these books that I also read The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition)

and The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had

which was the root of my Education section on elegantwoman.org

Baby ballet - a recent phenomenon. 


In short, Annette Lareau, author of unequal childhoods concluded that children whose schedules are jam-packed with activities have a brighter future than those just 'left to their own devices' to grow up naturally in society today.

DESPITE the observations that the privileged children seem to be more self-centered, entitled and mean (to their siblings). AND also that they spend more time questioning and challenging authority (parents, teachers etc) and the tremendous economic burdens and time constraints their classes and grueling schedule is placed on their family, namely parents.

Why? It is because employers view a child learning and benefiting more from soccer practice than watching two hours of television (just to summarize).

The book is not quite what I expected. It is essentially a study of about eighty families from a variety of economic background from the poor, working class and middle class. Annette basically describes the house, the home, income, how the kids and family spent their time, school, relationships between the school, church, siblings and parents, teachers, peers, neighbours etc etc. So I've pretty much spent most of my time reading about how families live with a couple of comparisions at each concluding paragraph. The real juice is probably the last chapter; chapter 12 "The Power of Limits of Social Class" where it concludes the study and findings.

To me, the most interesting part of the book is its statement that up until recently ... well, the period after 1920 was a dramatic decline in the economic contribution of children. In the past, children were seen as someone who contributes to the family in terms of work for example, farm hands, flower picking, tag tying, baby sitting. In colonial America, a boy of 6 and 7 was expected to move out of his parents home to live with a skilled craftsman as an apprentice (like in Great Expectations).

Children working in the garden.


She writes (shortened):
...it appears that it was for only a relatively brief historical period that children were granted long stretches of leisure time with unstructured play. In the period after world war 2, children were permitted to play for hours on end. Other than going to church, few organized activities children participated began at a later age than is typical today. The "institutionalization of children's leisure" and the rise of concerted cultivation more generally are recently developments"

Hmmm.... my conclusion?

I'm generally a big fan of education. Though that is a recent statement for me because I've only changed my view of education about maybe 2-5 years ago. While I was in the education system, I was more interested in other intelligences and felt that academia was too rigid, recognizes only 2-3 out of the 10-15 types of intelligences and stifles creativity. I never believed in papers (read certificates) as well though I have some (haha).

After reading the book, I would say my education style - or the approach I was brought up in - was definitely poor or working class. I was left to my own devices and allowed to play as much as I wanted all the time. However, I was also privileged enough to attend ballet, piano, art, swimming classes though I never took them seriously. My mother had never withheld books from me. I was a bookworm. I believe in my time, a child's life was not as serious as it is now.

Personally, I felt my real education began too late. I would think that maybe it started when I was about 17-19? But I only stepped it up maybe a year or two ago. I constantly find myself playing the game of catch up.

Though I don't have children yet, I was reading these books for work and interest trying to figure out why people I admire behave the way they do...as well as writing for elegantwoman.org.

I think, exposure and environment and positivity and having role models are some of the most important in raising a child and anyone can make it work within whatever economic budget. Of course, it will be easier with a larger budget. However, I do not believe in jam packing schedules that makes the child dependent on being spoon-fed and easily bored requiring the parent to entertain or conjure some activity for him. Of course, this is a very watered down version of my opinion because it would be a couple of pages if I wrote completely what I thought.

Hmmm. Thanks for your company on this blogpost. I think it's time to drag Colin out of bed for breakfast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Shouldn't Accept All Thoughts As Our Own

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Interesting Read About "Classical Education"

Stumbled upon this story, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior"

Well they are not, but I understand what the author is talking about because of my Asian background.

Enjoy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teaching Phonics

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching ReadingThe Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading

I used to learn them in my convent school by my British teacher.

I did not realize then, that learning Phonics wasn't the norm.

It was fun. I have fond memories of learning them.

Use explode the code as a companion workbook.

Classic Literature Audio Books For Starters

1. Just So Stories (Classic Books on CD Collection) [UNABRIDGED] (Classics on CD)

From Publisher's Weekly
The graceful prose and pungent humor of these 12 tall tales (which include such favorites as "How the Camel Got His Hump" and "The Elephant's Child") place them in the same league with such children's classics as Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland. Kipling's verbal dexterity remains audible over time--even the openings of his fantastic fictions hark to a golden age of storytelling. Frampton's elegant, elaborately detailed woodcuts are attractive embellishments to this hefty 122-page collection. Stylistically, however, they are perhaps more suited to the tastes of adults than children, as they are neither as colorful nor as playful as the stories. They do not reach out and hook the audience in the distinctive, visually arresting manner needed to keep pace with this eminent author's topsy-turvy logic.

2. The Jungle Book (Classic Books on CD Collection) [UNABRIDGED] (Classics on CD)

Review
Collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1894. The Second Jungle Book, published in 1895, contains stories linked by poems. The stories tell mostly of Mowgli, an Indian boy who is raised by wolves from infancy and who learns self-sufficiency and wisdom from the jungle animals. The book describes the social life of the wolf pack and, more fancifully, the justice and natural order of life in the jungle. Among the animals whose tales are related in the work are Akela the wolf; Baloo the brown bear; Shere Khan, the boastful Bengal tiger who is Mowgli's enemy; Kaa the python; Bagheera the panther; and Rikki-tikki-tavi the mongoose

3. Audio books by edith nesbit are recommended and supposed to be very good.

4. The rest I've tried to make it accessible for both you and me to explore/


J.M.Barrie's Peter PanCharlotte's Web

 The Chronicles of Narnia: Never Has the Magic Been So Real (Radio Theatre) [Full Cast Drama]The Trumpet of the Swan (4 CD Set)A Little Princess Dickens: A Christmas Carol

Excuse the weird formatting. I'm not very good with Blogger's new editor.

General Preschool Learning

Though this not exactly 'classical education', this prepares a child for kindergarten right from the start.

It is a book that guides you what to do from birth to age 5.

This is not a 'school resource', for example, week 1 begins with exercising the newborn's ams and legs. It actually sounds fun. :)

The Social Network and Classical Education

I just watched the Facebook movie, The Social Network and was thoroughly inspired.


What was more inspiring to me is that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook is classically trained.

I don't know much, but from what I've read and researched, it didn't seem that he was home-schooled, a more common source of classical education.

I have sifted out my favourite quotes about the effects of his classical education from this article in the New Yorker,

Mark was not a stereotypical geek-klutz. At Exeter, he became captain of the fencing team. He earned a diploma in classics. But computers were always central.

On the phone, Zuckerberg tried to remember the Latin of particular verses. Later that night, he IM’d to tell me two phrases he remembered, giving me the Latin and then the English: “fortune favors the bold” and “a nation/empire without bound.”
Before I could point out how oddly applicable those lines might be to his current ambitions, he typed back:

again though
these are the most famous quotes in the aeneid
not anything particular that i found. ♦



Zuckerberg cites “Minimalism,” “Revolutions,” and “Eliminating Desire” as interests.