Thursday, May 29, 2008

Overprotection

Or, as the title of the book review so aptly puts it: "Moppets With Helmets." Tony Woodlief critiques the book "A Nation of Wimps" by Hara Estroff Marano (what a mouthful!), who, in addition to speaking against "invasive parenting" in the common "helicopter-mom" sense, also lumps with that group "parents who don't send their children off to sleepaway summer camps...those nutty home-schoolers...women professionals who choose to be stay-at-home moms while their children are young and parents who prefer not to hand their infants over to a daycare center...cellphones, and globalization and American individualism."

In other words, "The problem is that Ms. Marano brings a bazooka to a skeet shoot."

Aside from that unfortunate 800-pound-gorilla-in-the-powder-room episode, the rest of the book, says Woodlief, builds its case excellently via statistics and anecdotes such as this one:
A Connecticut mother tells Ms. Marano that she is appalled by the parents she knows who have sent their 3-year-old "to an occupational therapist two times a week to work on scissor skills – for no discernible reason." But then the woman confesses that after her son's preschool teacher "said something about his fine motor skills," she took him to an occupational therapist "for an evaluation. I'm not proud of it."
Finally, and thankfully, Woodlief comes out in strong favor of homeschoolers:
In the how-things-used-to-be category, it is helpful for us to remember that Teddy Roosevelt, the quintessential American anti-wimp -- he once killed a mountain lion with a knife -- grew up enjoying a close relationship with his parents, including extended family vacations (no summer camp!), home schooling (call the teachers' union!) and close contact even after he left for college (cut the cord, Mrs. Roosevelt!). TR's own children suffered similar "overparenting," yet they went on to be war heroes and successful citizens. American history teems with similar examples.

He homeschools as well, blogging "about parenting and faith."

...My highly educated wife home-schools our four boys, for example, because she can accomplish in three hours what public schools need six to do poorly. Such efficiency gives our sons an extra three hours each day to build forts, go down to the creek in our backyard or give music recitals at a nursing home in town.

However, as statistics and families testify, one doesn't need a degree to parent or homeschool. The Puritans and other early Americans did it for generations before we got our college system rolling properly; look where we are now.

4 comments:

steve martin said...

The worst mistake I made with respect to raising my two children was to send them to a public school.

I honestly think they would have been better off with no schooling and just informal instruction at hole or out in the world.

Good post!

- Steve M.

William said...

I was home schooled from 7th grade through my senior year of high school, I have a friend whose father is a teacher and he and his sister where home schooled their whole lives. We worked together for several years and we were the highest rated employees at our store, our supervisor would regularly comment on how strait our heads were screwed on, and how respectful and responsible we were.
I feel that I didn't miss anything by not going to a public school, except the chance to play football, and I managed to figure out and develop my own learning style, instead of being forced to take notes that would make no sense to me. I don't think homeschooling is for everyone but in the right circumstances it can be very effective.

Hannah J said...

Thank you, William!

I should be reading PW a lot more often than I currently am. Good latest post, BTW.

William said...

Thanks, I'm just one of the contributors on that blog so I can't approve comments but mine get automatically posted so people will see my response before they see your comment.