When I Grew Up…

I’m going to start with a caveat: I get it. I understand where the people I’m describing are coming from. Nostalgia is a powerful driver, as is fear of the unknown. I also get that learning new stuff is much more difficult than it was when you were in school. I don’t believe those are sufficient reasons on their own to resist change. To the meat of it.

Yesterday, I discussed a different method for teaching multiplication, and I noticed a theme in the comments for the original post that sounded familiar, but from a different context. It was reminiscent of one of the arguments someone gave in an argument about spanking: “That’s the way it was done when I grew up, and I turned out just fine.”

I know I’m seeing this argument (and taking part in discussions where it comes up) because I am a parent. I’m going to keep hearing it. Parents are (very understandably) using their own upbringing as models for how their kids should experience childhood. There’s nothing wrong with using it as a baseline. I think any parent who stops with just that, though, is doing their child a disservice. It ignores the 20-30 years of development that’s occurred between you being in school and them being in school. It ignores the idea that you’re probably the most biased person about your childhood. Most confusingly, it doesn’t even try to give your child better than you had, and that’s probably what’s made the discussions so frustrating to me.

To be clear, I’m not discussing honest, thought-out critiques and complaints about these methods. I’m not advocating accepting change just for change’s sake. New learning methodologies should be scrutinized, but with better points than “That’s not what we did.” If you don’t believe sufficient research exists to support the newer way, say that. Just try to remember that these discussions are about getting to the truth, not about winning.

Thanks for reading.


Children’s TV

What I remember from growing up and watching TV was mostly being entertained. If there were morals, I didn’t notice, or I didn’t notice I noticed. Obviously, as an adult, it’s easy to pick up on the themes in the shows my kid watches. I expected that.

What I didn’t really expect was the morals being taught to parents as well. For every child learning to share, there’s an adult being patient, caring, and forgiving who’s treating the child as much like an adult as they can. This episode of Daniel Tiger is a prime example. No yelling. No threats. No immediate punishments. A little song, a concession of choosing one more thing to do, and they keep on moving.

That’s tough in reality. The presentation is almost comical in how easily everything works out for them. I don’t believe it’s as far-fetched as it seems, though. It uses the idea that kids are GREAT at learning. Something that happens once is how it happens from here on out for kids. Taking a little bit of extra time once establishes the rule for the kid of “I can have a bit more fun, but the we have to go.” The worst thing that happens for the parent is that they might have to sing a silly song in front of other people.

The message to the parents, no matter what the situation, is that being caring and patient creates a great positive feedback loop, and it doesn’t make you a doormat. Adults that take the time to create an environment where the kids can learn to be better behaved make it easier on themselves later and that allows them to be more accommodating, which I guess shouldn’t be all that surprising. Stable environments help kids be stable. I like this message because it’s another tool to help me avoid having to use the philosophy of “Might makes right” in my household.

Thanks for reading.