Should We Avoid Teaching Children About Ownership?

buildcastleOne of the reasons I am drawn to Magda Gerber’s RIE parent/infant philosophy is that it does not advocate forcing children to share. Why? Because sharing by it’s very nature is a voluntary act — to force a child to “share” is much closer to an act of theft than it is an act of generosity (for further discussion, see my article “Sharing Is Not A Virtue“).

But on a deeper level Gerber understood, at least implicitly, Ayn Rand’s idea that knowledge is hierarchical. That means certain concepts are dependent on other, more basic concepts, and one cannot grasp or be expected to grasp an idea that relies on more basic, fundamental knowledge. For example, you cannot grasp the concept of “furniture” without first identifying a few different kinds of furniture, such as tables, chairs, book cases; you cannot understand multiplication until you grasp addition; etc. Continue reading

Let Your Child Rewind

rewindI had just driven home my son (at the time a little under two years old) and, after getting him out of the car in a bit of a hurry, I grabbed the handful of mail on my dashboard and headed for the house. But I accidentally dropped the mail next to the rear tire of the car. I picked it up started to walk toward the house, signaling or my son to follow. He protested and insisted that he should be the one to carry the mail. Continue reading

Don’t Make Your Kid Be An Example

“You’re older, you need to set an example for the younger kids.” At a preschool I was observing recently, this was the reason given to a child so he would comply with a teacher’s request. This idea of being an example was repeated a number of different times to several older children in a class consisting of three to five year olds. I’ve also heard this from parents on the playground in an attempt to get an older sibling to “behave.”

It may sound like a perfectly valid reason — at least to the teacher or parent. After all, younger kids look up to older children and often try to copy or mimic their behavior. Keep the older ones “in line” and the rest will follow, right? But what message are we really sending when we use this approach in order to gain a child’s compliance? Continue reading

What My Dad Taught Me About Racism

My Dad and Me

Growing up I wasn’t exposed to issues of racism in any significant way, at least so I thought. If my dad ever mentioned the word, I don’t remember. He may have mentioned someone’s race in passing, as a way to identify the person (e.g., “the Chinese lady”), but that’s it.

As a child, I thought little about race. I’m sure it was brought up in school in lessons about the civil war, but that was a long time ago. At home, race was a non-issue. In fact, my first personal exposure to the issue of racism (that I remember in a significant way) occurred during junior high school. Continue reading