February 7, 2019 at 11:00 AM #55361Jonas SauderModeratorOriginal Poster@jonas
The subtitle of Leonard Sax’s 2016 Collapse of Parenting is “How We Hurt our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups.”
While Sax’s book is directed to parents, many of his comments apply to teachers as well, especially teachers of lower grades. It’s worth reading in its entirety. Several highlights…
a. On pp18,19 he notes that we live in a culture in which the authority (and the importance) of parents has declined not only in the eyes of children but also in the eyes of parents themselves. Parents suffer from “role confusion.”
b. In directing routine life (think classroom) activities, Command; don’t ask. The mere fact that the one in authority feels compelled to rationalize or negotiate about what must be done undermines authority and cultivates disrespect. Explanation is fine, but don’t let it slide into negotiation, Pp 69,70.
c. Part of our job is to educate desire–not allowing the child to merely do “what feels good,” p. 109.
d. Virtues (such as self-control) must be taught, and it’s best done by requiring virtuous behavior. Behavior becomes identity, p. 131, 133. ( A common, but erroneous assumption is that if right/wrong are explained and child is given choice of which to do, he’ll choose the right.)
e. The route to personal fulfillment in life is not the fulfillment of one’s desires. “That career and economic success can give fulfillment is a central illusion of our time,” p.193.
Teachers can find helpful suggestions on the author’s website; Leonardsax.com.
(Note: Reference to this site doesn’t endorse everything on the site.)
Three take-aways from Sax’s book I’d personally highlight are…
1. Use the imperative mood freely and routinely when directing the activities of children.
2. Teach and require virtues such as kindness and patience; don’t expect students’ response to questions such as “How would you feel if…?” to be sufficient to guide their behavior and develop their character.
3. Teach children to value struggle and develop grit.
I leave you with a couple questions to consider. What do you have to say in reply? Feel free to share your insights.
A. Do any of Sax’s comments resonate with what you experience?
B. Do you observe people (including yourself?) hesitant to give simple, direct commands to children/students?
C.Sax suggests that the growing “culture of disrespect” for parents/adults or the past is not so much an adversarial disrespect as a “not taking adults seriously” disrespect. How do we command respect and teach virtues?
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