ERIC Number: ED469541
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000
Reference Count: N/A
Ready or Not: What Happens When We Treat Children as Small Adults.
Hymowitz, Kay S.
Maintaining that profound transformations over the last 30 years in the way children look and act are connected to many troubling social problems, this book demonstrates how anticulturalism--the belief that children are autonomous, independent individuals discovering their own reality and that development occurs best independent of or in opposition to the prevailing culture--has altered the conception of childhood itself. The book further challenges adults to think about the needs of children who are forced to grow up prematurely and shows what happens when a culture gives up its traditional mission of handing down its wisdom and moral heritage to the next generation. The book asserts that yesterday's parent-controlled childhood protected children from sex, from work, and from adult decisions, but also from the dominance of peers and from the marketplace. Anticulturalism, an outcome of the evolution of American political thought first appearing in the 1950s, is pervasive and seriously undermines adults' commitment for preparing children to live in a democracy. Many childrearing experts communicate that parents' most important role is to provide stimulation for brain development, thus disguising the diminishing emotional life between parents and children. Furthermore, the book argues, current educational practices deprive children of a foundation for social solidarity by glorifying individual skills and creativity at the expense of seriously encountering knowledge of the past. The media help to socialize "sophisticated" consumer children who can assert themselves in opposition to parents. Premature due process rights subvert the required repeated lessons of moral responsibility and force adolescents into an adversarial stance with adults who should be guiding them. Sexuality education exhibits a form of well-intentioned, anticultural neglect by assuming that teens are capable of making rationale decisions while sexually expressing an autonomous self. Thus, postmodern adolescents and young adults lack a deep connection to a set of values or a cultural framework and hesitate to place themselves in the adult world. The book concludes by asserting that although postadolescents' uneasiness with the incoherence they experienced as children may provoke them to define a more stable world for their children, recapturing the purpose and meaning of childhood will be difficult. It will be necessary for parents to recognize the need to balance children's desires and the communal good and recall that a childhood protected from media and marketplace influences gives space for the individual spirit to develop. Notes and references are listed for each chapter at the end of the book. (KB)
Descriptors: Adult Child Relationship, Child Development, Childhood Needs, Children, Childrens Rights, Court Litigation, Democracy, Early Adolescents, Marketing, Moral Development, Parent Child Relationship, Parent Role, Popular Culture, Power Structure, Socialization, Student Rights, Teacher Role, Teacher Student Relationship, Theories, Values Education, Youth
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Publication Type: Books; Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A