The August 2011 issue of Parenting New Hampshire stood out as a perfect example of mainstream media presenting traditional schooling as inevitable for children in September. This is Part II of my blog post discussing the way the media presents Back-To-School fervor and traditional schooling issues and the detriments to children of this view.
Advocating For Homework- An Exploitative Theft Of Children’s Free Time
Perhaps one of the most dreadful realities of “Back-To-School” is homework. Parenting New Hampshire again failed to recognize children’s needs and presented homework as an inevitable necessity of childhood. The title of their article on homework, “Get Ready for the Homework Battle: Tips for Parents on How to Win The War” by Karen Plumley, truly speaks for itself. This article, like many other mainstream media resources, ignores the research that indicates that homework has little to no educational benefits and actually may hurt children. Most mainstream media resources present homework as something that children must and should do rather than empowering parents to speak out AGAINST it. This article actually aligns parents with the schools and AGAINST their own children, encouraging parents to view homework as a war battle where they must prevail over their children’s needs and wishes.
Homework is a Big Brother-esque intrusion into a child’s home. After sitting still for six hours at school, children are now on house arrest for another stretch of time. That parents allow the school to dictate their children’s lives from within the safety and privacy of their own homes strikes me as bizarre. After hours of school, homework steals what is left each day of children’s free time, play time, family time, peer time and time for physical activities, exploration, creating, resting and solitude. I have worked with children of all ages, from preschool to 12th grade, who were so distressed by this imposition of unpaid labor that they became physically ill and emotionally distressed to the point of screaming and sobbing and showing self abuse, violent explosions of rage, panic attacks as well as suicidal and homicidal ideation.
Parents should not need researchers to tell them that homework has no real educational benefits- Their children’s distress and loss of precious childhood time should be enough to convince parents that homework has no place in the home.
Pushing Teens Out of The Nest
Part of the myth of school being inevitable is that teens must become “independent” of their parents and leave the nest after the completion of traditional schooling. This is a Western, industrialized cultural practice, not a natural process for human beings. In indigenous cultures, especially peaceful tribal cultures, adolescent children remain interdependent with their parents and families well into adulthood, until they are married.
The article, “The Nest Is Now Empty” by Melissa Speeney, reinforced this Western cultural expectation that a child must become an adult and be free of his or her parents by age 18. Speeney writes, “Then she left me. While still retaining the title of “parent”, I now became deactivated. She needed me no longer. After 18 years of habitual participation in her life, the nest is now empty.”
Wow. My heart aches for that family. My teen son and I often critique mainstream parenting and schooling articles from his still-a-child perspective. When I showed that line to my son who will be 18 in four months, he immediately grabbed onto me, hugged me and said, “You’ll still love me, Mom, right?” I immediately assured my son as I have quite often in recent months, that I will always be here for him, that 18 is nothing but a legal milestone, that the nest will never be “empty” because he will always be welcome at home. We follow natural parenting principles, not mainstream expectations. Youth of legal age must be emotionally ready to move away from their parents, knowing that their parents will never become “deactivated”, but will be emotionally involved for life.
Please view Part III of this blog post to continue our discussion of the detriments to children of the mainstream media presenting traditional “Back-To-School” as inevitable for children…