Mainstream Media Wrongly Presents Back-To-School As Inevitable, Part II

26 August 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, public school

Laurie and her son Brycen have a close, connected and democratic relationship. Brycen’s needs, choices, requests, freedom and time are respected. (Photo by Joe Martin)

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…


2 Responses to “Mainstream Media Wrongly Presents Back-To-School As Inevitable, Part II”

  1. Kelleigh 31 August 2011 at 3:57 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks for another great post Laurie! It truly infuriates me when parents just blindly follow what “experts” tell them despite what is right in front of them! When I was a teacher, I actually had a parent report me to an “administrator” because I told her that I didn’t believe in giving homework for many of the same reasons that you mention in this post. Well, despite my objections, I was told to change my policy. It was necessary for kids to have homework. Something along the lines of, “it teaches time management skills and responsibility”. Yikes! Alas, yet another reason in a long list as to why I left the profession…

    And you’re right, it is not only awful to confine kids to seats and classrooms all day, but then hold them under “house arrest” for the evening until their homework is finished. It is all just so sick and unnatural. Keep the thoughts coming!

  2. Lisa 6 September 2011 at 4:56 am (PERMALINK)

    First, I agree. Kids need a natural atmosphere to ‘bloom, not constriction especially in formative years. Six hours in a chair is unnatural for most children, though, I see it mostly in little boys; perhaps because of evolution, but that is my opinion and only a genaralization. Second, the schools should have no juristiction over home~life. There was a Principal at my children’s primary school who was saying a speach, saying that the law required 900 hours, yet her school went beyond that! Amazing! That is stealing home~time!

    If a child is going to learn self~respect, they must be treated w/choices, meaning THIER OWN CHOICES, not teachers, parents, or anyone elses. We are born knowing what is good and what is bad. We as a society aught to give them at least that credit! Kids aren’t stupid; but constriction that can drive them in them out. We should take heed in natural culture from our view as westerners and an over~stuffed system, which seems to create high blood ~ pressure.

    I have always felt this way, and my children made their own choices, always knowing they are welcome home. This brings up the last point I will make: What is w/the magic #s; 18, 21? Do you really think children subscribe? Suddenly, you are responsible for all your own legal documentation? Suddenly you can drink alcohol? How stupid is that? Our system should realistically create an over~lap period so that it is a process for parents and children to blend these responsibilities.


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