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The domestication of children
#1
https://www.self-directed.org/tp/taming-american-child/

Essay details what its title promises.

«In short, American children have been tamed; domesticated and brought into captivity. They had their wildness and sovereignty taken from them and were given light-up shoes and junk food as compensation (electronics these days). Children today, like our young neighbor, don’t proudly tell you what they can do, like previous generations — “I can draw, and tie my shoes, and tell time” — but rather what they own — “These are my magic markers, my new shoes, my clock.” This was a very lousy deal indeed.»

Powerful words. She elucidates the differences between then and now by pointing out how «most of children’s learning traditionally occurred through their free play, exploration of nature, real work, and time spent alone, which have, insanely, been all but eliminated, and sometimes even criminalized, in the contemporary U.S. These activities were for children the factories of self-knowledge and self-confidence that made possible their mature and creative behavior throughout history until the helicopter gang flew into town.» Whereas, «[b]y contrast, young people raised indoors, on electronic stimulation and adult-chosen activities, and in the constant presence of those adults, lack the independence, openness to challenge, and resilience that is their birthright. They are bored and psychologically dependent on us and on electronics and general materialism. They lack initiative (which has been systematically discouraged out of them), and they make decisions awkwardly because they so rarely get to do it. (God help them in an emergency with no adults able to help.) This is, of course, the fault of adults who, at some mediocre and particularly unimaginative point in our recent history, began to see the risks of young people’s natural wildness as a problem to be solved. (It should surprise no one that any such solution would bring money and jobs to the adult world.)»

Baker is not all doom and gloom, however. Many parents subvert these issues, through encouraging free play, allowing kids to explore, letting them ambulate themselves, encouraging decision-making (for decisions that actually impact them in a real way, not just which pair of boots (out of these two) they want to wear today), letting them and encouraging them to do real work, not micromanaging their every minute, and recognising how they grow from these responsibilities.

Basically, if you're gonna raise your kid by protecting them like they're a suicidal idiot, they'll probably end up a suicidal idiot.

Baker also ties this into the environment problem, briefly. «[T]he other victim of this hapless experimenting with children’s lives will be the planet, which will one day need them to tackle real, daunting problems without the help of a previous, more resourceful generation. These problems include global warming, perhaps the mother of all problems, and I for one do not want to be dependent in surviving such a calamity upon a generation that was prevented from figuring out how to climb stairs or trees.»

Well written and clear-headed essay.


This is a general problem that extends beyond the American child, although it is an experiment perhaps pioneered with the American child. Just a complete deskilling. I remember reading a study about indigenous children using real tools and doing real work, &c., and how much more healthy they seemed to be. The article about it pointed out that "it takes a village to raise a child" doesn't mean a village of elders micromanaging the child's timetable, but that it takes a full community—including other children for the child to interact with, and that the child grew by imitating the healthy behaviour of the adult community.


P.S.
If someone knows the article I allude to above, or stumbles upon it, please send it to me/post it here!
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