The other day, when my husband and I were in the checkout line at the grocery store, I spotted in the magazine rack a headline something like:
The Best Schools
It's never too soon to start stressing about your children's education!
You know what it was about? You know what it was fucking about?
He commented on, y'know, the whole encouragement of stress thing being not exactly a good idea.
I, on the other hand, did the hopping up and down thing about this insanity. Must be sure to get into the best preschools, or little Whoosie won't make it into Harvard! For goodness sakes. (When I went to preschool, all I remember is duck duck goose in the church playground and maybe hazy recollections of play-doh and celery.)
The article goes, "Mind you, we’re not endorsing this trend. That said, it seems to us that when it comes to your kid’s education, the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em mindset is the only real option." Oh, yeah, they don't endorse the trend, of course, but it's never too early to stress about it all, and really, can you be sure you won't be horribly crippling your child's academic chances if you don't worry about it Right Now?
It's only about $10K a year on average, flipping through the listings. You can afford $10K for Your Child's Future, right?
And it's all of a piece with stuff I see elsewhere, not all of which I can chase down. I can find this 2000 article about the way homework can mess with kids' time to have family life; this article from Stanford in 2006 that indicates that homework in elementary school has no academic benefits linked from this blog post. Not to mention all the stuff people write about "No Child Left Behind"'s unintended consequences. This 2003 article suggests that this sort of education madness is not limited to the US. And the whole 'Gotta get into the right school' shows its effects in an apparently rather flawed book called The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, which I note in part because damn, that was one of the schools we competed against in It's Academic, but mostly because this delusion of OMGMustBeDramaticallyAccomplished makes for madness.
I just ... bang my head on the desk. I'm not even terribly coherent about it. I mostly just get to jumping up and down about the damn stress injection into school. I remember the stress injection of school from back when I was going, back when I was being diligently taught the same horrible lessons that are now more important than ever, stuff like 'people will give you useless busywork, but if you're sharp enough you can coast around it (and you won't hit the wall until you're well past when you were supposed to pick up the skills for it)'; 'your value as a person is your accomplishment on a nice, mainstream educational track', 'doing well on the test matters more than understanding, enjoying, or valuing the knowledge' ....
Now with bonus madness! Because preschool isn't too soon for the parents to stress! And no parental stress ever communicates to the kids!
Augh. I wish this didn't infuriate me so much so I could write about it coherently. I'm just with the jumping up and down.
Happy freakin' September.