On November 13th, author Alfie Kohn came to Nueva as part of the Common Ground Speaker Series. He offered a “cultural critique” of the common wisdom in today’s society about parenting, as outlined in his most recent book, The Myth of the Spoiled Child.
His book is “not a book about how to parent per se,” he said. “This time I’m interested in values and beliefs concerning children, what they’re like and how they are raised in our culture. And what those beliefs tell us about ourselves in our culture.”
Kohn dismantled the pervasive argument that American children are being overindulged by helicopter parents. He said he wrote this book to look at empirical beliefs and predictions. What he found was that there is “virtually no evidence to support the claims that kids are spoiled and self-centered more than not. Let alone that these things are more true today than they used to be.”
Not shy of controversy, Kohn argues that research shows that there is no benefit to homework before high school, and no benefit to giving kids grades. These types of external motivations often have the opposite of the intended effect, killing a child’s natural love of learning.
He ended his talk by asking the audience to “join me in asking the root questions” and to be “willing to stand up for our kids and challenge a culture that doesn’t.”