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January 25, 2011

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Francine Lipman

Well said.

Matt

What is the "politically correct, boring pablum that the educrats promote" for reading material that's bad? It's hard for me to see many things are more pablum-like than C.S. Lewis, but my guess is that here tastes just differ. I don't have kids and don't spend much time thinking about their reading material, so would be curious to know what you have in mind.

(Also, comments on this blog would be more user-friendly if it were possible to use basic tags for italics and the like. Can that be turned on?)

Joe

Maybe football does, too, but I won't belabor the point.

Honestly, I think the best thing for most (American) kids is to take up some sort of endurance-based individual sport. Running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, whatever. Unlike music or the more skill-based sports, almost anyone can be reasonably good at it with enough training -- heck, I'm about as unathletic as it gets, and I was honorable mention all-state at a big school in a big state in high school, and it was nice to get the recruiting letters from the podunk Division II schools I'd never consider going to. Plus it's great exercise, for many/most it leads to lifelong participation in recreational sports (I'm about 13 months off of a 2:58 marathon), and it does wonders for clearing your head from all of that school stuff.

It's hard for me to see many things are more pablum-like than C.S. Lewis, but my guess is that here tastes just differ.

Lewis is great for smaller children. The books are short and his prose reads reasonably well, and there's enough action to hold their attention. I probably wouldn't recommend them for non-Christian (or in our case, non-nominally-Christian) kids just because the whole Aslan-Jesus bit might be a little hard to explain to (say) a Jewish kid, but for the majority, it's fun to talk about metaphor and allegory. [My 4.5 year old and I are almost through the Silver Chair as of last night.]

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lucy

Wow, everything here seemed reasonable until "pretend there are no meaningful distinctions between the sexes." Does the author not acknowledge or desire to counteract how aggressively kids get bombarded in school and outside with mandates about what girls are/do/like and what boys are/do/like? I'm skeptical (but curious) about the argument that a little bit of gender-as-social-construct makes kids less creative rather than more. I'm sure he's not advocating pink rooms, princess books, and peewee cheerleading as the only way, but I would think that in the early years "pretend[ing] there are no meaningful distinctions between the sexes" actually fosters a lot more creativity and freedom to form identity. The other stuff can come later.

Calvin Massey

Joe: I agree with you about some physical activity, but I think the pressure of team sports at an early age is just another form of regimented activity.

Lucy: The sexes are different. They manifest those differences at a very early age, as anyone who has had children of either sex will testify. Pushing one's daughter to be a cheerleader or "beauty" contestant, and one's son to be the star quarterback is just another way to regiment them, but pretending that men and women are all the same, only with slightly different anatomies simply ignores reality. A daughter who is treated the way I advocate will grow up able and eager to seize whatever path in life she desires. Same with a son. But that doesn't come from telling them that sex is just a social construct. Gender, by the way, is a grammatical term, no matter that the current vogue conception of the term is as a placeholder for a socially constructed identity.

Matt: I'll inquire about italics and such.

Bill Turnier

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