professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

  • Location:
  • Mood:

Coddling, Resilience, and other Misdirections

In an Op-Ed piece, Frank Bruni posed the question: Are Kids Too Coddled? Here is the link to the piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/bruni-are-kids-too-coddled.html?_r=1&. But let me answer Mr. Bruni as clearly and as succinctly as I can. NO. Let me repeat that: NO. One more time just to be sure that my answer is clear: NO. I am thinking about this piece and linking it to an ad I saw for a webinar about engagement.


I am in the throes of pulling anything I can find about engagement as Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer, Reading in the Wild) and I are working on a book whose working title is THE ENGAGEMENT MANIFESTO. The title will evolve, but it says exactly what we are thinking about engagement and its importance. So when I saw the proposed focus of the webinar, I clicked on a link to find out more. Turns out the webinar is not about engagement as much as it is about other elements of classroom management and instruction. But one word jumped out: RESILIENCE. And that brought me back to Bruni's editorial.

Bruni uses the phrase "modern cult of self-esteem." He is talking about Arne Duncan's white suburban mom comments on CCSS. Bruni finds the comments of Duncan "impolitic," but wonders whether "tougher instruction not be rejected simply because it makes children feel inadequate, and that the impulse to coddle kids not eclipse the imperative to challenge them." From there, Bruni jumps into a morass of objections to those who would challenge CCSS. Most of his argument is simply straw man thinking. But the real damage here is the idea that somehow we can treat kids with too much care. That, instead of taking care with kids, we should teach them to be more resilient. Coddling means treating something with overindulgence or overprotection. Is that possible when it comes to kids? "Come on, slackers, pick yourselves up and get back to the struggle." I can almost see the scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail movie when the Black Knight insists it is just a flesh wound when his arms are cut off. Okay, I know that is hyperbolic, but are we really suggesting that kids need less care and more resilience?

I suggest instead that we share books with kids that show them characters who struggle against odds and obstacles and monsters, but who succeed, at least in part. Let kids test themselves within the safe confines of a book instead of smacking them down by giving them a test they are not expected to do well on as the new CCSS assessments are doing. Instead of destroying self-esteem or sneering at the cult of self-esteem as Bruni does, let us go about respecting kids (esteem is respect and admiration). Let us see them as incredible, as gifts, as wonders who wonder.
Tags: ccss, coddling, esteem, idiocy, respect
Subscribe

  • Just a little bit, please?

    I am (or was) a diabetic. I now control my numbers through diet. I avoid sweets though I watch jealously as someone enjoys ice cream or cake or both.…

  • Who decides?

    I have never been a fan of testing. When I left the K-12 classroom for the university, students took one test a year, and not all grades were tested…

  • Education

    Education has latinate roots. It means to lead out of. I always thought of it as leading out of ignorance. However, when some people see the word…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment