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The Nurture Assumption

2004-04-01 17:07:03.751441+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Christopher Rasch had a link to Malcolm Gladwell on Judith Rich Harris's research which suggests that peers have more to do with how children turn out than parents. That lead me to The Nurture Assumption website, which is mostly mentions for her book, but it sounds like there's a bunch of interesting thinking down that road.

In an email conversation a while back someone referred to Chattanooga as "a great place to raise children". My instincts were that if I were raising kids I'd do everything I could to give them peers from an upscale area, but I then (and now) believe that parents can make a huge difference. This suggests that those instincts were more correct. And could throw all sorts of fuel on the notions of bussing and desegregation.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Books Chattanooga Education ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: the teacher speaks.... made: 2004-04-01 18:27:21.050973+00 by: polly

dan, you are right, chattanooga was known for a great place to raise your kids...but now, the areas that were acknowledged as the best places are no longer that way, redbank, hixson, middle valley, ooltewah, east ridge. the population is more diversified, income levels are more extreme low/high. education is different, especially since the city and county schools became one school system.

peer pressure has a major influence on whether or not a student will "fit" in or be harrassed for their whole school life. my first year at my school teaching was a hard one, for me and the students. it was NOT cool to be smart or an honor/star roll student. these students were literally attacked because of their intelligence. it has now been three years since i first started teaching, the administration and teachers have WORKED HARD to change this attitude. now, it is super cool to be smart. we use the basketball team as an example, the whole team is on the honor roll and our student population wants to be on the team. we've really come a long way since that first year.

still, we have a lot of kids who can't think outside the box and they suck other kids inside the box to be just like them. i see it every day. it would help if we had parents who supported education, their children, and didn't think that school was just the daycare, drop them off and forget about them. this is a daily battle at all schools. parents of our kids are young, have too many kids, have kids with emotional problems or BIG issues, and these parents don't know what to do with their kids. so, they forget about them. i guess, it's a hope for the best attitude. it sure would make my life as a teacher easier if we had concerned parents who cared about their kids enough to make them behave and do their best at school. a lot of these kids don't want to do their best, school is their playground. ha, our future politicians.

upscale schools? my girlfriend's daughter went to notre dame high, dance team, 4.0 gpa, and partied her butt off. these kids were drinking by the time they were 15yo and smoking, sometimes even cigarettes. i've heard the same thing about chattanooga christian school, private school, same for mcCallie & baylor, private schools. now i'm not making a blanket statement about these schools, there are a lot of kids who don't have this type of lifestyle that go to these schools, but if you have a kid with low self-esteem or feel they need to fit in, they can get sucked into the "extreme" behaviors.

the way i see it, parents are going to have to commit themselves to a lifetime of raising the kid from the first day of birth till they are out of school and living on their own. it was hard when i had my daughter in 1978, now, there is my grandson born this past december. it's going to be even harder. he has strong parents that love him wholeheartedly, he knows he is loved and is a happy baby. i see babies at the daycare when i drop my grandson off who are NOT happy babies. our baby gets a lot of attention because he IS a happy baby and is well adjusted. and yes, i said "our". it DOES take a village to raise a child, lol. his parents and grandmother will see to it that he turns out to be the most that he can be. don't you wish there were more parents who would commit to that ideal?

my brother and his wife homeschool their two kids. my son-in-law wants to put the baby in a private school when it's time for him to go to school. there is a good elementary private school here, bright school. it's been here since the '60's. i've always heard good things about it. then, i've heard good things about signal mountain elementary and middle school. then again, that is an upscale area on the mountain.

i read in today's paper that georgia schools will have a loss of millions of dollars due to state budget cuts. which will mean teaching positions cut, special ed, resource, textbooks, building maintenance, several other areas that will be affected, will be cut or reduced. education cuts are not only at the state level, it's on the federal level also. then the government wants to know why kids are not doing good in school. trust me, it is NOT the teacher's fault. we spend more money out of our pockets each year that there is less money for the classroom. so far, i've spent an average of $600 each year for my classroom. we have science and math teachers buying materials just to help their kids pass the state tests. we need current textbooks. we need concerned active parents. we need money. is there an answer for all this?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-04-01 22:54:00.022343+00 by: Shawn

I'm a little surprised that this is news. My parents (especially my mother) were extremely paranoid about peer influence on my upbringing - so much so that I've classified their behavior as oppressive. So I've always been under the impression that this was the "common wisdom".

I also don't know anybody who blames teachers for the shortcomings of the school system.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-04-02 00:41:25.175078+00 by: Dan Lyke

Shawn, I've always been something of a loner and an outsider, but I'd credit most of who I am to my parents, and very little to my peers. Not all of that is good, I have some ambivalence about wealth that has hurt me a couple of times, but I had disdain for my peers in grade school, especially in high school, and think that I absorbed little of what they valued.

On the whole "prevalence of drugs in upscale schools" thing: I had two sisters who went a good bit of the way through GPS, one of whom lived with me for half a year to continue going there while my parents were moving around. And I now live in Marin County, where... Yeah, there are drugs at upscale schools. However, I think drug use is largely irrelevant to future successes; except where there are clear detrimental physical effects (heroin, opium, etc.) it's another recreational activity, probably quite a bit safer than some of the things I did at that age (I stayed clear of most mind-altering substances for an amazingly long time for someone with my recreational predilections).

(Snicker. As an aside, in looking for background material on drugs in upscale schools I did a Google search on "robodog". It doesn't mean now what it meant a decade and a half ago...)

And really, as you note Polly, I believe that strong adult guidance can influence a school. It's just that kids think they're smarter than most adults, certainly teachers, and in most cases concerning social issues they are. By the time we get to twelfth grade most of us have learned to subsume the dynamics, but there is an awful lot of politics that adults play unconsciously that kids are still learning, and are therefore still conscious of.

That you'd even consider that people are blaming the teachers for the flaws of education shows that you live in a region I wouldn't raise kids. Well, it shows that you're a teacher, too, so you get the down-range crap of all sorts of stuff that mouth-breathing parents are probably spewing at you, but even in my most cynical-about-education moments I think I've been pretty clear that at worst teachers are working with good intentions inside of a critically flawed system.

And I played a lot of Ultimate on the fields at Bright School.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-04-02 01:50:55.338935+00 by: polly

"And I played a lot of Ultimate on the fields at Bright School"...cool.

and yes, in this region teachers are blamed when students are failing. "we" are not doing our jobs OR "we" are not qualified teachers. tennessee/hamilton county test scores are failing. several schools, including my school, were put on notice. which meant, if our students did not have better test scores within a 3 year period, the state would come in and take over the school. now what they would do with it was not known, the general consensus was the state couldn't do any better than we did if we didn't get those scores up. as of this year, our scores have been where they should be and if our scores from this week of testing (TCAP) are just as good then we will be taken off notice. it has been a crock...we are an inner city school, we have kids with BIG issues, we have deadbeat parents and i'm not talking about child support, attendance & discipline is a big issue! we are literally pulling these kids & scores up by the boot straps. it has been an ordeal. peer pressure hasn't helped either. i really get ill when the newspaper makes it the headline news "teachers not doing their jobs". come to my school, bozo, and see what it's like before you start telling me i'm not doing MY job. sheesh.

shawn, you need to get out more.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-04-02 02:09:50.813316+00 by: Larry Burton

Polly, I have two sons, nineteen and fourteen. Out of all the teachers that they have had there was only one that I thought was not doing her job. The rest of the problems were either my fault or my kids just not doing what they should have been doing. However there are a few teachers who give all teachers a black eye. I live in Lawrenceville, BTW.

Peers were the worst enemy that my older son had. With my younger son, his peers have always seemed to be a decent influence.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-04-02 11:26:34.96212+00 by: polly

just an FYI, all teachers graduating from the university of tennessee-chattanooga are required to pass their praxis (state certification test) before they can receive their diploma. the board of education personnel department checks for that. if you don't have proof of taking the test and passing it, that which is required for what you are going to teach, you are given a limited amount of time to do so. otherwise, you are let go.

i went to UTC with one little gal that graduated before UTC required passing the praxis. she had to take the praxis five times before she finally passed it. one other teacher, a newly hired graduate from UTC, lost her job because she kept putting off taking the test. she would have passed the test with very high scores. she had a great teaching job, new school, money in her budget...not too smart to procrastinate on something that important.

lawrenceville, georgia? budget cuts are going to hurt :(

#Comment Re: made: 2004-04-02 18:26:19.469773+00 by: Shawn

you need to get out more

No secret there. Been trying to for many years. Just one aspect of the wonderful legacy left me by my parents.