Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Childhood as Scavenger Hunt

Today I want to share some thoughts on childhood and growing up from advice columnist Carolyn Hax. I don't usually read her column, but the headline this time (Keeping score on kids' development) caught my eye. The letter-writer wondered how she could tactfully brag about how advanced her 2-year-old's development was compared to that of his young relatives.

Hax's response puts the kibosh on parental bragging with this:

Developmental markers don't necessarily declare your exceptional child is on track to be an exceptional adult. It might be more useful, in fact, to treat such markers as a scavenger hunt: Each child has roughly two decades to acquire that list of human skills to arrive at adulthood within the range of normal. Some zip through the list, some mosey, and a few fall outside the typical range (these lists are really for the latter, to signal the need for help).... don't be impressed into believing speed is the only gift worth having.
I love the scavenger hunt metaphor. It highlights the folly of testing young children to sort them into gifted vs. not-gifted groups (as I've noted before). Not to mention that it makes childhood sound like it's supposed to be fun. What a concept.

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