We hosted a debate this morning between the founder of Baby Einstein and the author of a study which contends the popular educational DVDs actually impair children’s intellectual growth.
Even before this study, I was amazed that parents would spend money on such products. Not because I suspected they were harmful. But because they strike me as a sick reflection of our constant social emphasis on success and achievement.
Beginning in infancy, parents channel their kids through a gauntlet of developmental training regimens that promise to spit out Ivy League-bound, athlete/musician/humanitarians. Presumably, these little androids then become hedge fund managers.
When I was an infant, there was no Baby Einstein. In fact, rather than stimulate my brain, my mom accidentally dropped me off a porch. Seriously. No private coaches either. In fact, I was the first 8-year-old to simultaneously hold the title of both Worst Junior Hockey Player and Worst Little Leaguer in New York. For 3 years running. When high school rolled around, there was no SAT prep, essay editor, or any of that nonsense. Just the fear of ending up in the merchant marine to motivate me.
Despite all the early deprivation, I haven’t become a rail-jumping drifter. Of course, many would argue working in television is actually worse. But, look at it this way… For thousands of years, great minds – from Plato to Newton to Einstein – have sprung forth from the gene pool without the midwifery of Princeton Review.
We’d all benefit from a greater focus on loving our kids, not training them.