Thursday, May 3, 2007

I'd Like A Definition Please

I watched "Notes on a Scandal" last night. An interesting movie, very predatory in nature, but there was one line that's been rattling around in my brain ever since.

"In the old days we confiscated cigarettes and whack-mags. Now it's knives and crack cocaine. And they call it progress."

This is what I've been wondering for a long time. What exactly do we, as a society, consider progress? I often find myself saying, "destruction in the name of progress" - tearing up greenlands, displacing nature, building, more, more, more all in the name of progress, right?

This isn't going to be a soap-box ranting on the damage we're doing to the planet. I've got no credibility in that area - I'm talking about other types of "progress".

Take for instance my son. He's recently turned six and is wrapping up his kindergarten year. In the course of this year, he has learned a lot. I wasn't in kindergarten but for a week or two - I was skipped ahead, so I don't remember - but I really don't think there was homework in kindergarten. Yet my son has it - three times a week. Granted, it's not difficult, it's not even challenging to him, but it is - by definition - homework. On Friday nights he brings home his poem book, which we are to read over the weekend (he reads it to me and his sister). On Tuesday nights he brings home his word-ring - a collection of index cards with new words written on it every week. On Thursday nights he brings home a new book to read as well as a worksheet (usually something in the language arts spelling, rhyming, opposites, etc.)

Is this progress? Are we giving our children more education for their benefit or because we're trying to make up for the years of being compared to other countries - and coming up short? Are we making progress or are we denying childhood? How many child prodigies are there? How many child athletes? We celebrate them - we revere them, but are they signs of progress? Who doesn't know that Tiger Woods started playing golf when he was three? What parents out there don't want to brag to their friends about how much better, smarter, more advanced their children are than any others?

My goal, when it comes to progress, is to give my children the things I feel I was denied. Hugs, kisses, rampant "I love yous" family trips, picnics, laughs, games, happy familial memories. Now, I wasn't abused, neglected or even treated poorly as a child. I had what I needed, food, shelter, clothing, good opportunities, and the chance to make something out of my life. However, my family was never the touchy-feely type, I remember a total of three kisses from my father in my life (and two were at my first wedding). I want my children to have a sense of security, of being worthy of love, of always having that behind them. To me, that's progress.

How do you define it?


alienbody said...

O.k. this is way too cerebral for me. I'm the KISS type, Keep It Simple Stupid (the latter part referring to me, not you). Both my kids had homework in kindergarten, under the guise of providing reinforcement for what they've learned in class. BIG EYE ROLL. I do think that we are pushing kids to keep up with other countries, but I can't say that I totally disagree with it. I don't think it's all bad, we just need a balance to allow our kids to learn AND still enjoy being a kid. All teachers are different, too. Out of three 5th grade classes, my son has had the most demanding teacher. We've had some huge projects mixed in with normal homework...which made my son a little stressed out. We are very ready for middle school, but at what cost? Ulcers? Late nights? It can be hard. But, I'm also working with 1st and 2nd grade kids who are still lacking some of the basics, because they are clearly not getting support at home. Balance, balance, balance.

Chickenbells said...

Progress to me is just the simple act of trying to get to know myself better...and I am finding that the "slowing down" or reverting back to the "old" ways of doing things and getting in touch with the simpler things is better for, certainly no homework in my house!