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April 29, 2007

How to Columnize

An interesting little object lesson in how to write a column by India Knight today. Take a reported piece of research, twist (or misunderstand) what it says and then decry it as obviously rubbish:

And then, when I got home and finally read the papers, I came across an article about one Judith Rich Harris, an American psychologist who believes that parenting doesn’t have much to do with how a child develops; according to her, the family counts for very little and peer groups count a great deal.

Ergo, you could sit there staring blankly at your child and not saying anything for decades on end and it presumably wouldn’t matter terribly provided a pack of children came round to tea and helped it to integrate. I’m slightly simplifying her hypothesis, but not much.

It sounds completely insane to me, I must say, though I can see how it might seem tempting if you are possessed of especially recalcitrant teenagers.

No, not the result of the research at all. Rather, she said that because we now have smaller families and because children go off to child-care, play-school and then school in age cohorts, they are increasingly being raised by their peer groups and not by the mixed age group of a larger family with more siblings in it.

Somewhat different, don't you think?

April 29, 2007 in Media | Permalink


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Actually, that's what Judith Harris is saying. She has some examples of children brought up in deprived orphanages who basically had no interaction with adults, but had a stable group of other children to interact with, and those kids wound up reasonably stable mentally, much more than is normal for children brought up with unresponsive parents.

The other pack of children would have to come round for tea very frequently of course.

Posted by: Tracy W | Jun 1, 2007 5:49:27 AM