The rug rat race

According to Garey Ramey and Valerie A. Ramey of the University of California at San Diego, since the 1990s, college educated parents are spending twice as much as time with their children than less-educated parents. Surely this can only be a positive change? And yet Ryan Avent, writing for The Economist’s 1843 magazine this month, wonders in his article “High Pressure Parenting” whether this additional time is being dedicated in the interests of the children or for the parents themselves.

Avent dubs this time as being “fun with a purpose” since Ramey and Ramey concluded in 2009 that the rise in childcare time by parents coincided with parents focusing time on ensuring their children gained entry to the most prestigious colleges; an approach they coined “the rug race race.”

Although, on the one hand, it is admirable to wish to spend more time with our children, by exerting pressure with extra curricular and preparatory activities, are we entering our children into a race they can never win?

Education is not a track with a finish line; although there are supposed markers along the way indicating academic success or otherwise.

Notably, what our present education system in the UK does not do is highlight other types of success or indicators of potential expressed by children through a hundred or more other languages.

If we only invest in time with our children with a purpose of coaching or teaching a way to succeed in an academic sense, we not only take away a child’s right to explore and to research independently, we risk limiting their mindset; a child is led to believe that life is a contest, a competition to be fought and if you lose then your prospects are diminished. It suggests that we do not have the competency or capability as children to shape our future. Ultimately, it does not respect the child.


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