Criticizes modern child rearing, argues that accepted standards for children's behavior and accomplishments have fallen, and suggests solutions.
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Although he's an academically clumsy writer, Damon is able to convey a message that should relieve and give heart to nearly anyone who cares deeply about America's children. He shows that whether growing up deprived or affluent, American children too often lack the elementary moral foundations indicated by being "kind, decent, respectful, honest, fair, and responsible." He argues that developmental research firmly indicates that humans are born possessing the capacities for such virtues. But child-rearing theory has been laboring under misconceptions that children are less competent than in fact they are and misinterpretations of developmental findings that have led to false oppositions between strict and lenient, adult-centered and child-centered child-rearing practices. Damon advocates realizing children's innate capacities and revising parenting, schooling, and community building in order to nurture those capacities and foster moral growth. What makes his message so compelling is that so much of what his prescription for reform rests on is what used to be known as common sense and goodwill. Ray OlsonFrom Library Journal:
In this exceedingly readable study, Damon (The Moral Child, Free Pr., 1988) challenges prevailing views on education and parenting. He views the child-centered approach to education as having produced a generation of undisciplined, idle minds unable to face intellectual challenges. In the same fashion, he dismisses the self-esteem doctrine as unscientific and warns that without the development of an active concern for others our society will fall into irrevocable decline. Damon is a staunch defender of the innately competent child capable of serious thought but lacking the appropriate guidance to grow and develop. He sees the public school as worthy of defense but in need of grass-roots revolution. With an abundance of anecdotal data, Damon sustains his passionate eloquence even when dealing with the most unpopular and potentially volatile subjects. Highly recommended.
Arla Lindgren, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, N. Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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