Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review of This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood written by Sharon Beder with Wendy Varney and Richard Gosden

 Many of us already know that our children are a marketing tool that companies use to sell products.  We know that incessant whine that some children have at the store when they see an impulse item they want. Many of us avoid children’s television shows or magazines because of the advertisements placed within them. Our children need to be protected from such things and our wallets thank us as well. This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood, written by Sharon Beder with Wendy Varney and Richard Gosden, not only presents evidence regarding advertising  and marketing to children, but also chronicles the fairly recent events within education worldwide that affect our children and their future.

As a former teacher and a parent, I spend much of my time researching education trends and news. Though This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood was published in 2009, there are still many topics we currently see in education today. Chapter Five discusses the de-funding of schools. Many of us think that there is a recession to blame or a high jobless rate to blame. However, the de-funding of public schools can be traced back to corporations, lobbyists, and lack of willingness to pay for community services like schools. The exciting part of this trend, for corporations at least, was that they could then go ahead and implement what the authors call “fundraising schemes”. Examples of such schemes are BoxTops4Education, Campbell’s Labels for Education, and other similar programs. You see by de-funding schools, these companies no longer have to pay high tax rates. These companies, and others, used those funds to create schemes that not only “help” the schools they de-funded, but also to build brand loyalty. Would you say no to a school in need of money? What if you have no money to donate? Sure, then you would absolutely share your box tops or labels in order to help the school. After all, it is for the children, right? The corporations make themselves look like “the good guys” after sneaking around and beginning as the “bad guys”. If you read far enough into this book, you will find out more pertinent details. For example, how many teenage boys out of every ten will be prescribed psychotropic medication if they attend a doctor appointment? (Hint: See page 205!)

I could go on forever singing the praises of the research-based information within This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood, but I prefer to ask you to read the book. Once you have this information, it will be difficult to see childhood and education in the same way. As with anything in life, follow the money and you will find the reason for legislation. 

Below I have listed some of the more thought-provoking quotes from the text. Please consider reading this book and sharing the information with others. Knowledge IS power and power helps us to make responsible choices for ourselves and our families. 

“Teachers have always used tests of various kinds to assess how well students are learning and which students are falling behind. However, standardized tests are aimed at assessing teachers and schools rather than for educational purposes” (p. 83).

“Standardised testing encourages poor teaching practices” (p. 89).

“Standardised tests are very good for testing the sort of knowledge that can be drilled into students, rather than real learning” (p. 91).

“The greatest victory of business reformers was the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act” (p. 101).

“The push for high-stakes standardized testing has created many business opportunities, as government funding is channeled into tests and texts rather than teacher training and reducing class sizes” (p. 107).

“Those who promote rewards and punishments in school tend to view learning as unpleasant work that has to be coerced, and increasingly it is” (p. 118).

“One of the most useful means of expanding markets for drugs is provided by the recently developed imperative for early intervention” (p. 211).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oh Good, Pink Ribbons Are Everywhere Again

As I picked up a few items for my family this morning, I noticed pink ribbons on signs all over the store. The signs said "Support Breast Cancer Research". I tried to put the signs out of my mind even though  pink is a stereotypical "girl" color, girls can enjoy more than just pink, and men CAN get breast cancer.

Unfortunately, something kept nagging at me. I wondered, as I walked along the store aisles, why genetically modified foods were in a store that requested customers to support breast cancer research. Isn't that counter-productive? Then I thought about the flu shots they push and thought about my children's vaccine injuries. I wondered how closely cancer and vaccines are related. I continued to ponder these issues, then cleaning chemicals came to mind and that was basically the last straw.

Seriously? Support cancer research, but sell cancer causing items? Sorry, no, try again. I will support breast cancer victims by feeding my children organic and non-sprayed foods as often as possible. I will keep their immune systems healthy by no longer vaccinating them. I will breastfeed until they self-wean so their cancer chances, and mine, are lessened. I will make available research and information. I will make sure my children have the chance to make educated decisions about their health. If my funds allow, I will continue to donate to individual families touched by cancer and other illnesses.

I suppose I am just venting my concerns, but if even one person stops and does some research, then I am thankful. The truth is that we can help spread information and sympathy through our actions even if we do not embrace the pink ribbon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SPD, Toilet Learning, and Communication

My son has been toilet learning for at least a year and a half. He is capable of staying dry and urinating in the toilet. He is somewhat capable of having BMs (bowel movements) in the toilet. He began toilet learning, by choice, before I expected him to do so. Yet, he is not completely finished with the process. No worries, I don't mind wiping the BM up or buying pull ups since he got a rash from cloth diapers and training pants regardless of how I washed or dried them or which fabric I used.

One issue that came up recently is my son's unwillingness to use speech as a communication tool. He can speak and often does speak at length. He is very intelligent and though he does zone out at times, he can snap back to reality as well. Today my son had a BM in his pull up type pant. Instead of calling me, he chose to take a toy and throw it at his oldest sister. Now keep in mind that this child has my father's pitching arm. My dad was up for a draft into minor league ball around age 19, but told the team no and chose to stay in college and play ball there instead so he could use the scholarship he earned. So the child has a killer arm and nails his target about 97 percent of the time. Poor big sister was not happy with him.

Once I heard my oldest child howl in pain, I checked on the situation and found that my youngest had a messy pull up, ten minutes before we had to leave the house of course, and he was having trouble letting me know what he needed in a socially appropriate way. I scooped him up and we chatted about kind, gentle ways to explain his need for a change. We checked on sister, then made sure little one had a new pull up.

My son was very resistant to learning sign language as an infant and toddler, but we have been working again because he is now interested. I suppose it is time to make a list of needs he may have and teach him those specific phrases in sign language.

I appreciate my daughter's patience with my son. I am thankful for sign language, which I hope will alleviate the current issue. Wish us good luck! :)