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).