Column #34, posted April , 2007

My Grandson Visits

My grandson (Milo) visited for a few days this week. He is just shy of one and a half. Here is some of what I learned from his visit.

The toys they make for kids are just awful. He had a drum made by Leap Frog that did everything but make drum noises. It was constantly yabbering about what he had just learned when he hadn’t learned anything. He liked turning it on and off.

There is a Barbie computer that makes the Leap Frog Drum look like a work of genius. It was made for girls but I thought he’d like it because his parents are always keeping him off their computer. He did like it. But it made no sense. It actually asks the kid what friends he doesn’t want to talk to. He just wanted to push buttons and make something happen. I am sure the Barbie geniuses will say it wasn’t made for his age. Maybe so. But I wouldn’t let any girl for whom it was made near it.

Milo Learns About Hoses

- no toys or books in sight -

The books they have for kids don’t teach kids much of use. See my daughter’s blog for a literary analysis of Milo’s books.

My complaint is not that the stories are absurd, which they are, nor that no kid could really understand them, which they can’t, nor that the stories are so awful with the real lessons that they teach, that they should be kept from kids, which they should be.

No, my complaint is that they are clearly meant to entertain adults. Kids should be reading about stuff that actually happens to kids or that actually happens to the adults in their lives. Stories should be about going to the bank, or the park, or watching food being made or driving in a car. Stories should not have plots. Plots are for adults. Kids need to figure out how the world works and we confuse them with literary devices meant to amuse the parents.

Of course the real issue here is that this state of affairs continues on in school. Schools are meant to satisfy parents (and politicians.) So we teach stuff that doesn’t matter to kids and impresses adults – like how to find a country on a map or how to find lines of symmetry.

I have an idea. Why not meet kids where they are and ignore what adults want.

Nah, too crazy. It would result in kids who actually wanted to go to school and we would all be confused by that.

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