Saturday, December 31, 2016

It Takes a Village

Book 74 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from August 31 - September 21

It Takes a Village: and Other Lessons Children Teach Us 
by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Summary (via the book jacket)
**Note: this book was published in 1996 so the number of years she's been in the public eye and her career positions are no longer accurate but I'm copying the summary as it was written at the time of publication**

For more than twenty-five years, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has made children her passion and her cause. Her long experience with children - not only through her personal roles as mother, daughter, sister, and wife but also as advocate, legal expert, and public servant - has strengthened her conviction that how children develop and what they need to succeed are inextricably entwined with the society in which they live and how well it sustains and supports its families and individuals. In other words, it takes a village to raise a child.
This book chronicles her quest - both deeply personal and, in the truest sense, public - to discover how we can make our society into the kind of village that enables children to grow into able, caring, resilient adults. It is time, Mrs. Clinton believes, to acknowledge that we have to make some changes for our children's sake. Advances in technology and the global economy along with other developments in society have brought us much good, but they have also strained the fabric of family life, leaving us and our children poorer in many ways - physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.
She doesn't believe we should, or can, turn back the clock to "the good old days." False nostalgia for "family values" is no solution. Nor is it useful to make an all-purpose bogeyman or savior of "government." But by looking honestly at the condition of our children, by understanding the wealth of new information research offers us about them, and, most important, by listening to the children themselves, we can begin a more fruitful discussion about their needs. And by sifting the past for clues to the structures that once bound us together, by looking with an open mind at what other countries and cultures do for their children that we do not, and by identifying places where our "village" is flourishing - in families, schools, churches, businesses, civic organizations, even in cyberspace - we can begin to create for our children the better tomorrow they deserve.

My Opinion
It's been 20 years since this book was written and a lot has changed; will it hold up?  The chapter on tv monitoring was really out of date because of technology updates and what kids are exposed to and how to manage it.  Unfortunately, most of the other chapters still applied.  Although the statistics have undoubtedly changed, we're still facing a lot of the same issues (lack of prenatal care and maternal support, women finding a work/home balance, etc.) today and they could be even worse.

I'm not a religious person so I skimmed the chapter "Children Are Born Believers".

I like this mind shift, a goal to apply to our approach to education, by philosopher Nelson Goodman.  "[Goodman] suggests that we would do well to learn to ask how rather than whether someone is smart. That question would shift the emphasis to helping individuals realize their potential, rather than whether they have potential in the first place."  

A Few Quotes from the Book
"...parenthood is not a second childhood, and children are not miniature versions of ourselves. From the beginning, they are individuals who must be respected for who they are and are meant to be."

"One of the family's - and the village's - most important tasks is to help children develop those habits of self-discipline and empathy that constitute what we call character. They enable us to be resilient in the face of the problems we encounter in life and to grow bigger, not bitter, in spirit."

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