25 February 2009

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. And evidently braininess too.

Okay, so perhaps I'm taking this a bit personally because I am not a tidy person by any stretch of the imagination. However, my husband is, and he's not a reader by any stretch of the imagination. So where does that leave this study, reported in School Library Journal about the link between early literacy and orderliness at home? My husband spends an inordinate amount of time cleaning our house (honestly, it's an obsession.) I spend a lot of time reading with our eight year old daughter (my obsession.) I refuse to accept that her early literacy skills, which were all age appropriate and heart-warming to this ole librarian, had anything to do with my husband's concern for straightened pillows and smooth duvet covers, even in a supplementary capacity. But clearly one of us is wasting our time.

I don't understand the drive behind studies like this one. It's like those articles that come out in Time and Newsweek every so often stating something insanely obvious such as, "Love makes you feel good". Wow. Did I need a ten page expose to tell me that? The secret to early literacy is books, books, books, and books, with a helping of books on the side. No need to reinvent the wheel. Sure, a quite room is a nice place to enjoy a book. Heck, even a quiet room that's tidy is a nice place to enjoy a book. But your child is not going to Harvard just because you kept an uncluttered house! Children from loud, noisy homes, find their own spaces for reading--their own quiet. There is something so clinical and contrived about studies like this, not to mention bogus, as if it's possible to pave the perfect path to send kids "along the road to learn" (to quote John Burningham.) But reading is a life-long work in progress that can't be boxed and presented as a set of ready made conditions. And well-intentioned as I'm sure this study is meant to be, all it's going to do is stress out parents (predominantly moms, I should think) who already feel that they are not adequately preparing their kids for life, and infuriate "professionals in the field" like myself.

1 comment:

lori.barber said...

With all the disclaimers at the end of the article, it sounds like they haven't really discovered much at all. But I wouldn't tell the husband and discourage all the cleaning!

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