“Our Children” is the second book I read by Professor Robert Putnam of Harvard University. The previous “Beaching Alone” is about the fact that the American people are increasingly becoming “islands” in social life. Less contact, the developed corporateism of the United States in the past is rare today. The author expressed deep concern about this.
The full English title of the new book is “Our Children – The American Dream in Crisis.” In this book, Robert Putnam tells us that American society is not only popular with “islandism”, but the American dream of attracting immigrants from all over the world is no longer as beautiful as it used to be. The reason is simple. The class in American society has become more and more solidified. Children in the upper-middle society have received more and more resources to support them, and it is increasingly difficult for the bottom children to obtain these resources. This situation exacerbates the class gap that existed at the time of the birth of the child, leading to a growing gap in the social class in the United States.
Robert Patnam felt that the bottom children in the United States no longer have the same social support as they did when they were children, and they can realize their dreams of life; the American dream is gradually fading, and it is no longer an alarmist in a crisis.
Hierarchical solidification from multiple perspectives
In order to explore the class gap of the resources obtained during the growth of American children, Robert Putnam analyzed the details from the perspectives of family, school and community.
In the family education section, middle-class families are willing to spend time with their children, such as telling stories to children at night, paying attention to the education of children during the dialogue of family members during dinner, and overall, they are committed to fostering autonomy. An independent, self-reflective next generation. The lower class parents pay more attention to the child’s obedience, and rarely pay attention to the educational methods such as interaction and communication with the children. This difference in educational methods has an important impact on the growth of children’s personality and thinking ability.
At the school level, Robert Putnam compares the Troy Middle School where middle-class children are gathered and the Santa Ana Middle School where the bottom children are mostly. The important factor that shows the difference in child growth is not the school conditions, but more the child’s native family and family education. Impact. At the beginning of the chapter, the author used a table showing that the difference in teaching resources between the two middle schools is not large, and the difference is the students’ various achievements. The reason behind this is the difference in the “living source” group in middle schools.
Later, the author cites the stories of middle-class families and the bottom-level families—their children in the two middle schools, and finally concluded that the difference in the scores of the two middle school children ultimately depends on “who is your classmate”, which is very important. At the end of the chapter, the author points out that schools in the United States have now become “resonators”, that is, the interaction of peer groups, which is very important in the growth of children.
From the perspective of the neighborhood community, Robert Partnan revealed that the social capital, such as social relations, of the middle class family children is much more than the children of the bottom family. An important finding in American sociological research is that “weak relationships” may be more useful than “strong relationships” at critical stages of personal growth. The story in the chapter shows that the “weak relationship” of American middle-class families is far better than that of the bottom family. Their parents’ strong social networks provide a rich “weak relationship” for their growth. The children of the bottom family feel that they live in an “island” and are isolated.
The author judges in the article that the American social network is “collapsed from the outside to the inside”; that is to say, Americans are less and less socially connected and are increasingly returning to the family. This is consistent with the author’s point of view in Bowling Alone.
Enlightenment to Chinese parents
This book is a difference in the education of the American class. It is very helpful for us to understand the flow of education and social class in the United States. It is aimed at Chinese middle-class families who are currently in anxious education, and formulate educational policies for relevant departments to avoid poverty reproduction. It is also instructive.
Chinese middle-class families have similar anxiety and confusion about whether children should go to the United States to study in secondary schools, how to choose schools for children in the country, and how to train children.
Through the introduction of this book, we know that high-quality secondary schools in the United States, like China, have a lot of learning pressure, and children have the same heavy learning tasks in them. Chinese middle-class families have to send their children to the United States to attend secondary schools. They must go to high-quality secondary schools. The key to this is the family background of the middle school students. Because the family behind the classmates plays an increasingly important role in the growth of the classmates, it has a very direct impact on the child’s learning attitude and effect, thus affecting the overall learning atmosphere of the school.
The same principle applies to Chinese middle-class families who choose domestic schools. The author used to listen to friends, and it is very important to choose students in their choice of school. Take Jinling Primary School, a primary school where many of my colleagues and children go, as an example. Some friends have analyzed that teachers and teaching in Nanjing are not necessarily the best, but many of them are children of NTU teachers. NTU’s education for children is very good. Value, so the school is a better choice for children to go to school. It seems that it is true now.
From the perspective of pedagogy, this is also the reason: the growth of children, the school is only a part of the factors, more is the role and influence of family education. Therefore, the second revelation of this book to Chinese middle-class family education is to pay attention to the family education of children.
From what angle do you pay attention to it? In addition to the money invested by Chinese parents, it is necessary to invest time in the various classes, and more often, in the process of the child’s growth, pay attention to the Socratic dialogue, focus on inspiration, and cultivate the child. The child is independent and self-respecting. Children’s obedience can only be reflected in the understanding of the bottom line of some civilizations. In other fields, more children should be guided to understand and think. Including the choice of the future of the university’s professional and employment direction, parents should give the child more information about the direction of his interest, so that the child can choose in the comparison.
Learning from American elite family education
There are two points in the book of American elite family education, which is worthy of reference by Chinese parents.
First, American elite families often let their children work at the age of 14. In the words of an elite family child in the book case, he is not willing to go to work, but this experience makes him understand the value of his work and is meaningful to his growth. Chinese parents rarely recognize this and do it. Chinese parents are more likely to let their children study hard, and don’t care about other things. In fact, the growth of children is a comprehensive growth, and his growth in this field will often touch and promote the growth of other fields. At this point, it is reasonable to touch the class.
The second point is that the children of an elite family are not willing to inherit the family industry and want to choose the profession of firefighters. His father gave him a call from the local fire brigade and asked the child to personally get through the call to learn about the firefighter’s profession and let the children choose their own decisions. There is also a child of an elite family who wants to choose a doctor. His parents randomly arrange for him to go to the hospital for a period of internship, and let the children feel whether they are suitable for the profession.
This point is also very useful for Chinese parents. Many Chinese parents choose their careers, including college majors, from the perspective of whether they are suitable, but from the perspective of social income and status. This seems to be fine, but there will be problems in the actual process, especially if the child’s feelings and suitability are not considered. Moreover, in the above story, the American elite parents focus on guiding the children to contact and understand the society and reflect on themselves. This method is also worth learning from Chinese parents.
For the relevant departments, the central government now emphasizes “precise poverty alleviation.” In fact, education has played a very important role in the process of “getting out of poverty”. Moreover, in the process of leading the people to “get rid of poverty”, the government should pay more attention to avoiding poverty and reproduction. Because the mental and psychological poverty of parents will appear and influence in the education of their children. Therefore, on the one hand, the government should guide the people out of poverty, but also pay attention to the support of children’s education in poor families, including the construction of neighborhood community relations.
The Chinese dream is getting brighter than the fading American dream. And from the book Professor Putnam, we can still learn a lot.