Thursday, May 03, 2007

Freakonomics


H. always has a book on the go, anything from Harry Potter to advanced maths; he has broad tastes you could say.
Personally I wouldn't touch maths having comprehensively failed every maths exam I've ever taken. My mind scampers into the quiet, dark corners of my brain when a number comes into view and I'm as capable of calculating the area of my kitchen that needs tiling as doing the pole vault. So it's a good job I fell in love with a mathematician.
Imagine my shock, then, when I find myself absorbed in an economics book. It's called "Freakonomics" it's got a garish cover and it describes its author as a "rogue economist" who "explores the hidden side of everything" None of this would normally tempt me but H. would keep reading bits out loud...
All of the book is fascinating but just now with our attention fixed on grand parenting this was the chapter that was the most gripping: "What makes a perfect parent?" and before you prepare to whip yourself with the shame of bringing up your children the wrong way, don't bother because none of the following factors affect your child's test scores:
The child's family is intact
The neighbourhood
The child's mother works
The child attended Head Start
The child goes regularly to museums
The child is regularly smacked
The child frequently watches television
The child's parents read to him every day.
In essence then all the days I spent in museums, all the hours I spent reading to my children, keeping from vegetating in front of the TV didn't affect their educational progress at all whereas the fact that we're both university graduates, had our children slightly later than average and have masses of books did...

So I felt absolutely no guilt yesterday as I watched "Grey's Anatomy" with the baby on my knee.
(Don't worry, I'm not confusing parenting and grand parenting here. The baby spends many hours in my care as his mother works.)

15 comments:

Kate said...

Angela, what a surprise to see both your caption and your commentary. Steve L was one of my students when he was in high school, a brillant and very funny young man who also befriended my own son when both of them were in elementary school. Saw Steve a year ago during my former school's class reunion summer festival. The book is STILL on the best-seller list!!~

Kate said...

PS The photo is lovely!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Thanks so much for visiting my blog! Personally, I think all the hours I kept my kids from watching tv, did crafts and schlepped them to museums has done them a world of good.:)

Or maybe it was for ME to not go stir crazy! Love your blog.

Lidy

Open Grove Claudia said...

I love that book. The Steves are a bit of hereos of mine. Some of their research has been proven wrong, but it's fun anyway to just think outside the damn box. You can get an update on the research on their blog. Levitt is a really cool guy - 2 biological kids, 3 adopted kids.

It's nice of you to love this baby so much. You are pretty awesome too!

Shaz said...

Hey Ang what a joy to have that little bub with you, I am envious he really is beautiful.
Sounds like an interesting book although I would have borked at the maths thing aswell.
Love seeing a new post I am missing you.

Kerry-Anne said...

This is a book I've been meaning to read for ages. Now you've got my interest up again...

What's "slightly later than average" by the way? I don't know what the average age of new mothers is these days; I only know that most of my friends started having kids at around 24 - which seemed really young to me.

CJ said...

Expanding my horizons again...I was really interested in that book so I googled it and found the blog mentioned in the comments above. Interesting stuff. Other points of view are always interesting!

You're so lucky you get to spend time with that lovely grandson of yours ;)

Jilly said...

Perfect parenting, it would seem to me, who is childless, would be to have parents (or one parent) who show their love and who instill in their child a sense of self-belief - 'YOU can do it!'

But a child needs to know, above all, that it is loved, else it doesn't know how to love or receive it in the big wide world.

Lots of cuddling and kissing is important, I'd think.

Jilly said...

Angela

Comments I post to your Nice blog are coming back to me. They come to me from that June Yahoo address you have/had. I have forwarded two on to you but have had no response so am wondering if there is some problem my end/your end. Dunno? Can you check your email Inbox.

angela said...

Thanks for your comments. It's nice to hear about the Steve's and the website.
H. tells me that our book is a reprint and in the back are arguments refuting the criticisms on their conclusions.
For me the scariest and perhaps the most depressing thought was that up to a certain age what we are counts for more than what we do for our children.

roger said...

It's one of those books just off my radar - you know, you see it, cherish it, but think not just yet.

angela said...

Kerry-Anne: my idea of slightly older than average was 30 though the book says "older mothers" without giving an age.
You're right 24 seems too young to me but then my daughter's 19 and she's a very competent mother.
Angela

Marisa said...

Well, as a working mom, I guess I can make up for it a bit with the reading every day, which we do as a family every night.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

My eldest children can certainly wait until they make me a grandmother; however, this gives me quite a bit of reassurance!! And yes, Grey's Anatomy rocks!
xx, JP

cityfarmer said...

Hey, I just bought that same pot of johnny jump ups