Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Their Name Is Today – Johann Christoph Arnold

© 2014 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York

Children are the vast, untouched treasure of the world. And it seems as though our American Society is bent on crushing that treasure. We need a breath of fresh air that brings childhood back to our children. This is the call of writer, counselor, pastor Christoph Arnold in his new book, Their Name Is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World.

As with any book, I cannot say that I agree with every word of what Arnold writes, but he does bring to light some important research and thinking concerning the direction that childhood and education is viewed in America today.

In this little book, I was reminded of the innocence of children. An innocence that is often overlooked, misunderstood, and even squashed in an attempt to make our children to become “little adults.” Some of the tragedies of our modern approach to education (in the name of trying to “be competitive on the world stage”) that the author notes are starting our children in rigid classroom settings at too early an age, overuse of screen presence in the lives of these little ones, and expectations that even some adults cannot live up to.

In the midst of a world where government agencies are invading the education space trying to correct what’s wrong with the next generation, we are losing the next generation. Setting standards that are impossible to reach only breeds discouragement. Is it okay to let our children fail? Of course it is—if the failure is in genuine effort. It is not however, safe nor appropriate to set goals that our children cannot even begin to reach. Children are not “little adults” they are children, so let them be . . . children.

Arnold suggests that it is appropriate, and even preferable, to allow children a few more years to play, so that they are actually for classroom activity when the time comes. Perhaps we would see more classroom success without coddling, if we let children be children for a year or two longer. I personally believe that three years of age is excessively too young for a child to be immersed into a classroom setting. Besides, the more of this pushing we place on our schools, the less likely our good teachers are to be good teachers. The newer trends thrust upon educators by politicians (who are not really educators, nor do they understand educators) forces them into cycle after cycle of paper pushing rather than educating.

In this new book calls for a move to letting children be children, to delay the leash known as “screen time” as long as possible (let the children play outdoors, exploring, rather than with the newest techno-gizmo), and to love them with the love of a teacher or parent. Our goal is to have healthy children, not neurotic rat-race participants.

This is a book that would make a perfect Christmas gift for a favorite teacher who is feeling overwhelmed in today’s marketplace.

I highly recommend this book for parents, teachers, or anyone who is concerned about children and give it five out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 28, 2014

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.]

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