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Do We Really Want to be Number One?


I was reading an article in the May, 2008 issue of Boston Magazine. The Feature editorial was on power, apropos of this post. In the departments section is an amusing article called "Confessions" by Lisa Liberty Becker. It's on hers and parents opposition to all-day kindergarten in Concord, Massachusetts. It passed.

What struck me was her reference to "preschool tutoring" (page 92). What in the Hell is preschool tutoring? You know, I didn't even want to bother Googling it - sort of a tacit protest that such a monstrosity exists. I did anyhow, and here is a preschool tutoring link Now I can die. I've seen it all.

You may remember a feature on Nightline called "Inside the Cutthroat Preschool Wars" from 2006 on the savage competition of parents to get their children into elite preschools in San Francisco and New York City.

There was a cartoon in the New Yorker a few years ago (sorry, I couldn't locate) of one little boy telling another that he couldn't hang out with him now that Globalization has made free time more scarce.

The need to stay on top of the world is now petering down to the way we raise our children. Actually, it has since we've been on top (1918), but we always had the economic fat to fall back on. We generally left competition to Little League and that crucible of preparation for the adult rat race, high school.

But now, market forces brought on by Globalization; the rise of China and India; the Seven Tigers; and, let's not forget, the greater disparity in income distribution is causing some to throw their most precious assets into the marketplace. "My kid will have an advantage, even if it means all day kindergarten!"

Do we really want to keep up our standard of living if it means we can't enjoy life any more, are worked to the bone, and are possibly doing irreparable psychological harm to our offspring?

Maybe it's time we give up on our standard of living. Maybe it's time to get a new standard.

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