In the op-ed section of the Post this morning, Alfie Kohn, one of the smartest voices in the debate about American education, challenges the myth that today’s parents coddle their kids more than ever, and as a result, those children are the most undisciplined generation in history.
It must be true since it says so in dozens of books and articles on the subject.
And, of course, there are plenty of stories about parents who refuse to set limits on their kids, and kids that areÂ undisciplined narcissists.ï»¿
Except, as Kohn notes, there are just two problems with those “what everyone knows” facts.
Social observers have been saying exactly the same thing about each generation of kids for more than a century.
And there is almost no research to support any of these claims, with what has been done largely based on questionable methodology.
There’s no evidence, then, that today’s parents are more permissive than parents of yesteryear, or that today’s young people are more narcissistic. But even if there were, no one has come close to showing that one causes the other.
Neither logic nor evidence seems to support the widely accepted charge that we’re too easy on our children. Yet that assumption continues to find favor across the political spectrum. It seems that we’ve finally found something to bring the left and the right together: an unsubstantiated knock on parents, an unflattering view of kids and a dubious belief that the two are connected.
When it comes to the debate over issues related to American education, it’s not surprising that both often go missing.