Emile Snyder

Hi all,

I like to chew ideas over a lot before swallowing, and reading stuff
that stretches my thinking about things helps me immeasurably. If
anyone here has had their eyes opened in any new and exciting ways by
books they've read in regards to parenting/education/relating to people,
I would appreciate pointers from them.

I'll go first ;)

"Our Babies, Ourselves" by Meredith Small
When my wife and I were burning through our midwife's library during her
pregnancy we borrowed and read "The Continuum Concept." I was
fascinated, but almost constantly irritated by what felt like
unsupported leaps of inference and much Freudian baggage. In googling
around we came across OBO and got it from the library. It's written
from an anthropology/socio-biology perspective, and explores
infant/toddler care across cultures. I spent lots of time feeling
annoyed by it, but it made me consider all sorts of stuff that I hadn't
thought of before, and had a huge long term impact on the range of
options we could see in how to relate to our child.

"Child's Work" by Nancy Wallace
I read this a few years before my wife and I were even thinking about
having children. At the time it felt fairly radical to me, although
after reading this list for awhile it might feel pretty "school at
home"ish. Although I did OK from an academic perspective I never
enjoyed or felt safe in school. Reading the Wallace's account of doing
it differently got me to really consider, for the first time in my life,
how one might get away from the structural problems built into our
concept of school. It brought up lots of strong emotions from my time
in school, and got me crying many times reading it and seeing for the
first time practical solutions to the pain that school was causing for
someones child.

"Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn
I think something on this list made me look up Alfie Kohn, and after
reading a few of the articles on his website I got this book from the
library. It's too long, both in just using too many words to say most
things, and in repeating itself alot in different sections, but has been
great to read regardless. As I mentioned in another post recently, it's
mostly a critique of behaviorist inspired methods of interacting with
people, with the focus on the problems with positive reinforcement
(since punishment is just too easy a target?) He cites *lots* of
research in this, and I haven't gotten down to reading any of it yet,
although I would like to. It's helped me think about how to structure
responses to friends/family that are more skeptical of the more
non-traditional directions we want to go as parents.

"Dumbing us Down" by John Gatto
I also read this when I was closer to being in the school system than
the parent of someone in it. Gatto strikes me as a bit strident at
times, but it also helped me to see the more "medium is the message"
problem with school at a time when I was waffling more about it.
Reading Gatto is sort of like reading the works of a religious convert;
he spent so much time as a "model" teacher, and clearly now looks back
on it with shame and horror.

"No Greater Joy" newsletter by the Pearls
Many months ago, when the Pearls were going to be giving a seminar in
Eugene Oregon, I saw a post by someone asking for advice with strategies
for making their displeasure known. (The Pearls advocate *extremely*
controlling and conservative parenting from a rigid religious
perspective, lots of spanking and guilt and molding of blank slates.) I
found their website while looking for more info, and saw that you can
subscribe to the newsletter for free. It's been a disturbing and
enlightening sort of "how the other half lives" view (although I kind of
worry what our mail carrier will think of us!) What's been hardest for
me is seeing how clearly the people writing for it are motivated by the
desire to do the right thing for their children. Don't get it if you
have high blood pressure ;)

"Finite and Infinite Games" by James Carse
I liked this one better when I was younger; I just re-read it and it
seems like it has lots more holes in it's reasoning and is more reliant
on cute/clever turns of phrase than when I read it the first time. It's
not really about education or parenting except insofar as it's sort of
all about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, power dynamics, and why
and how one chooses to live life. But it is kinda fun, and might give
you a new way to look at things.

I've seen people recommend "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So
Kids Will Talk" and "Siblings Without Rivalry" on the list before. Any
comments on what made you like them? Other book/author recommendations?