All right, I admit that it’s not exactly directly related to piano music, but I have to share what my dad is up to. He’s a psychologist who (roughly speaking) deals with learning, with helping people learn how to learn, and has written what I think is quite a marvelous book about raising intelligent children — not in the narrow and fairly silly Mensa sense of “intelligent,” but in a broad, practical, rich sense of the word that might challenge some ideas you have about what intelligence really is. His writing is full of wisdom, optimism, and just plain good advice; it is a wonderful book, of interest even if you’re not a parent. And yes, I say that in part because he’s my dad, but I mostly say it because the book is really good.
Anyway, I’ve put together a web site to support the book, intelligenceriver.net. We’re putting the full text of the book up on the site one chapter at a time, and there is also a news section (discerning readers may note a faint similarity in the blog software!) and a forum for discussing parenting and the mysterious human mind and that sort of thing. The site is only just hatching out of its shell, so we’re looking to get feedback, and get discussion rolling in the forum. It would be wonderful if all of the good and discerning people who read In the Hands made a visit. (Pretty please!)
Here, to whet your appetite, is a favorite passage of mine from the first chapter of the book:
You’ll do your best job for your child if you’re having fun. I want to help you approach the task of raising your child with confidence and pleasure. Every word here is meant to calm a fear, almost a panic, that has come to pervade the way our culture thinks about children. We seem to be taking childhood awfully seriously as we step into the new millennium. We hear that our children will have to fight and claw their way into the world if they expect to do more than survive. Even when we try not to listen, the messages of ruthless competition, dwindling opportunity, increasing demands — the threat to these people we love so much — chews on us. It makes us fearful. It can even corrode our common sense and our natural instincts. Our children have to be prepared! Every minute is important! Every homework assignment has to be finished!
Wanting to prepare our kids for the worst, we are, paradoxically, in danger of giving them a taste of it. Real intelligence, I constantly argue, is built on a base of enjoyment. Learning is what humans do best. It is our natural state. When we try to force the process, we are in danger of thwarting our own good intentions.