Friday, March 09, 2007

A Note to our Daycare

Dear [Otherwise Great Pre-School],
I (Horace) was reading through the March newsletter this morning, and first, we both want to thank you all for producing such a thing--it's so great to know what our children are doing with you all, and to be able to work with them on concepts as they are learning them with you.

That said, something caught our eyes in this issue that troubled us some. We noticed that [Awesome Reading Teacher] is developing a unit on logos, we assume to begin to teach the rudimentaries of symbolic logic. As an English professor and a writer, respectively, we appreciate deeply this lesson and the developmental steps being fostered.

But we have to wonder whether using logos are the best way to teach symbols. We just think that our children are already bombarded enough by messages that turn them into consumers well before they are able to process the decisions that go into becoming part of the marketplace.

We, and many other parents, try to limit our children's access to commercials on tv, and when possible, limit the degree to which their clothes and toys make them walking advertisements. Certainly, their school should be among the last places to expose them to rampant consumerism.

Now, we wouldn't dream of asking [Awesome Reading Teacher] to scrap this unit at this late hour--hard work has surely gone into creating it, and making it useful to our children. But we might ask that repeating the unit in the future be reconsidered very carefully.

Finally, we did notice that one of the examples of logos mentioned in the newsletter was for McDonald's. This is the one place we'd really like to object on an immediate basis. We have a hard enough time convincing our kids that McDonald's and other fast food places are NOT where we want them to eat. [Great Pre-School] does such a great job at offering healthy nutrition in both practice and concept that we'd really hate to see it undermined when there are so many other ways to teach the very valuable lesson that is your objective.

Horace and Willow


Nels said...

Are you really going to send this? I hope so! I can't wait to hear the response. And you're right on about this.

Horace said...

Yup. Sent it before I posted this. The director's on vacation this week, so we may not hear back for a bit, though.

The Constructivist said...

I agree with your reasoning and wish you the best of luck with the pre-school. If anything your letter was far too kind: what is a logo a symbol of, anyway?! (Acually, maybe that would be a great question for the little tykes!)

But in a larger sense, aren't you worried the battle's already lost? Or that it must be fought on many levels at the same time?

My older daughter was recognizing logos well before she was two (on the "if you can't beat them turn them into a game" theory, when I was driving her to day care back in the States we would play a "spot the UPS truck" game). Given how unavoidable commercialism is in capitalist culture (remember the Futurama episode where Frye [Northrop?] was objecting to the commercials in his dreams and was asked where commercials were in the year 2000--and launched into a 45-second list, ending with "but not in dreams!"?), I think it might be better to encourage the teacher to include in future lessons a discussion of what logos are for and what's the kids think are good and bad about them. The kids should learn the first baby steps toward critical media literacy in pre-school, so parents can reinforce the lessons at home.

Even though my older daughter is now crazy about Pretty Cure (a cartoon whose themes are actually fairly feminist; it's not as shallow "girl power"-y as I feared it would be), we've told her no, when you're older, and takai! (too expensive) so many times, she now says it for us whenever she sees a toy she wants from the show. We've decided to be less purist on clothes and shoes than on overpriced toys; in fact, knowing PC and wearing some gear has given her a first in with some girls in her day care here in Japan who have now become her good friends--no small thing when her Japanese was way behind them in January when she started yochien coupled with the initial hesitation many felt when they realized her dad is American.

Looking forward to hearing about the response to your letter.

Bardiac said...

I was through most of your letter thinking, WOW, that's one heck of a day school that's introducing philosophical issues about the power of language... and then I got to the McDonald's thing and smacked myself in the head.

Oh, THAT meaning of logos. Well. Yeah. I'm less impressed with your daycare now. And totally unimpressed with my basic reading skills.

The Constructivist said...

Now if they can just work Naomi Klein into the lesson plan....