A fascinating column in the New York Times (yes, you read that right), about oxytocin and attachment theory. Not that we can explain everything using a simple hormone. But there is a lot of truth to this stuff. Especially:
Over the past few decades federal and state governments have spent billions of dollars trying to improve high schools. Much of the effort has gone into trying to improve individual math and reading scores. But the effects have been modest and up to 30 percent of students drop out — a social catastrophe.
The dropout rates are astronomical because humans are not machines into which you can input data. They require emotion to process information. You take kids who didn’t benefit from stable, nurturing parental care and who have not learned how to form human attachments, and you stick them in a school that functions like a factory for information transmission, and the results are going to be horrible.
If I had $37 billion, I would focus it on the crucial node where attachment skills are formed: the parental relationship during the first few years of life.
Here you will notice he does not mention the need for more – and better – institutional daycare (pardon me, early childhood education). Most normal people know the best place for a young child is at home with his or her parents. In most cases, anyway. Yet countless women are being pressured into returning to work shortly after having a baby, and we all know how popular institutional daycare is with politicians. Problem is, none of that is good for the kids (it’s not brilliant for the moms either).
You might also notice an issue the columnist didn’t mention. Thirty-five years after Roe v. Wade, it’s hard to argue that legalizing abortion has given us a society where every child is “wanted”. If they were as wanted as all that, kids wouldn’t be flung into daycare before turning one, and they wouldn’t have the kinds of emotional issues David Brooks talks about (to say nothing of what Miriam Grossman has documented).
Not bad, for a NYT column.