I have just finished reading a new book on parenting: The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. As her title suggests, she argues that "parenting" is not a practice that one can master, like becoming a master carpenter. Rather, it is the process of nurturing the relationship between parent and child, like a gardener tends a garden, providing children with the sustenance and support that they need to flourish.
She writes, "Childhood is designed to be a period of exploration and innovation, learning and imagination," and bemoans the fact that, "ironically, in a society that values creativity and innovation more and more, we provide fewer and fewer unfettered opportunities for children to explore."
Gopnik also discusses how children learn, attachment and relationships, the "work of play." It is quite a dense text requiring close reading, but with interesting perspectives about what modern parents think they need to do, rather than how they need to be. "We don't care for children because we love them; we love them because we care for them."
This book will be available for teachers and parents to borrow from our school library in the New Year.