Monday, December 20, 2004

Still not sure what to get for the pre-schooler on your holiday list? How about this fun toy, an electronic timer that is designed to improve children's eventual performance on standardized tests. I say eventual because the thing is designed for kids as young as four. We're not making four-year-olds take standardized tests yet, are we?

I shouldn't mock this. I don't have kids, and it's easy for the non-parents to make fun of people's concerns about their children. And I've never understood the SAT-angst, because I'm good at standardized tests. (I'm not showing off by saying that: it's a freakish, meaningless aptitude, like being double-jointed or able to wiggle your ears. It just happens to be a stupid skill that has allowed me all sorts of unearned educational opportunities.) But I can't help thinking that this is disturbing. Parents have long bought boring educational toys for their kids, and kids have always managed to have fun anyway. But shouldn't parents be worried about their kids' actual education, rather than their performance on tests? And if you want your kids to ace the SATs, aren't you better off buying them a book, or better yet, taking them to the library once a week?

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