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What I Learned From the Privilege Meme - Mo's Journal — LiveJournal
January 3rd, 2008
11:42 am


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What I Learned From the Privilege Meme

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[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
I guess my quibble is with the word 'privilege'. Reading aloud was de rigeur for most families I knew and education was a priority---my dad's was completely taken care of by the GI bill post-WWII and Mom's was hard-won. I think they considered it part and parcel of their parental responsibilities to make sure my sister and I got the best education possible. It wasn't a matter of 'privilege' to them: it was a very necessary part of parenting. A change of semantics, perhaps? And values!

If your parents are working all the time, to have money to keep the electricity on, there might not be anybody home to read to you ... I suggested reading Katherine Newman's The Missing Class for case studies. Since welfare reform, staying home because you don't have childcare is not an option. And while I suppose people shouldn't have kids if they can't afford them, well ... easy to say.
[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
Interesting. In my own case, my mother did not start working outside the home until I was 11. And by then we were living in an extended family situation with her parents, so there was always someone at home whether we liked it or not. *G* And, once again, I have to cite the inflation issue (which I am completely convinced has been skewed in 'official' reports for at least 30 years now). Electricity bills didn't eat up huge chunks of income, even WITH old-fashioned oil burners. Ditto groceries, property taxes, insurance, etc. etc. My parents owned their own home right after they were married---it was possible then. It really was a different world and I don't think this 'meme' does anything but type what HAD been quite the norm of most middle-class families as 'privilege'.
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
I don't think it's inflation by itself as much as a combination of wage stagnation with some inflation. Inflation has actually been pretty low and some things have actually gone down in price. Although apparently all that's about to change.

Anyway, I was using the phrase "keep the electricity on" as a metaphor for "pay the bills" or whatever.

My mother was home till I started high school. Life was much easier after that.

Edited at 2008-01-04 02:55 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 5th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)

If your parents are working all the time, to have money to keep the electricity on, there might not be anybody home to read to you ...

And if your parents are illiterate, they can't read to you.

And if they are literate but don't understand that reading to kids fosters their literacy, they might not think to read to you.

And if they think of reading to kids as a way to entertain them until
they can read, they might stop once the kids can read.

And if they think of reading to kids as just a way to entertain them,
they might turn on the tv instead, because then they can do something
else that needs to get done at the same time.

Lots and lots of kids do not get read to by their parents. The large
body of research that shows that being read to as a child is a great
predictor of life long literacy comes from looking at plenty of peopel
who were *not* read to as children as well as those who were.

Perri Klass - author and pediatrician - is the founder of a literacy
program based in pediatricians' offices. They give a children's book
to the family at every office visit and the pediatrician or nurse
practitioner *reads* it to the child during the visit. The idea is to
instill in the parents that this is an important thing to do by having
a person in highly respected position model it.
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