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Monday, November 28, 2011

Playing Blocks: Art or Science, or Why Some Whiny Intellectuals Need To Stop Breeding

All right, I'm back from the turkey-induced coma. Actually, we've been sick all weekend. Hacking, coughing, sneezing and waking up at 5:30 am. Not cool. So today, I'm still dragging and decided to put my scheduled work hours to a good use: to catch up on global news. I opened an online NYT edition and what do I see on their front page? A piece intriguingly titled "With Blocks, Educators Go Back to Basics". After reading first few paragraphs I thought this was a joke. Then I flipped to the second page and realized that a very serious matter is being discussed: How to play blocks with your children.

Simple, right? Intuitive, right? Apparently, some neurotic overachieving parents need to ATTEND WORKSHOPS on playing blocks. Big, huge, sloppy WTF anyone? Or is it just me who thinks that building towers and tunnels and houses and other stuff out of wooden blocks is part of what you do with kids? Well, lets look at the article closely, because some paragraphs just leave me in awe. I quote:

"Huddled together on the reading rug of a prekindergarten classroom on the Upper West Side, three budding builders assembled a multilayered church with a Gothic arch. Nearby, another block artist created a castle with a connecting courtyard. Meanwhile, a fifth toiled earnestly on a shaky tower, eliciting oohs and aahs from across the room when it came tumbling down."

Block artists? Budding builders? Oohs and aahs? Sounds intriguing... Let's keep reading on:

"J. S., a self-described “block consultant,” advised the group to engage their children in building by photographing their work."

Block consultant? Really? Photographing?? Those pre-kindergarten kids and their parents have "block consultants"? What's next: Renting a gallery to exhibit your child's pre-k watercolors? Or recording their musical achievements? Do they also have nutritionists and assigned nose wipers on staff? What kind of school is it? Let's see:

"Eva Moskowitz, the former city councilwoman who runs a fast-growing network of charter schools, said her schools had created a “religion around blocks,” and she proudly advertises their fully outfitted block labs alongside the chess program and daily science classes. The International School of Brooklyn is developing a program using blocks to reinforce foreign-language acquisition. And Avenues, the for-profit school scheduled to open next year in Greenwich Village, is devoting a large section of its kindergarten floor to a block center.<...> Fretta Reitzes, who runs an early-education conference every November at the 92nd Street Y, said the block workshop sold out so quickly this year that she added a second one."

Oh, it makes perfect sense now: Upper middle class New York school, where common sense is permanently suspended and replaced with absurdity and new age crap. Block center? Workshops? How neurotic and sad do these parents need to be that they have to taught by a "block consultant" how to play blocks with their kids. Here, let me consult you: get a bucket of wooden blocks, dump them on the floor and actually let your rugrats go at it. This will be $500. I'll even throw in a free song and dance about natural selection and soft-bellied sissies in with it. I bet you that it'll still be cheaper than those trendy workshops... and I'm an awesome dancer, just ask my kids.

In my opinion, if you need a workshop on how to play with your child, you should not have procreated. Your genes are obviously inferior and in the good old days, you'd probably get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger because you wouldn't have been able to climb a tree and there was no need for lawyers back then. I just hope that these people's kids get a healthy dose of common sense and life from somewhere despite charter schools, block workshops and Mandarin lessons. Maybe from their nannies?

Anyway, the article continues in the same fashion for TWO PAGES!!! About playing blocks. With pre-schoolers. Must have been a slow week, NYT. For those of you with a healthy sarcastic sense of humor, feel free to check out the rest below:

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