Gwyneth Paltrow is advertising for a Tutor for her children. I read about it in the Times last weekend and so of course I had to Google it and found what might be her ad here (it fits the description in the Times fairly closely). You might be interested to know the requirements for a tutor for two kids, aged 8 and 6:
‘The ideal candidate will have received a classical education, including Latin and Greek, and be familiar with such elements as the history of thought from a philosophical perspective. He or she should also be musically fluent and play at least one instrument well. In addition, language skills are essential and the Tutor should have fluent French and at least one other of Spanish, Italian, Mandarin or Japanese. The Tutor will also need to be fit and healthy, enjoy many sports and pastimes both indoors and out, including painting, art, or art history and drama, as well as sports such as chess, tennis, fencing or a martial art.’
It goes on to say that when the tutor collects the boy from school they might stop by an art gallery on the way home.
Now I almost feel inadequate as a mum, let alone as a tutor. (If only I had stuck with the Mandarin.)
Except I don’t.
I also recently read a really interesting post on Oh Mammy about a similar topic: Why do we worry so much when it comes to how we raise our kids? And I think there’s been a few others in the past few weeks on the similar subject. Of course it got me thinking.
I am surrounded by anxious middle class parents where I live. One woman rings the school every other week because she feels her daughter didn’t get a fair chance at something or was left out of something else or because a B grade was given for art where an A grade should have been because ‘isn’t her art good enough? We have tutors…’
Ugh! Ok, so she’s two standard deviations away from normal, but even the ‘normal’ ones amongst us get a bit anxious when we see the Superkids that do Everything (me included). Are we giving our children enough? Will they have a chance against kids like those when they all hit 18?
And then of course there’s this freshly publicised Tiger Parenting business.
Sometime in the months or years before I had my daughter I read an article about Hothoused Children who are busy every minute of their little lives until they fall asleep at night. The article was based loosely on a meta-study (a collection of lots of studies on the same subject) that showed Hothoused Children were not in fact at any more advantage to ‘Regular Children’ (I don’t remember what the article called them) and that Hothoused Children had the disadvantage of not learning how to entertain themselves during periods of ‘inactivity’.
It convinced me that I did not want to raise my child like that. I don’t think I would have been very good at it anyway.
I chose a school that was known to be good but not intensely so. I signed my daughter up for cello and ballet, an art class for a while. She has moved on to piano. I try to teach her the benefit of good study habits, that it’s important to not let what you think of the teacher interfere with how well you do in that subject, that time to unwind is as important as time in front of the books, that even adults make mistakes so you have to be patient with people older than you as well, the reasons why recycling is good but flawed, that when you drive you should use all the mirrors and watch far ahead of you as well as just ahead, that pets depend on us and so we need to plan around them–even neon tetras and mollies, that ice in a river is not safe to stand on, that climbing trees is fun but only when you pay attention and not while wearing flip flops, and so on…
My style of parenting is more ‘managed wildflower meadow’ than ‘hot-housing’. And there’s not much for a Tiger in this meadow either.
My daughter regularly scores amongst the top 1-5 in her year in most subjects, she received a distinction in cello, she loves playing piano, she is friendly, she can hold a conversation with adults, she says thank you for presents, she enjoys cooking sometimes, she sings while she hoovers, she complains if she thinks she is being asked to do more than her (step)siblings but accepts the answer when it is explained that everyone has their turn to do jobs, she has a talent with animals, she likes to read, she thinks high jump and hurdles are fun but really loves horse riding and rowing, she feels hurt if a friend betrays her, she loves to travel. My daughter is as content to play in her treehouse or draw horses as she is to play on the Wii in her spare time. In other words, she is a fairly happy, pleasant, well-rounded kid.
Wildflower Parenting seems to work ok too.
But one last word on the subject: if I could afford it would I have advertised for a tutor like the one described? No, probably not. If I was very wealthy I would still raise my daughter in a similar way. However, just like with childcare, if this tutor helps G&C be better parents, then that’s just exactly what they should do.