This Little Kiddy Went to Market: The Corporate Capture of Childhood
by Sharon Beder, Wendy Varney, and Richard Gosden
Pluto Press , 352 pages
Released in May of this year, This Little Kiddy, gives parents some perspective on modern childhood. Oklahomans, and most Americans, will immediately notice the international flavor of the book. The authors are Australian, but rather than focus their analysis strictly on Australia, they spot trends from most English-speaking countries of the world. Beder, who wrote most of the book, has several books to her credit already, and all of them reflect an amazing ability to understand human nature across continents.
Early chapters deal with the ever-more-clever techniques used by advertisers and marketers to entice children. Most parents will recognize the “nag” factor when shopping with kids in tow. Of course, this is old news, but if misery loves company, U.S. parents may appreciate knowing they aren’t alone. Parents all over the English-speaking world share our pain.
Moving past these sad-but-all-too-familiar images, the subject becomes even more ominous. After a chapter on corporate-sponsored “educational” materials supplied to cash-strapped schools, we move to “Turning Schools into Businesses” in Chapter 6. This isn’t just your soft-drink vending machine type of school business, this is an exposé of for-profit schools. The reader learns of strategies employed by education entrepreneurs to undermine public schools, leaving a profitable niche for private schools.
The discussion moves on; we learn of methods used to influence policy for and in public schools. Exactly what do corporations want from public schools? Answer: a product⎯yes, a student is a product. Further, the type of product a corporations wants to “buy” (hire) is a compliant, docile, obedient worker who does not ask many questions! ‘
If you are of a left-wing political persuasion, you might say, “I knew this all along,” while those with more of a right-wing mindset may say, “Baloney/poppycock/balderdash!” The claims in the book are extensively documented (44 pages of footnotes to be exact).
Thus, this book is great food for thought for anyone interested in the next generation in this or any country.