Their Name is Today, Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World, by Johann Christoph Arnold, is written to bring immediacy to the vital role of raising children today. Arnold doesn’t pull punches, he leaps into the common argument of overpopulation ruining the planet (page 1) with his assertion that greed and selfishness do a much better job of daily ruination. Instead, he states that parents and teachers are well equipped and vital to fight against such loud foes. His points reflect the need for better methods in raising any set of children, starting with a recall of the wonders they allow us to revisit again and again.
Chapter 2 focuses on “Play is a child’s work”, encouraging anyone who interacts with children to allow them the time (more vital than planned outings, money or even supplies) to explore their world in playing. His quotes though the book begin each chapter with thoughtfulness, and are spattered throughout from a wide range of sources. Albert Einstein, to family, to interesting studies and other authors or random gleanings, each one is a delight supporting his topic. I particularly liked the inclusion of a letter written by Sluyter, a resigning kindergarten teacher, expressing her opinion why American education is woefully inept at teaching our young, with it’s focus on meetings and scores rather than the individual strengths of teacher and child(p.20-22). Typically, Arnold does not address why such deficiencies are present, his method is more encouragement and peaceful argument.
Arnold is the senior pastor of Bruderhof, a Christian commune/sect, and speaks and writes about children, education, dying, and marriage subjects often. Bruderhof advocates a family style of living in which no member has an individual bank account or possessions, rather exhibiting first Christian church practices of communal living and shared income and expenditure. As a result, this is a very small and tightly controlled environment – several sites (some assisting with efforts to exit such societies) did note that it is possible to tour and observe their efforts easily.
Arnold makes for well-thought arguments, but his answers are esoterical, rather than practical for those of us who live and work in a typical American main-stream environment (not his commune). It did inspire some thought upon the subject, but the fleshing out of the actual change will require either my own creativity or another middle-ground author (something along the lines of Focus on the Family, for example).
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing, in return for my unbiased review.