Elkind, David (2001). The Hurried Child:
Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon.
3rd ed. Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing.  244 pp.

     Dr David Elkind, a Professor of Child Study is a strong advocate for the protection of childhood. He believes in preserving the sanctity of childhood as a stage of life and valuing childhood is giving the recognition that "it is the children's right to be children, to enjoy the pleasures [because] childhood is the most basic human right of children" (p. 221).  Sadly, that value and right is often violated.
     The violation is experiencing by children living in a hurried and hurrying contemporary society where they are being hurried into adulthood. The first type of violation is calendar hurrying when children are asked to "understand beyond their limits of understanding, to decide beyond their capacity to make decisions, or to act willfully before they have the will to act" (p. 205). The second type is clock hurrying and this happens "whenever, through our excessive demands over a short time, we force children to call upon their energy reserves (p. 205). The sense of the society in a rapid state of changing and adults in the act of hurrying captured in the book is familiar to many readers because "we are always on the lookout for ways of doing things faster and more expeditiously. We have the supermarket to speed up shopping and fast-food to speed up eating" and the "first utilitarian gift we usual give to our children is a watch! (p. 204).  The reality that the society has developed into a pressure cooker to transform children into miniature adults is described in chapter one.   
     The portrait of the hurried child is a stressed child is painted in chapter eight. The four major sources that contribute significantly to hurrying children to grow up are parents, schools, media, information technology and research findings (chapters 2-4). In the home, children are stressed by responsibility overload in a two-income family, parental responsibility if it is a one-parent family and emotional responsibility if the family is dysfunctional (pp. 171-176). In school, children are hurried when they are expected to meet "uniformed standards as measured by standardized tests," hence, their "individual differences in mental abilities and learning rates and leaning styles" are ignored (p. 50).  The media of television, books, magazines, music and movies stress children by "giving them information for which they are not intellectually or emotionally ready" (p. 183). Dr Elkind gives an evaluation of the good, bad and ugly values being transmitted through the various media (chapter 4) that parents and teachers of children's ministry may wish to take heed. Conclusion on the use of computer programmes, games and lapware to "give children an edge in computer literacy, self-confidence, or self-esteem" is questionable (pp. 102-108). Introducing children to the Internet may be an early exposure to "pornography and other mine fields on the Web" (p. 113).  You may use the Stress Test (p. 184) to assess the various  stressors your child has experienced recently.
     The price of hurrying children to become miniature adults places a heavy toll on children and the harm done on them may be irreparable (chapter 9).  For example, children between two to eight years old "tend to perceive hurrying as a rejection, as evidence that their parents do not really care about them" (pp. 207-213). Another startling fact is that "stresses of growing up fast often result in troubled and troublesome behavior during adolescence" (p. 12) because adolescents "pay us back in the teen years for all the sins, real or imagined, that we committed against them when they were children" (p. 211).  They tend not to forget they have been hurried when they were children and to blame parents for their misbehavior.
What can parents do to help children cope with the stress of being pressurized to grow up fast?  The author recommends that it is important to first recognize that they cannot change the basic trust of the society, "for which hurrying is the accepted and valued way of life" (p. 205).  Some readers may differ from his view. However, he believes that parents can control the habit of unreasonably hurrying their children. They may begin with an understanding of how children tend to perceive the stress of hurrying. Other workable suggestions include the use of the "Contract Evaluation Form (p. 206), understanding the value and the use of "play" and "how to live on twenty-four hours a day" to bringing up children (pp. 213-221 & chapter 7).  Media and schools hurry children but it is not uncommon that they tend to relinquish the full responsibility on parents to guard their children from learning unhealthy values or poor academic performance respectively.  They can make parenting more difficult in a contemporary society.  In response, parents can form support groups to voice their concerns and feedback   
      The book is about "hurrying children to grow up, too fast too soon" in our contemporary society.  It is not a myth but a reality, so, you should not read it in a hurry. Or, you may miss the very essence of these questions, "How should we value human life from God's perspective?" and "Do we really value each developmental period equally and give unto each stage of the human life what is appropriate to that stage? 
    (p. 221). 
(Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)

    On 23rd October chapel was taken by Dr. Philip Satterthwaite, who spoke on Prov. 1:7 ('The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge'), and Prov. 9:10 ('The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding'). These verses may seem to refer to the fear of God in a restrictive way, in effect putting limits on what we can think about. And Proverbs as a whole may seem to express a narrow outlook: on first reading it seems very much a book which tells us what to think and do. But 'the fear of the LORD' is fundamentally a broad and inclusive concept: it expresses a view according to which those who are committed to God are to express that commitment in all areas of life. And Proverbs similarly wants people to use their eyes, ears and minds, to think carefully about everything that takes place in God's world. The wide range of topics covered by Proverbs (wealth and poverty, use of the tongue, being a good neighbour, being a good friend, marriage and parenting, politics and statesmanship, sexual ethics, to name but some) suggests that Proverbs has a large vision of what fearing God involves. One of the aims of Proverbs, indeed, is to help us understand what it means to fear God (2:1-5).

    But Proverbs uses a subtle teaching method. It presents us with a series of statements about the way the world is. But these statements cannot all be taken in the same way. To start with, most of the sayings in Proverbs are general statements, not absolute truths: note, for example, by seeing how 3:9-10 and 12:21, which seem to be expressed in absolute terms, both appear to be contradicted by 13:23. Then again, not all statements in Proverbs are meant in an approving sense: 19:4 and 20:14 present us with sad facts about human behaviour, but are presumably not saying that this is the way people ought to be behave. Other statements in Proverbs, if taken at face value, would lead to behaviour condemned elsewhere in Scripture: we are not to take 18:16 as theological justification for bribery, or 31:6-7 as justification for intoxicating the poor, or 24:17-18 as instructions on how to ensure that God punishes your enemy. These last five passages cannot be taken in an entirely straightforward sense; their intended purpose, rather, is to provoke reflection, which may lead to a changed attitude (e.g., the main purpose of 24:17-18 may be to force us to ask ourselves whether we really want to see our enemies punished).

     In general then, Proverbs is not simply a book of instructions. Proverbs is not given us to stop us having to think about how to behave in certain situations, but to stimulate thought which will lead to deeper understanding and better Christian living. The very wording of 1:7 and 9:10, 'the beginning of knowledge/wisdom', implies that the search for wisdom is an ongoing task. Our starting point in the search for wisdom is (as Proverbs says) a right attitude towards God, one of reverence, commitment and obedience. But how do we progress in our search? The style and contents of Proverbs seem to indicate that we do so, among other things, by being open to experience, by being willing to question received wisdom, and by cultivating intellectual curiosity and mental flexibility. These may not be educational values for which Proverbs is well known, but they are in fact fundamental to the book's teaching approach. As Proverbs 20:12 puts it: 'Ears that hear and eyes that see-the LORD has made them both.' And the implication is: let us use what God has given us, fearing him all the while.

      Chapel speaker for this week (30 Oct) will be Dr Quek Swee Hwa.

1. THANKS EVERYONE! We would like to thank all who participated in the Asia Theological Association accreditation exercise of BGST. The Council members, Faculty, staff, students, and alumni made special efforts to give the Visiting Evaluation Team a 'snapshot' of BGST. The outcome of this will be known in a few weeks' time. Meanwhile we return to our 'routine' with the prayer that God will continue to shower His blessings on BGST.

2. NEW  COURSES. CE 355 (Child Development & Ministry Formation), by Dr Ng Peh Cheng, began on Oct 17 with a full registration. Praise God. NT 312 (Understanding  Galatians), by Dr Oh Boon Leong, will start on Nov 28. It is a 1.5 credit course and will be conducted as four double sessions on four Tuesday evenings. The other dates are: Dec 5, 12, and 19. The course will be conducted at our West Campus, the Clementi Bible Centre, 152 West Coast Road. The new TENT programme will commence with a residential module at the Discipleship Training Centre, 33A Chancery Lane, on Dec 12-14 with a lecture on "The Introduction & Biblical Basis of Tentmaking." Those interested in Private Study may find out from their Faculty Advisors what courses are available in this area.

3. LOOKING AHEAD. Soon we hope to announce the new  courses for the year 2003. (a) Students on study programmes (Dip CS, MCS and M Div) may wish to consult their Faculty Advisors concerning what courses they should take in 2003. It is important to give priority to the required courses. (2) Students registered under  "Special Studies" may not know yet how much time they need to commit to a study programme. BGST's flexibility allows students who are very busy the opportunity to schedule their studies without interrupting their work or family commitments too drastically. Once the 2003 schedule is out students will be able to look ahead and plan their studies for the next year. Pray that God may shower His blessings upon all at BGST as we press on ahead into the new year.

God's Richest Blessings to our Birthday Stars!

Mr Matthias Chin  28/10
Mr Philip Chua Cheng Liat  30/10
Ms Tracy Tang  30/10
Mr Daniel Wong Hing Yuen  31/10
Rev Stephen Khong  31/10
Ms Serene Woon  1/11
Mr Mickey Chiang  3/11
Ms Jessica Koo Li Teng  3/11
Mr Jerry Tan Swee Eng  3/11
Mrs Koh Sin Yow  3/11

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This page is updated on 29 Oct 2002 by Tan Lee Pin
    Oct 2002