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Reading “The Tipping Point” as a Mother

p40901634Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” is a book I didn’t expect to read from a mother’s point of view. Gladwell discusses the tipping point phenomenon and there are many things and theories salespeople could get and benefit reading his book. I am sure many reviews and critiques had been written about the author and this book. The net is a one-stop shop of information for this. My interest perked up from Chapter 3 where Gladwell discusses the Stickiness Factor. He uses the examples of Sesame Street and Blues Clues. I didn’t expect that a children’s show could have a very extensive and meticulous research. The creators of Sesame Street and Blues Clues went beyond the creative aspect of the shows. The shows aimed to be educational. For the shows to be effective in their goal to educate, the episodes should stick to the children/viewers. Researches were conducted to check whether the show’s episodes get the attention of the target audience (children). Gladwell discusses the amazing efforts done by the people behind the success of these two shows. I can’t even begin to describe how meticulous the efforts were. Anyway, they are best read in Gladwell’s original writing (read the book). After reading through the efforts for these children’s show, I began to read the book as a mother. I was never a proponent of television for toddlers. Not even those Baby Einstein DVDs. Worse, I know of toddlers in the Philippines exposed to telenovelas. I cringe when toddlers dance to “Otso-Otso“, “Papaya“, “Bulaklak“, etc. Ughh! I swear my own baby would not have television as a babysitter. If only for this unhealthy viewing habit, I was very thankful of the independence to be far away from home. Little Dynamo was officially allowed to watch television after he was a year old. Prior to that, I strictly implemented a “No-TV” policy to the silent consternation of my husband who always thinks that television time is the most relaxing time. I think the “policy” did well. Little Dynamo’s love for books has been deeply ingrained before he got interested in watching the TV screen. Before he turned a year old, he started appreciating music by pointing to the CD player when the music stops (turn it on , mommy!) and sway to the rhythm. From the time he was exposed to his first DVD (Sesame Street), watching videos had been good supplemental tools for his development. We bought CDs and DVDs from the Philippines for his viewing pleasure here in Seoul. My reading of the “Tipping Point” made me give a high regard to the creators of these successful children’s show. They were able to come up with shows where children watching from their television sets at home were able to participate because they got really hooked into the shows. I sometimes wonder whether my son does not get bored watching the same shows over and over again. Sometimes, he would ask for the same video for the whole week. I was struck by the explanation given by Daniel Anderson, who worked with Nickelodeon in designing Blue’s Clues:

For younger kids, repetition is really valuable. They demand it. When they see a show over and over again, they not only are understanding it better, which is a form of power, but just by predicting what is going to happen, I think they feel a real sense of affirmation and self-worth.”

While I was reading the part above, I could hear my son shouting his replies to a Dora episode. I am sure almost all Moms know that Dora also has long pauses which encourage the viewers to participate in the unfolding of  the story. I wonder, do the creators of Dora make the same intensive research on their episodes? My son is literally shouting trying to tell the characters what to do or not to do. As for Barney, I love how my son learned to love singing and dancing. To this day, he regale us with his nightly performance:-) “The Tipping Point” has also drawn my attention to the personalities associated with birth order. Briefly, the book discusses “The Nurture Assumption” of Judith Harris. Now, this is one book I would love to read. I had been asking my husband to purchase this for me. I would love to know more about this birth order myth. I am the eldest (I only have one sibing, anyway). My brother is very submissive to me, especially during our younger days. But does that submissiveness extend to other people, outside of the family? Apparently not. He is his own man. He consults me from time to time and remains my younger brother but he is definitely a different man beyond our family. My husband has a strong personality. A leader. Is he the eldest in the family? No. He is the third out of four boys. He is being listened to in his family but I am witness to how he allows his older brothers to be… his older brothers. Briefly discussed in “The Tipping Point, the personality attached to our birth order holds true only around our families. But we commonly refer to one’s birth order to define the personality of a person – the family personality. “The Nurture Assumption” gives light to this myth:

When they are away from their families – in different contexts – older siblings are no more likely to be domineering and younger siblings no more likely to be rebellious than anyone else.

I just need to make sure that when I get hold of this book, I will be ready to absorb ideas different from what I have come to believe.

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3 thoughts on “Reading “The Tipping Point” as a Mother

  1. my brother has 3 daughters, with 3 years gap each… after the first one got tired of her dora, blue’s clues, barney and everything else, the 2nd one was just absorbing them.. and when it was her time to get tired of it, the 3rd one was just also starting witht them… and we aunties and uncles, who baby sit for them, watched the shows over and over for the past 7-8 years… the transition though was really amazing. when they started to watch longer shows, like movies, they really do analyze and ask questions about what they see or hear or feel… and now they demand us to bring them to the movies as often as we could… dana, the youngest, cried in the cinema on her first time, demanding us to take home the big screen with us, hehehe…

  2. I’ve never read this book but have read about it several times. It’s interesting to know all the research that goes into creating children’s programming. It’s comforting anyhow. The repetition factor makes total sense. Now I know why my son can watch the same movie over and over. It’s interesting but the older he gets, the less this happens. I guess they don’t need as much affirmation.

    I too don’t put too much emphasis on birth order myth. By brother and I are the middle children out of 6 kids and although the birth order worked when we were children, the older we get, the more our personalities and leadership takes over.

    Maria@Conversations with Moms´s last blog post..How a 4 month old Grabs Attention

  3. this book tackled social epidemic issues where the author i guess is oftentimes right with few exceptions. Just like any other book, its best to read it with an open mind. Imho, its a nice read.

    re: birth order myth..im also not a fan of this. Its a fact that there are so many factors that shapes the character of a person other than his/her position in the birth order relative to his/her siblings. Its quite unscientific and people who usually believes on this myth or any other myths are more or less the same group of people who are fond of astrology and palm reading.

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