March 21, 2017
Associate Professor of Education Stephanie Mackler spoke to a large crowd at the Seattle Crowne Plaza Hotel about what it means to “raise a human” at last week’s annual Philosophy of Education Society Conference. Mackler is concerned that “the explosion of the baby- and child-rearing industry into how-to books, mobile apps, newspaper columns, parent blogs, websites, training coaches, and a seemingly endless supply of gear designed to solve all childcare problems has become so normal it is taken as a given for many parents today.” Mackler challenges this notion of parenting and argues that it dehumanizes both children and adults. Instead, she offers a new, existential theory of parenting. Mackler explains, “Far better than applying any one parenting method or another is developing the ability to recognize, navigate, and perhaps even embrace the disruptions to the world caused by the inherent ‘natality’ in all children—the fact that children, and, indeed all people are capable of acting in surprising ways that no robot or parenting method can anticipate.” Mackler was invited to speak at the conference in recognition of her forthcoming article, “Raising a Human: An Arendtian Inquiry into Child-rearing in a Technological Era.” The research for this article was undertaken during Mackler’s spring 2016 sabbatical and with the support of the weekly Writing Groups sponsored by the Ursinus College Center for Writing and Speaking.