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New Lectures On Early Childhood & Parenting: A...



January 10, 2006
Posted by: New College Admin

The 2006 New College Lectures Series has concluded. This year's events were well attended.

Over 250 people turning up to hear what child health and development expert Professor Kim Oates had to say. The community interest generated by this lecture series was noteworthy. Professor Oates made a significant contribution to the world of ideas and public policy.

N.B. Audio recordings of the lectures are now available in MP3 downloadable form, visit the New College Lectures page»

In this lecture he introduced us to a broad cross section of research on early childhood development. The research makes it clear that rather than being a blank slate at birth babies are the owners of magnificent brains that kick into action from Day 1. Those of us who have spoken to our children and grandchildren in the first minutes of life and have been sure that they were trying to fix their gaze on us and begin relating to us, have had our instincts reinforced by recent research. He also shared research that emphasized how critical it is for children to experience a secure and loving environment, preferably with two involved parents.

In his second lecture The Essentials of Good Parenting and When Parenting Goes Wrong Prof Oates looked specifically at the role that parents play and reminded us that while we will never be perfect parents, we do need to work at being good parents. He gave many practical tips and he talked also about the consequences of a stress filled life in the early years, the relationship between the development of trust in families and later relationships of trust and even faith. Finally, he opened up the topic of abuse.

On the third night Professor Oates looked in detail at sexual abuse – what it is, how to prevent it, how the betrayal of trust can make it hard for children to trust others (even God), the nature of forgiveness, the way institutions have dealt with sexual abuse and finally, how reliable children are as witnesses.

New College Master Professor Trevor Cairney in concluding the series said "Kim, thank you for teaching us, challenging us and offering such sound advice and wisdom. It is obvious to all of us in this room that parents are important to children’s development. You might well argue that a key performance indicator of the worth of a society is the extent to which it values its children and supports families. Governments would do well to take this to heart. Finally, I thank Kim for reminding us of just how important it is the see all children as part of our collective responsibility. This is where governments and government agencies can help, but it also where churches and other agencies come in as well as each of us as individuals."

Professor Cairney finished by sharing a quote from colleague Professor Lilian Katz:

Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people's children.


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