Should all parents learn about Attachment Theory?

This week it was announced in the news that “The Government is to issue £100 vouchers for parenting classes in an attempt to stem the breakdown of family discipline blamed by ministers for last year’s riots” (ITV news online, May 14th 2012).

I often find that students of Psychology are somewhat surprised that some of the content of the module they study on Attachments is not more widely known. It is also worth noting that prospective adoptive parents are specifically taught about attachment theory such as Bowlby’s influential work in the field of early social development prior to a child being placed in their care.

This topical Government announcement has received much criticism; many arguing that parents should not need to be taught to parent, some argue that the parents that most need help won’t attend and others, like myself, see it as a positive move depending on the implementation of the system.

While teaching Attachments as part of the AS course (AQA spec A) it could be worth asking students to consider whether what we know from research in Psychology should feature in the content of parenting classes and, if so, what material they might select as most pertinent and how they might present this to a broad audience. Discussions in the media regarding this provision have also touched upon the idea that perhaps some degree of parenting should be taught in schools. Students could consider whether they think that knowledge of the Psychology behind early social development should feature perhaps as part of the KS4 programme of study.

Designing their session to be included in a parenting class programme or a unit of study for other students could be a useful revision activity giving students opportunity to review and apply their knowledge in a novel way.


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