Friday, October 06, 2006

Molding Young Minds

As I mentioned, I was at the World Can't Wait protest yesterday. There were a lot of people there, but it was the young children with their parents that got me thinking.

I had a mixed reaction when I saw a few young children walking around with their parents at the protest. While I thought it was good that these children were being exposed to some positive principles (even the average Bush supporter would agree that war is generally bad and standing up for what you believe is generally good), but then I started thinking about the children that weren't there. Specifically, I thought of the children from the Jesus Camp documentary, and how they were being exposed to (if not indoctrinated with) values opposing those of the protesters. This lead to issues that I had previously pondered of the dynamics and ethics of parents attempting to instill their own values in their children.

I believe that parents' influence on their children is one of the biggest reasons that the evils -- especially flavors of hate like racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia -- in the world are still around today. Not that hate is always inherited, but parents who hate raise their children to hate (some more effectively than others), and children who are not raised to hate at least have a fair chance to grow up not hating. The impractical solution to nepotism that I discussed in a previous entry would seem to solve this, but I think we can all agree that having the government raise children is something that must be avoided, lest we risk ending up with our own version of the Hitler Youth. If we could trust all parents to expose their children to as many different beliefs as possible and raise them to be open-minded and make their own decisions, the issue would be moot, but that requires a level of altruism that is hard to find.

Or is that just me? My parents exposed me to different beliefs and raised me to be open-minded and make my own decisions, so how can I be sure that my belief that children should should be raised that way rather than with rigid religious dogmas is my own decision and not just a product of my own upbringing?

1 comment:

Chad Lupkes said...

I think it's important that parents teach their values to their children, almost regardless of what those values are. It allows the kids to achieve a personal and emotional connection to their parents, which really is necessary for a healthy family environment. I was raised by my Grandparents until I was 13, and they taught me a lot about the values they had that allowed them to survive the 1930's. Community, saving for the future, stand up to tyranny, etc.

What our society needs to teach all of our children in school is the community value of critical thinking. Parents may not be able to teach their kids why they believe what they do, and our schools should provide the resources for the kids to research the background of how their own parents grew up and what may have influenced their thinking. That won't diminish their emotional connection to their family, but will allow them to make individual decisions on what kind of values they want to carry inito their own children's generation. My parents divorced when I was very small, and while I respect my father very much, I don't agree with him on very many things because I learned to explore and explain what made him the person that he is. I don't want the same experiences, and I don't want to follow the same set of values. But I respect where he stands.

Critical Thinking is the most important thing that our schools can teach our children, and it's the primary thing that they are failing to do.