In the past when we were living on the edge, sabotaging children was the only prudent course of action.
The Haves & the Have Nots
We have been looking at how our educational paradigms are outmoded, and how they are sabotaging our children and keeping them far below their potential. The fact is, education is designed to hamstring our children. People in the past simply could not afford to fully educate children.
We have been covering the groundwork for this discussion over some time. First, consider the earlier topics of compassion as luxury, with two stories out of Persia/Iran of people struggling to survive. There is the story of the Bakhtiari nomads, and the heart-breaking story of the blind boy Mohammed from the film The Color of Paradise. People living on the edge – which describes almost all of humanity until the last few decades – have no excess, they cannot afford anything beyond the absolute basics.
Next we looked at this approach in terms of liberal and conservative considerations, specifically the concepts of being risk-prone and risk-averse, but also risk-tolerant, risk-immune, and finally, risk-obligate. Competition always carries risk; and competitions involving innovation require further, intellectual risk. We should not not overly commit to one political ideology or the other. We should be willing to reconsider the realities, and be ready to change as the situation changes. There may be a middle ground that will address the concerns of both sides, and provide a superior solution. And we need to raise our children, and design our educational paradigms, to stop sabotaging children. We need to re-think our priorities so that future generations will be more flexible in their outlook and more nimble in their responses.
We discussed the odd observation suggested by hypnosis, that we all have vastly more intellectual capacity than we develop. This suggests that we have been sabotaging children by ‘turning off’ their potential.
We touched briefly on my point here, that in the past when we were living on the edge, we had to turn off the functionality of children, in order to survive. Sabotaging children was a survival pressure in the past.
One of the more popular posts here has been a spiritual insight, about finding happiness with less, which was closely allied with another religio-spiritual post about ‘immaterialism‘. Those were written in part as preparation for the present discussion. When you are living on the edge, material things are important, even critical. If a child breaks or loses the father’s only knife, it is not hard to imagine historical circumstances where that might literally spell the difference between life and death for the entire family. So the first time a child touches father’s things, they are punished severely, painfully, and they learn to never do it again.
Sabotaging children was an absolute imperative. There was no alternative, and many lessons were learned in this harsh way.
Living on the Edge
Similarly, when the family is part of a society that is also living on the edge, misbehavior can threaten the whole group. In such a light, we can understand – not approve of course, only understand – where horrible practices such as honor killings might originate.
We can also see how trying new, untested ideas is something that groups living hand-to-mouth should avoid. Simply doing the accepted carries a certain amount of risk, many will fail and die even when they do it the ‘right’ way. So trying something new might imperil everyone.
So we end up intellectually sabotaging children. It was often a choice between holding them back through intellectual abuse, or watching them die.
The problem is, we are still saddled with the mindset and educational paradigms of that earlier world. Only recently have we emerged into modern, incredible luxury. The Kings of France and the Czars of Russia could not have imagined our extravagant lifestyles. Despite their fabulous wealth, those monarchs did not enjoy winter fruits and salads, thermostats, instantaneous world-wide communication, unlimited music or performances or lectures at the touch of a button, miracle drugs, hot and cold running water, rapid local and global transportation, power tools and appliances, and a myriad of others.
Exploration and Waste
That luxury, that excess, expands our possibilities in child-rearing. My children break and lose my things all the time, sometimes valuable things, and I have to constantly remind myself of what is important. Playing with things and breaking them is part of learning and growing. Being supported by parents who encourage exploration and experimentation is fundamental in intellectual development, and in learning to move through life with skill and relaxed confidence.
People talk about ‘spoiling’ children. I think they confuse indifference with indulgence, and forget that ‘spoiling’ means ruining. Yes, 500 years ago the indulged child, the child raised in a manner that we would consider healthy today, might very well have been ‘spoiled’ for living in an impoverished society, one where mistakes and deviation could not be tolerated.
Today we recognize that freedom and mistakes are essential to creativity and innovation. We live in a time where expending excess in learning and growing are not only acceptable, and affordable.
They are absolutely essential.
And so it is time that we stop sabotaging children. We are no longer living on the edge, and we must cast off the old, obsolete educational paradigms, and begin designing our schools in ways that will liberate the full potential of every child.
Broken doll courtesy of Mikael Elmgren on Pixabay.