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Suffer The Little Children

... to be little children. Is this our obligation as a society?
I find myself revisiting this internal debate in my mind.
It's a line of reasoning that continues in the wake of my grade-skipping thread.

Orson Scott Card writes in the introduction to the Author's Definitive Edition of Ender's Game:

Children are a perpetual, self-renewing underclass, helpless to escape from
the decisions of adults until they become adults themselves.


Now, to an extent, of course, this is "for their own good", as those of you who are parents will immediately jump up and remind us. OSC goes on to write, however, that in his memory, his mentality never fundamentally changed between childhood and adulthood. Rather, I surmise from his writings on characters such as Ender Wiggin, Bean, and Valentine (from the Ender saga), Nafai, Issib, Elemak, Mebbekew, and their children (from the Homecoming series), and many other of his characters that "get them while they're young" is the order of the day.

But should we?

I think that if one is divinely inspired (or even inspired by a godlike AI) as the character Nafai severally and putatively is in Homecoming, there is no question that one should. For the rest of us mere mortals who are not prophets: while there is something to be said for gathering young, talented, brilliant people to one's banner, one must be very careful where one leads them. Look at Mercedes Lackey's loner heroes: Vanyel Ashkevron, Alberich, and (to a lesser extent) Kethryveris and Tarma shena Tale'sedrin - they were all very careful with the disclaimers. Some, such as Kerowyn, were altogether reluctant to serve as role models of any kind.

If you ask CTYers such as those in cty_therapy, you'll likely get a very different reaction from the more socially conservative who advocate "letting kids be kids". Sometimes means retaining various trappings of childhood for a long, possibly overlong, time.

Then again, childhood - and that includes what innocence we attribute to tender age - has its irreplaceable charm. My Norwegian friend tamf once remarked that in Norway, they believe in "letting kids be kids", and by that she meant that children of less than 7 years are encouraged to play, rather than read and sit indoors from age 3-6 as some of us did. (Well, OK, I put on a cape and attempted to demonstrate my Kryptonian heritage to my preschool classmates, but that's another story.)

What brought this on: Many of my friends and older family members (uncles and aunts, cousins, etc.) have small children. Most have made a point of encouraging hobby interests in topics such as dinosaurs, insects (especially ants and other "nest and swarm" social insects), space travel, energy, etc. I think this is very commendable. In recent years, however, it's become a fad to let children in the 4-6 age range read textbooks on biology, history, etc. that are aimed at middle school, high school, and even university students. I know I've encouraged 9, 10 or 11-year olds to read web sites in

etc. - but I'm not sure it's a good idea to go from let to push. Whatever Uncle Orson might say, you have to consider the possibility that the child is actually humoring you. Or not.



Welcome to 3 new friends who added me in the last week:

25 Feb 2004: haggard37
22 Feb 2004: enochmazdah
21 Feb 2004: mythrocks

Please feel free to reply here and introduce yourselves!

--
Banazîr

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
masteralida
Feb. 27th, 2004 06:58 pm (UTC)
(Well, OK, I put on a cape and attempted to demonstrate my Kryptonian heritage to my preschool classmates, but that's another story.)

Oh, please tell me there are pictures to be had! ;)


but I'm not sure it's a good idea to go from let to push. Whatever Uncle Orson might say, you have to consider the possibility that the child is actually humoring you. Or not.

I think that right there says it all. There's letting a child develop their own interests and then there's forcing something upon them that a) they aren't ready for or b) really could care less about or, even worse, c) could have developed an interest in, but have been turned off from by an adult's insistence on their attention/forced interest.

banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 10:17 pm (UTC)
Forced interest
Well, OK, I put on a cape and attempted to demonstrate my Kryptonian heritage to my preschool classmates, but that's another story.
Oh, please tell me there are pictures to be had! ;)
:g: Weeeeelll, wot's they worth to ya?

J/K... from c. 1977 - one of Eomer's eored who had to stay behind:


I think that right there says it all. There's letting a child develop their own interests and then there's forcing something upon them that a) they aren't ready for or b) really could care less about or, even worse, c) could have developed an interest in, but have been turned off from by an adult's insistence on their attention/forced interest.
I agree. Thanks for your feedback!

--
Banazir
masteralida
Feb. 27th, 2004 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Forced interest
You were adorable!!
banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC)
So wot happened?
You were adorable!!
ty...
Yeah, I was! Wot the trask happened to me?!

--
Banazir
praxes
Feb. 27th, 2004 07:10 pm (UTC)
Let's see: Our 2 year old son just learned the alphabet and to count from 1 to 10. The baby Einstein videos are old hat now. He'd rather play computer games instead. So, it's about time to start him in on a Gray's Anatomy coloring book, a baby baby grand piano (tiny), and the Leap Frog interactive reading series.
Not.
I'm with you: Let, not push.
banazir
Feb. 27th, 2004 07:48 pm (UTC)
Precocity: let, don't push
Let's see: Our 2 year old son just learned the alphabet and to count from 1 to 10. The baby Einstein videos are old hat now. He'd rather play computer games instead.
Neat!
Grats.

So, it's about time to start him in on a Gray's Anatomy coloring book, a baby baby grand piano (tiny), and the Leap Frog interactive reading series.
Not.

Heh.
You jest, but there are those who do that in earnest.

I'm with you: Let, not push.
Just so.
Talking out of the other side of my face, though:
remind me to tell you my chess story some time.

--
Banazir

cenire
Feb. 28th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC)
My parents' main policy was to ban television. They read to us every night, and I think this encouraged us to read a lot -- this week I've been generally reading a book a week, which has been fantastic.

My mom tried to speak in Spanish to my older brother sometimes, but they gave up by the time they got to me! Still, we were in Mexico a lot when I was young, and as a result I'm grateful that I have a decent Spanish accent and can pick up the language relatively quickly.

I'm really glad they didn't make us read textbooks from early on! I wouldn't want to feel jaded about education. Then again, when I was four I was so jealous of my older siblings that I started creating homework for myself, so you never know...

Let kids be kids, but give them the tools to... I don't know... teach themselves? If they so desire? I'm definitely one for advocating reading a LOT. :)
banazir
Feb. 28th, 2004 01:55 pm (UTC)
TV bans
My parents' main policy was to ban television. They read to us every night, and I think this encouraged us to read a lot -- this week I've been generally reading a book a week, which has been fantastic.
I have mixed feelings about bans on television, but I think reading parents are the best. My folks read to me in Chinese and encouraged me to read a lot in English. My prized possession at the age of 7 was a set of World Book encyclopedias. (Isn't it odd that now kids have Encarta and Wikipedia, yet a lot more of them can't be bothered?)

My mom tried to speak in Spanish to my older brother sometimes, but they gave up by the time they got to me! Still, we were in Mexico a lot when I was young, and as a result I'm grateful that I have a decent Spanish accent and can pick up the language relatively quickly.
Good.
We spoke English and Mandarin Chinese at home, so I grew up fluent in both, though I still can't read and write Chinese.

I'm really glad they didn't make us read textbooks from early on! I wouldn't want to feel jaded about education. Then again, when I was four I was so jealous of my older siblings that I started creating homework for myself, so you never know...
How many older sibs do you have?
I don't have any sibs, so my favorite attention-grabbing trick at the age of 5-6 was to lock myself in my room and pretend to be procrastinating with side projects, while I finished the entire week's spelling and math homework in advance. Then I'd come out and shout "ta-da!" with a flourish. About 3 years ago, when I was 26-27, my mom shattered my world by informing me that she knew what I was really up to. ;-)

Let kids be kids, but give them the tools to... I don't know... teach themselves? If they so desire? I'm definitely one for advocating reading a LOT. :)
Very good!
Thanks for your comments.

--
Banazir
cenire
Mar. 8th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC)
Re: TV bans
I was definitely an early Encarta kid, but I used it religiously! I do admit, however, that I never succumbed to dictionary.com (still don't), and am a somewhat rabid collector of dictionaries.

That's wonderful that you became fluent in both languages! I bet if you wanted to learn to read and write Chinese, you'd probably pick it up relatively quickly since you already know how to speak. Then again, I've heard Chinese is much more complicated...

Three older siblings. Alexis is 31 (and not my biological brother; my parents met him when he was six, and we consider him a brother), David is 21.5 (a junior at Bates), and Lauren is 19.5 (a sophomore at Middlebury). I'm smack in the middle.

About 3 years ago, when I was 26-27, my mom shattered my world by informing me that she knew what I was really up to. I hate it when you find out the Truth about things like that! ;)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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