Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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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!


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