A couple of weeks ago, a young relative was shaking out her fledgling debating feathers. Like most early teens, her worldview is starkly painted in black and white, anchored by a belief that all ‘bad’ views can be counteracted and corrected by exposure to ‘good’ views based on ‘proof’.
I came across this excerpt from an article in The Daily Caller on Twitter yesterday (h/t @robrousseau). It reminded me of that discussion with my young relative. At the time, I thought she did a great job holding her ground, and that given time, her black-and-white worldview would blossom into riotous colour. Which is the way I think it should be.
But this article made me wonder: what if I am as stuck within my own worldview as the author of this piece?
And then I thought: well, what if I am? I don’t want to live in this woman’s world. I want a different world: one in which all people have a right to health, education and the means to feed and shelter themselves. This doesn’t make the author’s view invalid. I just disagree with it. Strongly. But she’s an adult, so I’m unlikely to change her view. I have to co-exist with it.
Children, on the other hand, are different. Their views are not fully formed. It’s important that we teach them, not to follow our own ideologies blindly, but to think independently and critically about the world. They are the drivers of change. The world is rapidly transforming, and we need our children equipped to deal with that, and to think in new ways that we struggle with, because our neural networks are well-established and new pathways are harder to construct.
Teaching our children to think critically may have unexpected consequences, like – oh heresy! – I might turn out to be wrong. But I still think we should be encouraging our young thinkers to progress from monotone to full-colour world building. Otherwise, we go nowhere.