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Little Objectivists: Why do so few Objectivists have children?

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I am relatively new to the site, and have searched through many forums, but I have yet to find one that really answers a curiosity of mine: why do so few objectivists have children?

I am assuming there are all sorts of answers: many objectivists are career-driven, it's hard to find an objectivist partner, you don't want to have kids unless you know you can offer them the best, etc. I really am curious what the reasons are because, in my current career working with young children (and having to deal with many of their non-rational parents...) it seems to me that objectivists would make the BEST parents because our philosophy gives children exactly what they need to succeed as future rational members of society: consistency and education via reality. Objectivists would not confuse their children with mysticism like many parents do, nor would they mix ups the necessary steps of conceptual learning. I dream of having children someday and am baffled that none of the objectivists I know are interested in doing the same, male or female. In fact, I only know one male objectivist who would also like to create little objectivists. Not only do I dream of having children myself, but the thought of establishing a school that would attract a parent community of like-minded people makes me salivate.

I would appreciate insights both from those among you who have decided not pursue parenthood, and from those who have had children (and I know there are some of you out there...) What were your hesitations? How did you overcome them?... etc.

Edited by 4reason
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I am relatively new to the site, and have searched through many forums, but I have yet to find one that really answers a curiosity of mine: why do so few objectivists have children?

How did you come upon this belief? I know lots of Objectivists who have children. I could not even say whether they have more or less than the population generally.

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In fact, I only know one male objectivist who would also like to create little objectivists.

Well, when my ex-wife and I decided to have a child together, I wasn't looking to create a little Objectivist, but rather a baby, that I hope would eventually decide to become an Objectivist herself when older, like her daddy. It's my parenting skills combined with my knowledge among other things that can help to bring that about. Perhaps I'm being a bit nit-picky with the word "create" that you used.

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Well, when my ex-wife and I decided to have a child together, I wasn't looking to create a little Objectivist, but rather a baby, that I hope would eventually decide to become an Objectivist herself when older, like her daddy. It's my parenting skills combined with my knowledge among other things that can help to bring that about. Perhaps I'm being a bit nit-picky with the word "create" that you used.

Perhaps create wasn't the right word. I was trying to be funny by using the phrase "little objectivists" but I realize now that that kind of humor is hard to convey via the written word. I, too, believe in creating a baby, not an "objectivist." As a teacher, I am a full advocate of not forcing my beliefs on any child, and certainly not upon my own if I ever have any. They should have the ir own volition; don't mistake me there. But I do believe in giving a child proper grounds to learn to think for themselves, and one of the best ways to do this is by setting a good example yourself. Objectivists know their values and they pursue them; they strive for happiness and fulfillment and will take all necessary steps to achieve that. Just as you can inspire a child to want to learn to read by letting them see you enjoy reading, I think that by making reason a part of your life, and letting them see the happiness it brings you, that will help inspire them to someday (when conceptually ready) to examine and hopefully exercise it themselves.

I am glad that you understand that it is a combination of parenting skills and knowledge that can help create a rational person. You would not believe how many of the parents I work with are unable to see that. They want me to simply tell their child what to know -- the knowledge they believe they need to succeed-- while I put more emphasis in teaching how to think. That's difficult to explain to someone who simply wants their child to read by age four and cares little for the motivation that should lie behind it. Maybe that's the Montessori part of me talking there, and I realize the age group I work with is not able to think about their education that way yet, but by simply teaching them that they can begin to comprehend the world around them through a process of self-initiated thought I believe I am offering them great wisdom.

I am not certain if Objectivists are any more or less likely than the average person to have children. I again, apologize, if my initial post gave that impression. I cannot speak for the general statistics. All I can say with certainty is that among the objectivists I have met, there are only a token few with children and one other who hopes to have any. I am new to this forum, after all, and I meant for this topic to help me ascertain as to whether the trend I've noticed among the Objectivists I know holds true for other Objectivists out there. Maybe there are a lot of them with children, which would mean my personal sphere of Objectivists is abnormal in this regard compared to the greater Objectivist population. That's what I am trying to find out.

Edited by 4reason
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Not only do I dream of having children myself, but the thought of establishing a school that would attract a parent community of like-minded people makes me salivate.

I'm running short on time tonight, but I noticed on your profile you are Montessori teacher, and going with your above statement: Are you familar with Lisa VanDamme and the school she established in Laguna Hills, CA: VanDammeAcademy ? She has several articles in The Objective Standard but there is a specific one called "The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education" which is so well worth the read, because it describes her way, which takes a different approach than Montessori, and I also think that her way is superior. If you are going to establish a school, I would recommend taking a look at that article and her site. Perhaps your school could reflect the VanDamme Academy way. I could go more into this, and would like too, but I must rest for a double shift at the hospital in the morning.

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I think the concept of trying to raise a child to be rational and objective requires, among many things, a rational environment. The child needs to see, for one thing, that the people around him treat him rationally. When the teacher tells him to share and he complains to you, you have to be rational with him - tell him that he doesn't have to share as a rule, but if he likes one, he shouldn't be too hesitant to share, if he feels that person deserves to be shared with. That's building a great trader principle right there, of course, you'd have to say it in more easily understandable terms.

That, in fact, might be the key itself: turning the sum of everything you know which is good in life, into principles that a child can understand, into lessons he can learn and exercises he can practice. The same way you teach a child anything.

Children are strange beasts though. I was working yesterday, demonstrating the new 'LG Viewty' phones, which are these kind-of iPhone rivals. These two kids came up and... it was weird. Most kids are very shy, very scared of trying things, very frustrated if things don't work. These kids were barely 11, but spoke like adults. I don't mean they swore, I mean they spoke confidently, straightly, asked intelligent questions... come to think of it, they were more on-the-ball than 90% of adults I know!

The thing is, you can tell by their manner and accent, that they're gypsies/travellers/pikies, whatever you want to call them. Kids like that have to learn to be independent, to deal with other people, to grasp many different lessons as they travel. I'd love to know what it is about that lifestyle that produces kids like that. They were the kind of kids I wish to have one day.

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I think the concept of trying to raise a child to be rational and objective requires, among many things, a rational environment.

One such environment in the classroom setting, that is the best to my knowledge, is a Montessori based one, such as that at the VanDamme Academy, but more: it has everything to do with the curriculum: of what, how, when you are taught too (and by whom is teaching it). Oh, I cannot recommend Lisa VanDamme's article enough in this respect. Oh, 4reason, VanDamme also has another site PedigogicallyCorrect.

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Are you familar with Lisa VanDamme and the school she established in Laguna Hills, CA: VanDammeAcademy ? She has several articles in The Objective Standard but there is a specific one called "The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education" which is so well worth the read, because it describes her way, which takes a different approach than Montessori, and I also think that her way is superior.

I am familiar with ther school as well as the article. I am a Montessori teacher, yes, but that does not mean I accept and/or implement the method in its pure form. No Montessori teacher does. We all make our own adjustments, and, yes, our individual values can and do seep into the curriculum in implicit and explicit ways. There are all sorts of Montessori teachers, from what I call "the crunchy granola hippy types" all the way to your hard-core scientists. I lean more toward the latter of these two extremes, though I do like to think my nurturing ways give me a great advantage over someone in the position who is purely interested in the experiment of it all (young children simply are not attracted to teachers who lack a friendly disposition). It is also important to note that I teach at the Primary level, working with three to six year olds in one classroom. It is the age group that possesses the most thoroughly developed curriculum by Maria Montessori, for she did not really start designing education for older and younger children until much later in her life. Her method for those age groups, is, in my opinion, incomplete. She did not have as many years of observation, trial and error with the elementary and high-school age groups as she did with the 3-6 year olds, so there are more kinks in it than I prefer. (How she ended up starting with the 3-6 year olds was really an accident of governmental policy, but I won't go into the history of her method here). From what I have read about VanDamme's school and approach, her method is superior for ages beyond six and seems like something Montessori elementary and upper education could have become had Montessori lived longer to experiment. But I do seem to remember VanDamme advocating the benefits of the PRIMARY level Montessori approach. Am I correct in that recollection?

I have seen some excellent Montessori elementary programs, but to be fair I have also seen some horrible ones as well, both in philosophy and approach. "Montessori," it is important to note, is not trademarked. Maria Montessori chose not to do so because she wanted it to continue to grow and improve, for teaching to continually "follow the child." She felt that if she trademarked it, the mthod would remain frozen as it was. What I think she failed to foresee was the possibility of people abusing their freedom to use the phrase. There are lots of Montessori schools out there which are nothing more than daycare centers. I have seen schools that do not have ONE Montessori work (in fact, they lack individual works altogether) nor do the "teachers" have any training or certification. A good Montessori school does not necessarily have to be accredited (accredidation can be expensive for small schools, which is what most Montessori schools are) but I do think it is important that the teachers are credentialed.

For anyone interested in having children out there (and I now know there are Objectivists out there with this hope as well) I would recommend reading Montessori's writings, though even I will forewarn you she can get a bit spiritual about it at time. What is fascinating, though, is to read about how the pieces of her approach came into being. The children were truly the ones who created the method, for they were the ones who showed her the validity or the error in all of her hypotheses. That's why I admire her as greatly as I do. Like an Objectivist, she understood the role of the senses in education; as a necessary step toward meaningful conceptual thought (and this was truly revolutionary in an age where children were traditionally sat in bolted down desks all day, and dictated to from a lectern or chalkboard). She always based her next step off of her observations of the children, and never relied on what other people told her proper education was supposed to be. She let the children show her what worked and what didn't, not some detached theorist. As a result, her method has the potential to be more effective than the traditional approach, assuming of course, the teacher at the healm is competent enough.

Okay, maybe i went a bit off topic there but I think it was worth noting my feelings about Montessori because it helps explain why I think Objectivists would make such great parents (and great teachers, as well). I am continually frustrated by most parents' inability to see the steps involved in education. Everybody wants results. But Montessori, VanDamme, and probably all Objectivists know better. There is a cause behind every effect, and you have to understand that sequence in order to give a child the greatest chance of discovering the wisdom of reason; the value of understanding reality first, and the benefit of having knowledge not just for knowledge's sake, but to pursue one's own values. This is the key to happiness, and there is nothing that any parent wants more for their child (and I for my students). Maybe I'm just disappointed there aren't more rational parents out there.

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I am relatively new to the site, and have searched through many forums, but I have yet to find one that really answers a curiosity of mine: why do so few objectivists have children?

Hi 4reason, I know several people have challenged your assertion, but I'm going to suggest a different tack. I think the population of Objectivists is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions about trends of influence of the philosophy on subsequent actions. I think a stronger influence then is actually what sort of people are becoming Objectivists rather than does Objectivism influence the decision to have children. That is, its' quite possible that people who are predisposed to have fewer children are drawn to the philosophy.

My particular take at least based upon the Objectivists I've met, is that most Objectivists are well-educated, intellectuals, usually of middle class or higher upbringing. That makes sense to me, and you could probably confirm that more than you could their spawning habits. Just based upon that idea alone I would say there is merit in the idea that this population has fewer children, because this population, in genera has fewer children than the general averages.

My bet, although it's wild speculation is that just that demographic might be able to explain the difference, but of course you'd have to study it.

Edited by KendallJ
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Granting for the sake of argument that Objectivists as a group tend to have less children than the general population (because I honestly don't know if that is true or not), I can offer some speculation as to why this is.

Objectivists should tend to consider the full consequences of their actions more than most people, and also should be more considerate of the gigantic commitment and responsibility that children represent. If they are indeed Objectivists, the idea of just falling backwards into having kids because of carelessness or lack of planning would be totally anathema... which is definitely not the case for a large amount of the population.

The same can be said for most demographics that are wealthy and educated - i.e. that have demonstrated the ability to consider consequences and plan their lives long-range.

If it is true that Objectivists as a group tend to have less children, this is probably a good thing - as it is an indication of the virtues mentioned above - and thus that the children they do have will be brought up properly. One such child is worth 10 irresponsibly-raised ADHD monsters, if not more.

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I think the population of Objectivists is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions about trends of influence of the philosophy on subsequent actions. I think a stronger influence then is actually what sort of people are becoming Objectivists rather than does Objectivism influence the decision to have children. That is, its' quite possible that people who are predisposed to have fewer children are drawn to the philosophy.

Thank you for your clarity on this. I suspected the same myself -- that people who take their decisions seriously are less likely to dive into anything and thus, more likely to be attracted to Objectivism--- and that's really what I was hoping my question would address. I was hoping to hear people explain their own reasons, but I see now that my original post may have made it seem liked I was looking for an explanation of something I was already "convinced" of. The group of Objectivists I have personal interaction with, I realize, is too small to make any grand declarations, just as the total population of Objectivists may be too small as well. I am curious about why people decide to have children among all populations; I was just hoping to hear some reasons from people whose reason I have confidence in.

Objectivists should tend to consider the full consequences of their actions more than most people, and also should be more considerate of the gigantic commitment and responsibility that children represent. If they are indeed Objectivists, the idea of just falling backwards into having kids because of carelessness or lack of planning would be totally anathema... which is definitely not the case for a large amount of the population.

The same can be said for most demographics that are wealthy and educated - i.e. that have demonstrated the ability to consider consequences and plan their lives long-range.

There is nothing wrong with making plans for a decision as profound as having a child; some of my best students have been the product of "older"parents who waited, planned and wanted that child/children very much. They knew the responsibility that would be involved and willingly took it on. This is, I believe,how most Objectivists approach life: seeing that long-range, ultimate goal (whatever it may be), identifying what it needed to get there, and taking those tasks on no matter how daunting. This is definitely a great approach to problem-solving that would help any parent, and it is one I rely on daily as an educator.

Would Objectivists stand a better chance of wisely making all these considerations before hand? I believe so, but, as I can speak for no one but myself and am not attempting to make any assertions, so could a lot of people who are not Objectivists, for whatever reason.

I realize I realize I went off topic a bit in some of my posts in defense of Montessori, and even though I love that topic, it's not what I meant this topic to address. Someday, after I am done working with my recently hired career-consultant and working all the extra hours to pay for his wisdom, I will launch that as a separate topic. Education, is, after all, a great passion of mine.

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I am a Montessori teacher, yes, but that does not mean I accept and/or implement the method in its pure form. No Montessori teacher does. We all make our own adjustments, and, yes, our individual values can and do seep into the curriculum in implicit and explicit ways.[..]

There are all sorts of Montessori teachers, from what I call "the crunchy granola hippy types" all the way to your hard-core scientists. I lean more toward the latter of these two extremes, though I do like to think my nurturing ways give me a great advantage over someone in the position who is purely interested in the experiment of it all (young children simply are not attracted to teachers who lack a friendly disposition).

Well said. I think that you've definately broadened my understanding on the teaching side of Montessori educational theory.

From what I have read about VanDamme's school and approach, her method is superior for ages beyond six and seems like something Montessori elementary and upper education could have become had Montessori lived longer to experiment. But I do seem to remember VanDamme advocating the benefits of the PRIMARY level Montessori approach. Am I correct in that recollection?

Yes, indeed. I brought my TOS Spring 2006 issue with me to work, she says this in the article I had specifically mentioned before on p. 77:

Unfortunately, while the Montessori curriculum is stellar for children ages 3-6, it poses serious problems for older children - problems involving violations of the hierarchy of knowledge."

I have seen some excellent Montessori elementary programs, but to be fair I have also seen some horrible ones as well, both in philosophy and approach.

Yes, definately they are to be judged school by school, teacher by teacher. I already was going to go observe them, and found out information directly over the phone, by talking to a teacher. I was warned all about that in one of the two lectures I bought from the ARIBookstore years ago, "Rational Parenting", and the other "The Principles of Parenting".

A good Montessori school does not necessarily have to be accredited (accredidation can be expensive for small schools, which is what most Montessori schools are) but I do think it is important that the teachers are credentialed.

Yes, that was mentioned as well. I think there was an accrediation that the recommended more than another, can't remember which, AMA and IMA, I think they were called. [edit: AMS, IMAC]

For anyone interested in having children out there (and I now know there are Objectivists out there with this hope as well) I would recommend reading Montessori's writings, though even I will forewarn you she can get a bit spiritual about it at time.

Yes, I remember that when I read a book of hers years ago. Wasn't there some sort of sign that was hung in the schools then, maybe something like to a prayer? (my memory fails me yet again...) She was deeply religious herself, I think I remember reading.

Like an Objectivist, she understood the role of the senses in education; as a necessary step toward meaningful conceptual thought (and this was truly revolutionary in an age where children were traditionally sat in bolted down desks all day, and dictated to from a lectern or chalkboard). She always based her next step off of her observations of the children, and never relied on what other people told her proper education was supposed to be. She let the children show her what worked and what didn't, not some detached theorist. As a result, her method has the potential to be more effective than the traditional approach, assuming of course, the teacher at the healm is competent enough.

I think that Lisa VanDamme's primary theoretical focus is applying Objectivism to education, particularly Objectivist epistemology, specifically Rands hierarchy of knowledge and that to a hierarchy to education. As you've said before, after PRIMARY Montessori, VanDamme is superior. I emphatically agree! Both are revolutionary in their own right, I think.

Edited by intellectualammo
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4reason, I guess one reason you haven't got answers to your original question is that many of the people on the forum aren't even married yet. Of the ones who are married many do have kids. As an unscientific sample, I just looked at the list of 16 people currently logged on to the forum. Of these, I know 6 are married and 5 aren't, and I'm not about the other 5... but, of the 6 married ones, all have kids (that includes me)! So, maybe you'd get more answers if you asked why they have kids rather than why they don't :)

My guess is that the answer to why some Objectivists don't have kids is pretty simple: that, in their opinion, the value to be gained is not worth the values to be given up. To have a child is to bring a huge value into one's life. However, it necessarily means giving up some other values ... because one's life-time is finite. To some people, the trade-off is well worth it; to others not.

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4reason, I guess one reason you haven't got answers to your original question is that many of the people on the forum aren't even married yet. Of the ones who are married many do have kids. As an unscientific sample, I just looked at the list of 16 people currently logged on to the forum. Of these, I know 6 are married and 5 aren't, and I'm not about the other 5... but, of the 6 married ones, all have kids (that includes me)! So, maybe you'd get more answers if you asked why they have kids rather than why they don't :lol:

Yes, thank you! This is useful information to me... I am new to the site and have only thus far made personal acquaintance with three of the members who I did not know before. Knowing the statistics regarding the marital status of members does help, as it certainly affects everyone's opinions and reasons. I am fascinated by Objectivist relationships (social, filial, professional and romantic) and was just trying to get a grasp on a trend I thought I had noticed. Obviously, it was an initial thought and I am pondering it all and how I could have phrased things a little better to get at the information I was hoping for. I think there's something bigger I am trying to get at, and I haven't quite put my finger on it. When I do, I'll probably put up a closely related topic that has a more definite direction from the get-go!

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4reason, Welcome to the forum.

If you want to get a better picture of forum member ages, you can see this poll. About 60% of those who voted were 25 years old or younger.

And, this poll, indicates that while many members are unmarried, those who are married, usually do have kids.

Finally, for a list of various polls, check out this topic.

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