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Taking Children Seriously

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Taking Children Seriously is a philosophical school that treats children as autonomous moral beings with the same rights as adults. One of the core beliefs of TCS is that children are just as rational as adults, they just know less (hence them making more obvious mistakes and being wrong more often.) As a consequence we should never force children to do anything against their will (this includes things like going to school or brushing their teeth.) Here is the website for more information

http://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/

What are your thoughts on the truth of this theory and its compatibility with Objectivism?

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Sounds a bit like the "unschooling" ideas. From your brief explanation, I would question the part starting with "as a consequence". I don't think it is obvious that the consequence you state follows from the premise. I think some steps in the reasoning are being left out. To illustrate what I mean, consider the parent who says: "I sometimes insist on my child doing something because he does not have enough information to make the right decision".Such a person would be agreeing with your starting premise, yet arriving at a different consequence.

Edited by softwareNerd
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To clarify for this discussion, there is a commonly accepted distinction made between "radical unschooling (RU)" and "unschooling (U/S)". The former is along the lines of total lack of enforcement such as not forcing children to wear mittens in the cold, whereas the latter doesn't involve itself in methods of discipline at all; it's strictly a philosophy of education that is so-titled to distinguish it from other models.

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To clarify for this discussion, there is a commonly accepted distinction made between "radical unschooling (RU)" and "unschooling (U/S)". The former is along the lines of total lack of enforcement such as not forcing children to wear mittens in the cold, whereas the latter doesn't involve itself in methods of discipline at all;...

What is being addressed is the OP's post- in which he stated:

" As a consequence we should never force children to do anything against their will (this includes things like going to school or brushing their teeth."

Additionally on the link that was posted in the OP were several links to pieces about not imposing discipline of any sort on children.

Edited by softwareNerd
Added a missing close-quote tag
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What is being addressed is the OP's post- in which he stated:

" As a consequence we should never force children to do anything against their will (this includes things like going to school or brushing their teeth."

Additionally on the link that was posted in the OP were several links to pieces about not imposing discipline of any sort on children.

I understood this, which is why I addressed definitions that would no doubt come into play, as has already happened. When unschooling without a qualifier is implicated in a rebuttal against the idea of not disciplining one's children, it has to made clear that it is a specific "unschooling" philosophy that fits with the philosophy of the authors of the linked TCS site, and not unschooling in general.

Specifically, proponents of the tenets of "Radical Unschooling" would agree wholeheartedly with TCS's philosophical and methodological tenets (since they are the same); whereas plain old unschoolers are no in any way beholden to such philosophies, and therefore discipline as they please- with or without force and without losing their status as unschoolers. An unschooler who refuses to use force when necessary with a child is a Radical Unschooler, so the unruly children that you mentioned earlier are not so owing to unschooling proper, but to a fringe movement within the 'world' of unschooling (which is also a fringe of homeschooling), but is really a philosophy for parenting/raising children (that I happen to think is nonsense) moreso than an educational model, such as is unschooling.

I have spent a little more than five years in discussion with people across the spectrum regarding this/these topic(s), and while making the distinction I did may not seem relevant to those who are not involved in the current social 'scene' that includes (but is not limited to) RU'ers and U/S'ers, it is relevant to those who are. TCS is part of that 'scene'. Lumping unschoolers in with the fringe radicals paints with too broad a stroke, in my opinion and experience.

I think the topic at hand is to do with the discipline of children within the context of TCS, and not limited to the OP's cursory explanation of it. Surely such a freedom is granted in a discussion forum. I didn't raise the subject of unschooling; it was already brought to the discussion, so I clarified, although perhaps not enough. Hopefully this and the following will suffice.

Unschooling families cannot use their academic educational methodology as an excuse for neglecting the social education of their children thereby resulting in them being poorly behaved, or to exonerate themselves from the sometimes grueling task of guiding their children as necessary. I am an unschooler of sorts, for now, because it works well in our family, and we have small children. Our 'model' will no doubt change as the needs of our family change; I am no activist for unschooling and will/would ditch it the moment it ceases to serve us excellently. I do know that the environment of our homelife is drastically different from what it is in other families, and as a direct result of how we live our life, my children don't run roughshod over other people's comfort and security. I am also unwilling to have lazy, rude, incompetent children, so while what we 'do' is unschooling, what my children learn daily, know concretely, and accomplish, is vast and is not properly represented by a negative term anyway.

While I absolutely agree that children ought to be treated with respect and compassion, and continuously stretched and guided into better use of their faculties, in my opinion, most parents shouldn't unschool in any form; it takes more discipline than most people have. "Taking children seriously" doesn't at all mean to completely forget that they need guidance and sometimes with deliberate, carefully considered (so obviously not violent) and meted out coercion.

I both take my children very seriously and also meet their needs whether or not they agree with how I choose to go about doing so. I don't wait for agreement from my two-year-olds to continue to hold my hand in parking lots; I grab their hands and employ my motherly death-grip until we're safely out of the way of vehicles, even when they obviously resist my forced cooperation. RU, and TCS would have me explaining this situation away until I had their consent because I apparently have all the time in the world to crouch down at eye-level and talk until my voice is raspy or the child concedes. I am happy to talk about it all the way home if necessary, but I won't chatter away in -40 degrees, outside the grocery store, to avoid coercing a small child into doing what is best for him, and that, incidentally, will become clear to him later anyway.

I wouldn't force a child onto a roller-coaster though; coercion for me is a tool I use when it is absolutely necessary and I have made all other reasonable attempts to gain reasonably desired cooperation from my children. With hand holding, it's a kindly expressed, "Hold my hand now, sweetie." If no hand arrives in my opened one, I grip, and that's that. Other issues may/often require more discussion, or I give it because it's good for my children to know the reasons why we do things. My 4, 6 and 7 yr olds negotiate who will get to hold my hand, while the 2 yr old resists, just like the others used to at his age.

I think these complete-non-coercion parenting experiments are a mistake, and rooted in some very fantastical perspectives on human nature. But, if a parent has one particularly mild-mannered child and has an enormous amount of leisure time, then go for it if it seems reasonable to try it out. But for me, who has a lot of things to accomplish every day, including tending several children and who cannot afford the potential negative consequences of such a huge experiment on all 5 of my children, carefully considered, occasional coercion is what I will continue to employ, when necessary.

And even with this coercion, my children are daily striving to increase their awareness and reasoning abilities, and are successful in doing so; my coercion hasn't hindered them as is supposed to be the expected outcome according to philosophies like those of TCS and RU. These philosophies are also often tied in with zero-population-growth advocates, so they presume that I would only really want no more than one child and maybe two at the most anyway, so I should be able to keep up with this. That's not to say that I couldn't claim to follow their tenets even with many children, just that the whole ideology is (usually- depending on who's expressing it) premised on this apparently irrefutable thoery that we shouldn't make any more humans.

I take difference to the implication that to do as I do is to not take my children seriously. Raising them is my greatest pleasure and primary occupation and I don't hold back the absolute best of who I am and what I have to offer in mothering them. So saying, I take both my children and my raising of them utterly seriously.

p.s. SapereAude, I know that you were not addressing my thoughts on the subject, so I did not share them as a contention with your post, but rather to participate in the discussion while also justifying my initial post's presence in this thread. I think that we are in agreement that any parenting philosophy that lends itself to producing unruly, bratty children is ridiculous, and I would do the same as you in keeping those ones out.

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p.s. SapereAude, I know that you were not addressing my thoughts on the subject, so I did not share them as a contention with your post, but rather to participate in the discussion while also justifying my initial post's presence in this thread. I think that we are in agreement that any parenting philosophy that lends itself to producing unruly, bratty children is ridiculous, and I would do the same as you in keeping those ones out.

Not taken as contention at all.

I just posted that response to your question because I was sure if you scrolled down all the way to see the more radical links on that page.

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