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Spoon feed the answer now or let her figure it out herself later

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So I was enjoying a collection of funny moments from Prime Minister's Question on Youtube the other day, and my grade-6 kid sister comes in, saw me, and wants me to explain exactly what I was watching.

 

The waterfall of questions eventually narrows down to "What's the point/purpose of government?" and "Why are those people on the two side of the aisle arguing?"

 

To simplify the matter, I just told her that the reason those people on the two side of the aisle are arguing and throwing witty insults at each other is because one side believes that things you made/traded/gifted with are yours to keep, and that the point of a government is there to protect you against people who would steal/destroy your stuffs or hurt your person.

 

She likes this idea.

 

The other side I told her, believes that the purpose of a government is to take stuffs from those who are richer and use them to help those who are poorer. I made sure to tell her that this is not donation; you don't get a choice whether or not you gave away your stuffs.

 

She paused a moment at this last bit, but decided she likes this idea even better.

 

Amused, I further asked her what she thinks of a world where everyone is equal in stuffs. That if someone have more, they would need to share theirs with the rest of the people. She didn't like that idea at all. However, she is okay with, and think others should be too, to have to gave away some of what they have, to help those who are poorer.

 

Now, I am tempted to spoon-feed her the answer I believe in, but I am afraid given her current intellect/knowledge she won't fully grasp the reasons and would just simply believe what I tell her is right because of her faith in me as her cool big brother, and I really don't want that to be her reason.

 

Of course, if anyone here can come up with a brilliant and concise analogy to explain the actual reasons to a kid, I'll entertain bringing up this topic with her again.

Edited by VECT
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You should focus on something more personal than politics, first: reason, individualism and freedom.

The basis for individual rights, including property rights, is rationality and independence (and all the other virtues, but especially these two). Rational, independent adults make their own way in life: they work to achieve their dreams and sustain their own lives. Others, consumed by their whims or altruistic beliefs, remain perpetually helpless children, dependent on their bureaucrat "parents".

Make it personal, rather than this theoretical idea about what some strangers in stupid ties are doing in a fancy, far away palace. Which does she want to be when she grows up: someone who depends on and lives for the common good, or someone who makes her own way in life, and freely chooses her own friends, work, associates, etc.?

It's never too early to instill rationality and the desire for independence in children. If they value that above the altruistic ideals they are being taught in school and popular culture, the desire to keep what they earned, and let others do the same, will come naturally.

Edited by Nicky
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My vote is to let her figure things out on her own. You try to spoon feed her your ideas now, and all you get is a child grown up to mimic your ideas, instead of someone else's. Provide incentive to question things and learn more about them on her own - don't look for ways to teach her your principles. Live a good life and raise her in a healthy environment, and encourage her to explore. Teach by setting a good example, not by spouting principles she'd hardly be able to understand. If you feed her your ideas now, you're just brainwashing her - it may seem preferable for her to implicitly accept your ideas over implicitly accepting someone else's, but having a daughter who thinks for herself and never implicitly accepts any ideas is preferable to either of those things.

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My vote is to let her figure things out on her own. You try to spoon feed her your ideas now, and all you get is a child grown up to mimic your ideas, instead of someone else's. Provide incentive to question things and learn more about them on her own - don't look for ways to teach her your principles. Live a good life and raise her in a healthy environment, and encourage her to explore. Teach by setting a good example, not by spouting principles she'd hardly be able to understand. If you feed her your ideas now, you're just brainwashing her - it may seem preferable for her to implicitly accept your ideas over implicitly accepting someone else's, but having a daughter who thinks for herself and never implicitly accepts any ideas is preferable to either of those things.

That's the most liberal use of the term "brainwashing" I've seen yet. Teaching someone philosophy is brainwashing now?
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That's the most liberal use of the term "brainwashing" I've seen yet. Teaching someone philosophy is brainwashing now?

 

Is it cool with you to teach her philosophy if it's not your philosophy? The guy's been talking about teaching her his ideas of government. Would he be alright with someone else teaching her their ideas of government as if their ideas were the right ones?

 

She's in sixth grade. It would be very easy to convince her of his ideas without her gaining any actual insight. He wouldn't be "teaching" her anything - because she wouldn't be learning, she'd just be implicitly accepting. Which, as I pointed out, is no better than implicitly accepting any other ideas. It would be far better for her to learn to think and question things than to just be taught his ideas of government and what not. 

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Since kids can't really reason that well for themselves yet (underdeveloped logics, not enough knowledge/experience) and lacking confidence, they tend to judge the validity of answers based purely on the perceived authority of the person giving those answers.

 

"X is right"

"Because ___ said so"

 

The "___" starts with parents. After growing up, those that never learned to reason for themselves and outgrown this mode of thinking eventually uses God as the ultimate authority figure to fill in the "___". I think that's probably why religion have held monopoly in the realm of ethics throughout human history.

 

I don't want to be just another name in "___".

 

After much thought, doing nothing seems somewhat irresponsible, too. The best thing I think I can do now is to just ask questions instead of giving any answers. I'll start by asking her "Why should people HAVE to gave away their stuffs to poorer people" and poke holes at whatever answers she gave with further critical questions. If she changes her mind later and prefers Capitalism instead, I will continue do the same ("Why shouldn't people have to gave away their stuffs to help the less fortunate").

 

The authority for any answers to be claimed right is if they can pass through the crucible of fire that is critical reasoning unscathed. I think teaching that lesson is far more important than anything else.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, good on you VECT for making that decision. In my opinion, you're making the right one - the first step to breeding a critical mind is teaching that mind to question. Reasoning is a skill that has to be learned, and it takes a long time and it requires a much more mature brain. But questioning is something even a kid can do, and encouraging her now is the best thing you can do for her. 

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