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A Childrens Book on Objectivism

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Do you think it would be a good idea to create a book for children teaching them the very basics of Objectivism? I think the earlier a person learns these principles, the better.

My inclination would be no. Very young children don't have the cognitive development or experience required to grasp abstract philosophic principles in a first-handed way. Trying to teach them too early would violate principles of educational hierarchy -- in effect, you'd be teaching them to accept dogma without understanding.

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I remember my grandmother reading me a book that I recently found again and now recognise to be Objectivist-compatible, though not necessarily Objectivist by intention.

It was called The Little Red Hen, and it was a story of a hen who asked the other animals on the farm whether they would take part in various tasks which you later learn (in a turn of events thoroughly surprising to a four year old) were the steps in preparing a cake. When all of the other animals refuse to do the work and later expect to eat the cake, the hen makes a nice little speech about how they are not entitled to the fruits of her labor and proceeds to enjoy the cake alone.

I don't think stories can be written in order to preach Objectivism as such to young children. I agree with the earlier poster who said that would be teaching children to accept dogma rather than come to a rational conclusion of their own. However, I do think that questions fundamental to Objectivism can be posed to children in ways that are still acceptable and fun to them, which can make an impression on how they later look at larger and better defined questions. It's when you intentionally aim something to be over their heads and then tell them what the moral is without allowing them to come to that conclusion rationally that I think you run into trouble.

Edited for clarification.

Edited by Rational Mind
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I also remember The Little Red Hen.

I think childrens' books should convey a positive, perhaps Objectivist, sense of life. That's what stories and novels are supposed to do, anyway, as opposed to teaching specific, rational principles and the conclusion of logical thinking.

Such an influences could, I think, be hugely benefitial to a child.

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My inclination would be no. Very young children don't have the cognitive development or experience required to grasp abstract philosophic principles in a first-handed way.

I'm inclined at first glance to disagree. The very first lessons of metaphysics and epistemology are childishly easy to grasp. It's only after growing up in a culture of unreason that one is confused.

Things like the primacy of existence or A is A could be taught to a child, and quite frankly were, back in the day. Ever see Disney's Donald in Mathmagic land? There's a passage in it that sounds eerily similar to the first chapter of Philosophy: Who Needs It?

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My inclination would be no. Very young children don't have the cognitive development or experience required to grasp abstract philosophic principles in a first-handed way. Trying to teach them too early would violate principles of educational hierarchy -- in effect, you'd be teaching them to accept dogma without understanding.

There are too many children stories teaching children bad value systems right now. We need some that show good. It doesn't need to be OPAR level.

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Even if Wesley was from Massachusetts and not England, your statement wouldn't contradict mine, which I think was your intent.

Nope, no contradiction intended. Just pointing out just how bad it was. They didn't simply use the bible to make their kids hack through, they made a ciriculum to teach them based on the bible.

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Nope, no contradiction intended. Just pointing out just how bad it was. They didn't simply use the bible to make their kids hack through, they made a ciriculum to teach them based on the bible.

Ah, I see what you're saying.

Well, my thoughts are - if somebody can make a curriculum for kids to learn from the Bible, surely somebody can make a curriculum for kids to learn from OPAR! (Now, that doesn't mean it's a good idea.)

Instead of The Little Red Hen, you could have The Little Rational Dagny Taggart, and Peikoff could write and illustrate it himself. :D

Edited by BrassDragon
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There are a number of good books out there that are appropriate for children that also teach them good values and how to think for themselves. An Objectivist-specific book might be better for kids approaching pre-teen age or pre-teens, depending on their level of maturity and reasoning ability.

For my daughters I always liked Dr. Seuss' "Yertle the Turtle," where a turtle on the bottom of a tower of turtles holding up their king gets fed up with shouldering a burden from which he receives no benefit, then walks away and the tower, analogous to tyrannical government, collapses. Yertle wanted to "be free, as all creatures should be."

Another is a Whinnie the Pooh story called "Who needs a king?" I also liked Suess' "The Lorax," though other Objectivists and libertarians I know don't like it because they feel it encourages excessive environmental regulation. I found that it teaches rational conservation of one's resources so that they can continue bearing fruit, rather than using them up to the point that there are no more - be that money that should be invested, trees in an orchard, flowers in a garden, etc.

I bought the book by Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion" on Saturday, and at the bookstore told my 9-year-old daughter to read the book's inside flap after she asked me what it is about. She was able to reason the contradiction in Muslims saying the 9-11 hijackers will go to Heaven, while Christians say they'll go to Hell. I then posed the question of whether God could create a rock that is too heavy for him to lift. She replied with a big "Ohhhh," where the figurative wheels in her brain got spinnng. That was a good indicator to me that she is ready to start pondering some big questions.

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I'm inclined at first glance to disagree. The very first lessons of metaphysics and epistemology are childishly easy to grasp. It's only after growing up in a culture of unreason that one is confused.

Things like the primacy of existence or A is A could be taught to a child, and quite frankly were, back in the day. Ever see Disney's Donald in Mathmagic land? There's a passage in it that sounds eerily similar to the first chapter of Philosophy: Who Needs It?

I think it's important to draw a distinction between stories which illustrate particular concrete values, and stories that preach Objectivist principles as such. Even mentioning metaphysics or epistemology in a book aimed at small children would be a serious mistake.

However (as has been pointed out in the case of The Little Red Hen) it's perfectly OK to have stories that illustrate simple abstract points concretely. I wouldn't consider such a book to be a children's book "on Objectivism", though, which is what the original poster was postulating.

For young children, the essence of metaphysics boils down to illustrating the primacy of existence. Simple stories that show that wishing doesn't make it so, that facts must be acknowledged and worked with to succeed, and so on.

Epistemology boils down to illustrating that just because somebody says something doesn't make it true -- knowledge has to be learned by observing the world.

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My intention was for the childrens book to have illustrated stories or explanations about Objectivist principles. So there would be that in the most basic of way about individualism, objective reality, selfishness, reason, etc. There could be stories with a heroic being(a human preferably) that demonstrates all these characteristics and portrays them in an easily understandable story. There might be a few childrens books that are about these topics already, but its in a bunch of seperate books. A childrens book teaching the Objectivist principles would be very beneficial because all the lessons and principles would be in one book. I think a lot of kids would want to achieve that hero's status and since they have an illustrated picture in their minds now of what a hero is, they can look to him for inspiration and guidance.

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My intention was for the childrens book to have illustrated stories or explanations about Objectivist principles.

Stories that concretely illustrate the benefits of actions that, as adults, we understand to be instances of adhering to Objectivist principles (or the costs of actions that, as adults, we understand to be instances of violating Objectivist principles) are potentially valuable to young children. Explanations of the principles themselves will go way over the heads of young children. Don't explain the principles directly -- draw their attention to the facts from which they will in due time be able to induce the principles.

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Stories that concretely illustrate the benefits of actions that, as adults, we understand to be instances of adhering to Objectivist principles (or the costs of actions that, as adults, we understand to be instances of violating Objectivist principles) are potentially valuable to young children. Explanations of the principles themselves will go way over the heads of young children. Don't explain the principles directly -- draw their attention to the facts from which they will in due time be able to induce the principles.

I think people need to give kids a little more credit. Children are capable of understanding a lot, which is why we worry about what influences them at an early age like tv. I've already had to have the god conversation with my 4 and 6 year old, not really because I initiated it, they did. If they can deal with the concept of god, they can deal with A is A. I for one would love to be able to find children's Objectivist material, it's my influences on them vs the influences of the rest of our culture and I need all the help I can get.

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I think people need to give kids a little more credit. Children are capable of understanding a lot, which is why we worry about what influences them at an early age like tv. I've already had to have the god conversation with my 4 and 6 year old, not really because I initiated it, they did. If they can deal with the concept of god, they can deal with A is A. I for one would love to be able to find children's Objectivist material, it's my influences on them vs the influences of the rest of our culture and I need all the help I can get.

If a series of books were to be put together, than they need to meet a few things (in my humble opinion):

1. be entertaining for the kids(yeah I know DUH!)

2. give the messages in a non preachy way

3. have a guide for the parents

I think 3 would be a big help in how to use the books. When I was a kid, and whether it was in reading class using short stories to learn reading comprehension, or using a bible stories book to be taught religion, there was always questions, usually provided either in the text itself, or in a teacher manual. I wouldn't think that would be too hard to do. But even if the parents didn't want to bother with the guide, the books would still be useful.

I think people stop and say WOAH! No...we cannot shove objectivism down kids throat like this! Well, that isn't the point, now is it? Rand didn't shove it down her audiences throat with her novels. She used her story telling to make her point. That can be done for children as well.

I don't think it is anyone's intention here to get little kids to understand deep philosophical things with kids books. BUT, I don't think it is unreasonable for a good quality series to be put together for children to help parents teach them reason, and many other things that are the basis of Objectivism.

Would I call it an Objectivist Primer for kids? Maybe not, because that may turn some off. And, it isn't a work by Rand, so that sort of takes that whole issue of the table anyway, now doesn't it?

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There's quite a bit of decent stuff of kids to read. (I'm speaking of up to the 8-9 yr age group; I don;t know about later.) Much of what's available is interesting, inspiring, and informative. Much of it also has implicit moral lessons.

The problem, of course, is that these stories reflect prevailing mainstream morality and prevailing mainstream consensus "information". Prevailing morality extols some good things and some bad things. So, the real problem with current stuff is that junk is mixed in every now and then.

From my own son's viewing (8 years old), if I could wave a magic wand and get a single aspect of junk reduced from what he reads and sees, I'd say it would be the environmentalist spin. The "Magic School Bus" series is probably the worst in this regard when an episode goes exploring the outdoors. (Nevertheless -- given the options -- I still recommend it for kids).

The other thing I would like to see in books and movies for his age is more non-fantasy (i.e. human) heroes and more heroism in non-fantasy situations.

Kids books written by an Objectivist would be welcome, as long as they were primarily interesting books and good art rather than morality-plays.

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