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Friday, December 18, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Children are not our future

CURMUDGUCATION: Children are not our future
Children are not our future

There are plenty of warm fuzzy teacher sayings that I could well do without, emphasizing as they do that teachers are too noble to ever want to do things like, say, insist on being paid a decent wage or have control over their working conditions. But there's a child-focused saying that I would like to banish to the Island of Misfit Cliches--

Children are our future. Or, sometimes, children are the future.

The first is worse, carrying with it the notion children belong to us--and not just now, but in perpetuity, as if their adult selves will exist only to take care of the rest of us. "Shut up, kid, and get back to work. Grampa is going to need a new pair of shoes!"

But I object to both for other reasons.

I hear in this cliche the echoes of a notion that children are empty vessels just waiting for Wise Adults to fill them up with knowledge and thoughts and values and all the other stuff that makes a person an actual person. Because, yeah, if they're empty vessels, they're not exactly persons, are they.

The modern version of this is to view them as a sort of empty hard drive, just waiting for programming to be added. I think this is part of the reason that the "science of reading" moniker rubs me the wrong way--the implication that one simply plugs or pours in this scientific programmy stuff, and that will result in every single child being filled up with proper reading stuff.

And, of course, if the child is an empty lot, we needn't look inside to see what's already there--we CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Children are not our future