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What are we teaching our children?

They say that children learn from the environments that we create for them. Our societies and environments are in such a mess, so what does that mean what our children will be learning for their future to progress? What can Society and Governments do to change this and to actually give our children a future to attain to?

  • Jan 18 2012: You ask what government can do - yet it's government interference in education that has caused the mess. Prior to the national curriculum, parents could judge a school on it's curriculum and the diversity of learning opportunities. But then the government decided it was best placed to decide what was taught and how it was taught - so in came the national curriculum and OFSTED to ensure bland homogeneity of teaching.

    Leave teaching to teachers, let schools decide what to teach (in conjunction with parents, universities and industry) and the good schools will survive because all the parents will want their kids to go there, and the poor schools will close.
    • Jan 18 2012: Yes well the UK has become known as the "Nanny State" but we the people of UK have allowed them to take on this position. Perhaps this is a reflection on our whole society where we tend to like to have everything done for us. People have forgotten how to think for themselves in the UK.
  • Jan 18 2012: The central theme we're teaching our children (atleast in modern UK society) is that living the life of 'know nothing, be nothing, do nothing, care free, don't worry about tomorrow' is the best way to live, and to be honest, who could be surprised.
    English society has outright demonstrated (mainly though the employment and the welfare system) that such a lifestyle is often superior to those who try, educate themselves and strive for a better way of life.

    -With an economy almost entirely limited to low-standard jobs that specifically target those without skills or ambition (those who wont quickly leave for better things)..
    -A welfare system that, for many, is a vastly better alternative to working from all conceivable angles.
    -A financial system where you can live like a king for a decade, only to lose your worn out possessions, write off almost all of your debt and then rebuild your credit to do it all again..
    -An educational system that forces many students into life-long debt (money well spent when no work that correlates to the qualifications is available and re-read point 1)
    So, whats to teach? We have a society that inherently generates an idiocracy and where the arguments in-favor of being anything else is vastly outweighed.

    For shame, society!, for shame!
    • Jan 18 2012: It is a sorry state of society that our children aspire to that 'know nothing, be nothing, do nothing, care free, don't worry about tomorrow' way of life. Perhaps I am being old fashioned in wanting my child to learn and to enable him to make a better life and go on to do something that could perhaps benefit others. It makes me sad, yet angry to think of the children who are bright but are not given the encouragement by their parents. Yet as you say, the Government does not help by hindering students with life long debt. Society and Governments need to waken up before it is too late to help our children.
    • Jan 20 2012: I was very disturbed reading your entry.....it is the same here in Miami.

      For shame, for shame is right......
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    Jan 24 2012: What we can do is create a nicer environment by holding ourselves accountable for all of our actions as adults. This is not something we can ask 'society and government' to change, because we are the society, and our peers are the government. Encouraging others around you to be friendlier, to listen more carefully to the concerns of children, and to provide creative outlets and learning opportunities for the children in their communities is the way to make a real change.
  • Jan 20 2012: Ellie, don't you think that society and government are not the first line of defense in teaching our children? They are really "our" children, not societies, or the governments, wouldn't you agree?.

    When I was a little girl, my parents would tell me, "respect your teachers, remember they are your second parents". Well guess what? They were. I had wonderful, nurturing, loving teachers. But I went to private Christian schools over 40 years ago. Today, sadly, I cannot tell my children that their teacher is like a second mom......I am aware that teachers, most of them, are overworked and underpaid, and there is poor morale in and around school, this affects their teaching, and their attitudes towards the children.

    Don't you think it as healthy if the parents of today took the time to instill in their children the traits they want to see in the society of the future? And even then don't you feel that we can only control our children to a certain point? They will eventually become their own person right?

    I will echo David's simple answer....we can do nothing...to change society and governments point of view....but, to a certain extent, we CAN do everything in our power to take our responsibility as parents seriously.

    A few weeks back someone asked in the Questions section: "What should I teach my 6 year old?" The TED community gave wonderful responses. I invite you to search out that conversation, it might give you a great starting point Ellie.
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    Jan 19 2012: Well... That's a simple answer... Nothing... We are teaching our children absolutely nothing. First you have to know something, in order to teach it. Do you think the last generation of human beings on this planet actually learned anything?
    • Jan 19 2012: It is said that "we learn from our own mistakes". Do you think that we have done any leaning from our past mistakes - wars, greed, religion, environment etc. Simple answer is 'no'. I really hope that we can teach the next generation not learn from our mistakes, but when you see the challenges that teachers face in teaching these children, with half of them not even interested in what is being taught, you have to be really worried for our future and theirs.
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        Jan 20 2012: Ya, I don't know anymore, I find it difficult to think we've learned anything in the last 3000 years or so. When I was a child, I thought people learned from their mistakes... but, as I've gotten older, it seems like we're going backwards. Torture, holy wars, communism vs capitalism, and the death of the bill of rights all occured relatively recently... Has modern society proven that it's learned a single thing? I don't know anymore.
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    Jan 18 2012: Not enough people care. That’s what really frustrates me. There are small pockets of people (like TEDsters, ecology centers, learning centers, and other proponents of knowledge) who care about the future of our species and planet and make a lot of noise for it. However, for the most part, people go about their daily lives and don’t think about this much. They go to the office, get their coffee, come home, say hi to the kids, watch TV, wash, rinse, and repeat. The children learn from their parents that it’s bad to be too smart because then you’re just weird. And it’s okay to be lazy because we have all of these new-fangled gadgets to do stuff for us. And the people who are unfortunate enough to be too smart will save us from the future anyway, so don’t worry about it.

    I’m glad that idiocy isn’t universal. I’m glad some people think about things. But, when you look at the number of people who strive to be smarter and are happy that they learn new things daily compared to those who are happy in mediocrity, it is not a large ratio.

    The government can’t do anything to help, I think, except shut itself down for a while. But each of us has a responsibility to realize that the world is an exciting and wonderful place and that it is good to want to learn about it.

    How about a second renaissance? One where the major discovery is that it is good for all human beings to learn.
    • Jan 18 2012: I totally agree, not enough people care about learning. Learning is central to our lives, and how we respond to this for ourselves and indeed our children is so important. The UK Government seems determined though to restrict learning for any children who are intelligent enough to progress to university, by increasing the fees to learn. Learning should be encouraged not discouraged.
      I really do hope that one day human beings will wake realise that learning is something that has to be embraced and I just hope that it is not too late.