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Offline EV

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Indoctrination and Children
« on: February 23, 2012, 11:52:27 AM »
Every Thursday afternoon, I volunteer in a local primary school and help in the classroom.

This primary school is a C of E school, and is right next to a church.
They recently changed the name of 'assembly' to 'daily worship' and made it compulsory for the children to pray.

For a start, the only primary school nearest to this one is like 4 miles away. This school is a faith school and is the only choice for most of the parents, as this place is a little rural village.

The reason I am posting this thread is because this week, the theme of learning was 'Space'. The children were drawing planets. One of the kids, I shall here refer to as John (half for identity protection and half because I can't remember his actual name) asked me something about when the sun was going to blow up.

Obviously I replied not for billions of years, and he asked why it was going to explode, so I explained it was going to run out of fuel etc... The questions continued, this was one really bright year one child (he was about 6)

Eventually it got onto dinosaurs and why they were wiped out etc, and I accidentally mentioned the word evolution. John of course asked me what that meant, so I tried to explain it simply, whilst attempting to dodge the social minefield of saying that God didn't create the earth, as I didn't know if he was Christian or not.

Well, it transpired that he had been raised by what I assume was an evangelical parent, as he thought that we were created by God, and when I told him about the Big Bang, he was really interested and wanted to know more.

When he asked me 'I thought God created the world in 6 days?' I was like, 'oh shit'... Problem is, I wanted to say no. Every ounce of my views told me to say know, but I had to try and explain that it was just a worldview, and that it may not necessarily be right, because I know how pissed off religious parents get if you try to tell their kids that their brainwashing was a load of bollocks.

The teacher eventually came round and put and end to the discussion by stating that God created everything and not to worry about anything else.

This child was exceptionally bright for a 6 year old, and asked lots of questions about the nature of God and the world, and evolution and things that I wouldn't have thought about asking aged 6, and he actually understood a lot of it as well... But I would be willing to bet money that:

A) when he gets home and tells his mummy about what he learned from that guy in school today, she will dismiss it as utter bollocks.
B) I'm going to get thrown out of the placement by the ultra-evangelical new headmistress because I dared to contradict their brainwashing

and

C) that bright little kid, who was asking all of those intelligent questions, if he was not being indoctrinated into creationism, may become a famous scientist or philosopher, but now who is likely to end up a pastor...

What do you think about the indoctrination of children?
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"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
- Philosopher John Stuart Mill, from a Parliamentary debate (May 31, 1866);

Offline Boots

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 12:50:19 PM »
Interesting topic, and a very sad anecdote.  If indoctrination of children could be stopped, I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that religion would be GREATLY diminished, if not eradiated!

however, this sword cuts both ways.  I profess my belief in no gods to my children, while also telling them that "many other folks do believe in god . . ." and that they should make their own decisions.  However, the simple fact that "daddy says so" is a powerful nudge in the atheist direction--or, I'm certain, whatever direction daddy's beliefs happen to be.

I don't know the answer.  I want to give my kids some "mental tonic" to fortify them against supersition, but I don't want to indoctrinate them (even though I'm right!!  8) ) either.  I find it a very, very fine line to walk and I am certain I fail on the "don't indoctrinate them" end of the spectrum, despite my mostly best efforts.  (Hey, I'm honest enough to admit that part of me really DOES want to indoctrinate them!!)

Children are genetically predisposed toward believing their caretakers, so it's our responsibility to give them accurate information.  There are cases where it's "just do what I say" but I try to make those few and far between.  But how to you combat indoctrination when the "other guy" also believes their responsibility is to give accurate information, and to them it's "world in 7 literal days, evolution is crap, we didn't come from an explosion, if you doubt the Holy Ghost you're going to hell" etc??

I wish I had the answer.
* Religion: institutionalized superstition, period.

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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 12:58:39 PM »
Telling them to provide objective evidence is a good starting point, at least.

Offline Quesi

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 01:09:18 PM »
You know, you made a huge impact on the life of this child today.  It may be a long time before he starts hearing the information that you "almost" presented today, but you planted a seed.  He is at least in school, as opposed to homeschooled, so he does not live in complete isolation.  It sounds like he is not going to stop asking questions, even when shushed by a teacher.  And if he is as bright as you describe, there will be a time in which he finds himself dissatisfied with the answers. 

And for the quieter children in the room, they heard something new too. 

Offline wright

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2012, 01:13:53 PM »
Boots, there certainly is no easy answer. But I would say you're off to a good start, in encouraging your kids to think for themselves.

I have only a passing acquaintance with formal logic (mostly gleaned on this and other forums), but I'll bet there are resources for teaching critical thinking to children. If you haven't already, seek those resources out, give your kids the tools and incentive to evaluate new ideas objectively.

As the internet becomes an ever-increasing source of learning, entertainment and socializing, kids are being exposed to the full spectrum of human activity and knowledge. So the need to sort signal from noise is greater than ever.

EV, tough situation. Hope you don't lose your assistant position, but at least it's not your paying job. I thought the C of E had a mostly "old Earth creationism" view; is this particular church more fundie? Sad about that little boy; he deserves better.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline EV

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 05:13:38 PM »
Telling them to provide objective evidence is a good starting point, at least.

Jaimehlers, he's 6... He still believes in Santa and the tooth fairy :P

That raises another point actually, if society requires you to tell your child that the tooth fairy exists, is that really necessary? I don't know if when I grow up and have kids that I want them to believe in something imaginary... You can take this logic too far, obviously, but the same applies to God.

I know that it is morally abhorrent to force religious views on a child. I know this because you are abusing a position of power. Boots, I think that you are doing the right thing. Children learn about the world through experience, and that is the only thing that really matters in life. If you teach them something that was learned through experiential data, i.e. evolution and the big bang etc; then you are really teaching them the right thing.

It is hard to get the balance right though. My mother made me go to synagogue until after I had done my bar mitzvah, but always said if I wanted to drop religion after that then I was free to. I did in the end, and she has aways been proud of me or making my own worldview, and having the independence to do so. I'm really glad that she made me have an upbringing into a religion, but also let me learn about science, and never told me that any one thing was right. She let me find out for myself.

She sounds like you, and I bet that in a few years time, then your kids will thank you for having the foresight to let them make their own choices.

You know, you made a huge impact on the life of this child today.  It may be a long time before he starts hearing the information that you "almost" presented today, but you planted a seed.  He is at least in school, as opposed to homeschooled, so he does not live in complete isolation.  It sounds like he is not going to stop asking questions, even when shushed by a teacher.  And if he is as bright as you describe, there will be a time in which he finds himself dissatisfied with the answers. 

And for the quieter children in the room, they heard something new too.

Thanks Quesi :) I think they were all listening intently. The teacher did concede that God may have guided evolution though, which was a massively good step in the right direction. I did forget to pt that actually, sorry about that.

Dawkins covers the psychology of the indoctrination of children in the God Delusion, there's quite an interesting bit in there on 'Psychological Priming'.

edit: ran spell check and corrected a load of misspellings
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 05:15:39 PM by ElliotViola »
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"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
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Offline thunderridge

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 07:18:02 PM »
ElliotViola
Quote
she will dismiss it as utter bollocks.


bollocks must mean something like nonsense or bullshit here in the U.S.   I love the British.   

Indoctrination of children is sad.  Of course the xians think we are indoctrinating our kids.  However I gave my kid both sides of the equation.  By both sides I mean no god or xian god, muslim god, hindu gods..............
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 07:22:19 PM by thunderridge »

Offline atheola

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 02:09:35 PM »
But teacher..where is this great mystery man of the sky you speak of? Why did he not pre-program me to have eyes to see 'him' and teacher why are you NOT at home barefoot and pregnant?
BLASPHEMY! SHE'S  A WITCH!

BURN HER!

...it's a mystery my child only the great mysterious man in the sky can know...banish thy thoughts and be an ignorant ass as GAWD commands...
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 02:16:36 PM by atheola »
You better believe it's not butter or you'll burn in hell forever and EVER!
Get on your knees right now and thank GOD for not being real!

Offline Babdah

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2012, 07:44:48 PM »
   
Indoctrination of children is sad.  Of course the xians think we are indoctrinating our kids.  However I gave my kid both sides of the equation.  By both sides I mean no god or xian god, muslim god, hindu gods..............

But if god was real in the first place wouldnt the kids already know, or have they (xians) already came up with an excuse for this.
“We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction

Offline thunderridge

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2012, 08:05:38 PM »
Babdah
Quote
But if god was real in the first place wouldnt the kids already know, or have they (xians) already came up with an excuse for this.


IDK  if they have an excuse.    Anyone?

Offline atheola

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2012, 11:15:13 PM »
Of course god ONLY speaks to the delusional.. :angel:
You better believe it's not butter or you'll burn in hell forever and EVER!
Get on your knees right now and thank GOD for not being real!

Offline joebbowers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2012, 10:25:16 AM »
OP, sounds like you missed an opportunity. Kids are indoctrinated because we let it happen.

Theists are wrong. Their beliefs are harmful, and do not deserve to be treated with respect.

If you asked most insane people if they would like to be cured, they would probably say no. Because they're insane. This is why doctors don't ask.
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Offline G-Roll

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2012, 10:50:23 AM »
Quote
ElliotViola

Jaimehlers, he's 6... He still believes in Santa and the tooth fairy :P

That raises another point actually, if society requires you to tell your child that the tooth fairy exists, is that really necessary? I don't know if when I grow up and have kids that I want them to believe in something imaginary... You can take this logic too far, obviously, but the same applies to God.

If you raise your children and tell them a fairy slips money under their pillow while they sleep and a fat guy in a red suit comes down the chimney and gives you presents once a year, are you not giving that child the tools of critical thinking? this is a temporary thing to believe in. Kids figure out these two entities dont exists all on their own with no help from parents.

As for the OP I think you did the right thing. Its a faith based school and they are not your kids. I think stupid people raise stupid kids, but the child you mentioned sounds like he is gonna be ok.

Offline joebbowers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2012, 11:13:04 AM »
As for the OP I think you did the right thing. Its a faith based school and they are not your kids.

Those kids who grew up and flew planes into the world trade center were not my kids, but I sure wish someone had set them straight when they were young.
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Offline G-Roll

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2012, 11:36:02 AM »
As for the OP I think you did the right thing. Its a faith based school and they are not your kids.

Those kids who grew up and flew planes into the world trade center were not my kids, but I sure wish someone had set them straight when they were young.

I actually agree. I wish someone would have sat down and set all of Saudi Arabia straight.
I support freedom of and from religion. i dont agree with forcing kids into a religion but parents have the right. They also have the right to teach them bat shit crazy ideas. ElliotViola has the right to slap some science on these kids and teach them fact based... well facts. but he didnt and i agree with him. its neither the time or place and not his children to raise.
And yes there are crazy people here in the U.S. (i know the OP is somewhere in the UK) that blow things and people up. but are we really going to compare western society to the Middle East?

Offline EV

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2012, 02:43:47 PM »
As for the OP I think you did the right thing. Its a faith based school and they are not your kids.

Those kids who grew up and flew planes into the world trade center were not my kids, but I sure wish someone had set them straight when they were young.

I actually agree. I wish someone would have sat down and set all of Saudi Arabia straight.
I support freedom of and from religion. i dont agree with forcing kids into a religion but parents have the right. They also have the right to teach them bat shit crazy ideas. ElliotViola has the right to slap some science on these kids and teach them fact based... well facts. but he didnt and i agree with him. its neither the time or place and not his children to raise.
And yes there are crazy people here in the U.S. (i know the OP is somewhere in the UK) that blow things and people up. but are we really going to compare western society to the Middle East?

Yeah, it was one of those moral minefields. I could either tell the kid the truth and been absolutely killed by my school for the complaints I would have had back, or I could do the right thing, which would be to not try and force my views (as right as they clearly are) on the child.

If we force our views onto someone else,  in America it is a violation of the 'Freedom of Speech' clause, and in the UK, it's just not quite cricket. Also it's stooping to the level of Christian indoctrination, and I for one was not going to try and tell this kid that my views were more right than his... That's what we hate the most right? Some self righteous arsehole coming up to you and saying 'God is the only path. You are a bad person because you don't believe in God'...

It's about moderation. The amount of self restraint it took to not punch the teacher... :P
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Offline joebbowers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2012, 06:43:51 AM »
If we force our views onto someone else,  in America it is a violation of the 'Freedom of Speech' clause, and in the UK, it's just not quite cricket.

I'm sorry, but how is answering a child's question akin to ramming your views down someone's throat? You were asked. You didn't show up at his door asking if he's 'heard the good news'.

Also it's stooping to the level of Christian indoctrination
Except that we're teaching truth and they're teaching nonsense, and if we don't speak up, they only learn the nonsense.

...and I for one was not going to try and tell this kid that my views were more right than his...
He had no views. He's 6.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 06:48:49 AM by joebbowers »
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Offline G-Roll

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2012, 10:20:12 AM »
I'm sorry, but how is answering a child's question akin to ramming your views down someone's throat? You were asked. You didn't show up at his door asking if he's 'heard the good news'.

He had no views. He's 6.

so you are 100% for child indoctrination?

Offline EV

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2012, 01:33:05 PM »
Also it's stooping to the level of Christian indoctrination
Except that we're teaching truth and they're teaching nonsense, and if we don't speak up, they only learn the nonsense

Thing is Joe, I can see what you mean. I feel exactly the same.

BUT...

This is EXACTLY what a Christian would say in response to finding out I was teaching their kid there was no God.

If two people with opposite views say the same thing, then something is wrong with the viewpoint.

I wanted to force my views onto the child as I felt it was right, but I didn't, because to do so would be to, as I said, 'stoop to their level.'
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Online One Above All

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2012, 01:47:00 PM »
If two people with opposite views say the same thing, then something is wrong with the viewpoint.

Elliot, I'm going to assume that you've never read other posts by joebbowers. I don't think he would consider the possibility that he might be wrong. Ever.
EDIT: He also believes that "might makes right", and that any societies he deems "unworthy"/"unfit" should be wiped out. That's at least 85% of the world's population, by the way.

Simply put, he appears to be a sociopath/psychopath.[1]
 1. And I dare ANYONE who's read his posts to say otherwise.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 01:51:41 PM by Lucifer »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2012, 03:06:06 PM »
I think the one thing we can't forget is that children have their own minds, their own ability to reason and to think.  Too many adults forget what it feels like to be a child, to have adults, those strange and scary big people, treating them like they're just filler till they grow up and actually "have" a mind.  So they forget that children learn to give adults exactly what those adults expect.  Just like everyone, really.

Offline inveni0

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2012, 08:23:35 PM »
When I first began to depart from theism, I told myself that I would try to introduce my children to both poles of thought...let them make their own decision.  Luckily, I wisened up.  Telling someone that a lie might be true is outright wrong.  And it makes me shiver every time I see a child talk about "god".

Here's a quick example:

My wife's uncle recently passed, and we were at the funeral.  In the back room for family, my nephew was sitting in the corner, hands folder in front of his face, mumbling a prayer.  I wanted to punch him, but my middle son (4) said, "[Johnny], what are you doing?"  [Johnny] said, "I'm praying...it's the most powerful thing you can do."

Mind you, [Johnny] is 12.  I said, "[Johnny], stop it.  Don't tell him that."

It made me soooooo angry.  And it doesn't help when my kids' grandparents try to sneak christian children's books and videos into their Christmas stockings.  I want to say, "How would you have felt if someone tried to teach me witchcraft when I was little?"

I'm tired of tip toeing around this crap.  Now, I just speak my mind.  I shouldn't be afraid of offending the insane.  They should be afraid of offending me.
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Offline inveni0

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2012, 08:25:39 PM »
I think the one thing we can't forget is that children have their own minds, their own ability to reason and to think.  Too many adults forget what it feels like to be a child, to have adults, those strange and scary big people, treating them like they're just filler till they grow up and actually "have" a mind.  So they forget that children learn to give adults exactly what those adults expect.  Just like everyone, really.

Children don't have the ability to reason.  That's why religion persists.  The logical part of our brains doesn't fully develop until between 21 and 25 years of age.  By then, it's too late.  Those people have already "dedicated" themselves to the wishes of their imaginary friend.
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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2012, 08:28:14 PM »
Children don't have the ability to reason.

Speak for yourself. Children are easily influenced by their parents. This is what gives the illusion that they're idiots. They'll believe what their parents tell them because they can't process the fact that their parents most likely have and will lie to them, intentionally or unintentionally.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 09:36:00 PM by Lucifer »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2012, 09:34:13 PM »
Children don't have the ability to reason.  That's why religion persists.  The logical part of our brains doesn't fully develop until between 21 and 25 years of age.  By then, it's too late.  Those people have already "dedicated" themselves to the wishes of their imaginary friend.
Oh, I guess I was wrong.  Children clearly have no capacity whatsoever of being able to reason and think rationally until they're fully grown adults, just because the logical part of their brains hasn't finished developing until then.[/sarcasm]

Seriously, do you realize how you sound when you say things like that?  The fact that children aren't fully mature and aren't as good at reasoning as an adult is does not mean that they lack the ability to reason.  What children lack is rational forethought, which is not the same as the ability to reason.  Rational forethought is essentially considering consequences in advance (an interrupt that helps to restrict impulsiveness).  But children are quite capable of reason in its own right.

Offline inveni0

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #25 on: February 29, 2012, 12:19:23 AM »
Children don't have the ability to reason.  That's why religion persists.  The logical part of our brains doesn't fully develop until between 21 and 25 years of age.  By then, it's too late.  Those people have already "dedicated" themselves to the wishes of their imaginary friend.
Oh, I guess I was wrong.  Children clearly have no capacity whatsoever of being able to reason and think rationally until they're fully grown adults, just because the logical part of their brains hasn't finished developing until then.[/sarcasm]

Seriously, do you realize how you sound when you say things like that?  The fact that children aren't fully mature and aren't as good at reasoning as an adult is does not mean that they lack the ability to reason.  What children lack is rational forethought, which is not the same as the ability to reason.  Rational forethought is essentially considering consequences in advance (an interrupt that helps to restrict impulsiveness).  But children are quite capable of reason in its own right.

My goodness...I forget how important semantics are in this place.  I'll be more precise in the future.

What do you think is most likely of a child age 2-12: to develop their own conclusion about the existence of an omnipotent deity or to take what their parents and Sunday school teachers say as truth?  As the brain begins to develop "rational forethought" (age 13-25), you'll find that the child begins to go AGAINST the parent more often than not.  This is a child learning how to make their own decisions.

My argument with saying "children are rational" is that they overwhelmingly will not choose to be rational (or reasonable) in the face of scrutiny.  Decisions are most likely made with the influence of peer pressure, and the child chooses to side with those peers who seems to most satisfy the current needs of the child as imagined by that child.

Are there exceptions?  Most definitely.  But I'm not about to assume that my children are the exception.  I'll not have them poisoned with lies under the assumption that they'll make a reasonable decision.  Will I try to prepare them to make reasonable decisions?  I do so every day.  (My son went from being the most troublesome child in his class during the first quarter to winning the school-wide (grades K-4) award for honesty this quarter.)  But these minds are shapeable...they must be molded with great care.  It's in their evolutionary code to be impressionable...I have to remember that as I raise them.
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Offline sun_king

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #26 on: February 29, 2012, 01:45:50 AM »
Conversation I had with my nine year old daughter this Monday. (We are Indians, in case the deity mentioned leads to some confusion)

"Dad, does drawing the picture of a god in the answer sheet help when we have exams?"
"Why do you ask?"
"<name> drew a picture of lord ganesha, she said it will help her in the exams"
"What do you think?"
"I think not, I got full marks, <name> got only <less>"
"There you go"
"I knew that, just to be sure"

I will go with the belief that children have the same logical capabilities as adults. It is just that the data (information, awareness) they have to process is less and so they tend to make the wrong conclusions. It will depend on how the parents train the child to use that faculty. For me, this involves a considerable amount of time to explain to her using words she would understand, why things are the way they are.

Tinkerbell is her favorite, she loves the movies, her laptop is Tinkerbell themed, she can draw Tinkerbell from any angle without any reference images. And yet she knows fairies are imaginary, she adore them for their cuteness. She knows we need a fair amount of thrust to make something fly and not pixie dust. I feel that she is logical enough to stop at adoring something, not taking the next step which can be worshipping.

@inveni0, children will choose to be whatever they are not afraid of. Remove the fear and be amazed by what they can do.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #27 on: February 29, 2012, 09:52:44 AM »
Here's the thing.  Children do not have the experience that adults do.  But that in no way means that children are less able to reason or be logical than adults are, except insofar as the lack of experience affects things.  Take two adults, one of whom has lived in his hometown all his life, and the other who's traveled around the country and experienced lots of things, and you'll end up with the same situation.  The only difference is that a child is more able to correct that lack of experience than an adult is.

Children as not as much more impressionable than adults as most people think; or rather, adults are much more impressionable than most people assume.  Even with fully-developed brains, it's still easy to pressure an adult who should know better into behavior which is potentially detrimental, or for them to rationalize themselves into it.  And a child can much more easily learn to ask advice before they jump into a course of action than an adult can - in fact, they already do to a degree.

Offline inveni0

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Re: Indoctrination and Children
« Reply #28 on: February 29, 2012, 12:04:39 PM »
Here's the thing.  Children do not have the experience that adults do.  But that in no way means that children are less able to reason or be logical than adults are, except insofar as the lack of experience affects things.  Take two adults, one of whom has lived in his hometown all his life, and the other who's traveled around the country and experienced lots of things, and you'll end up with the same situation.  The only difference is that a child is more able to correct that lack of experience than an adult is.

Children as not as much more impressionable than adults as most people think; or rather, adults are much more impressionable than most people assume.  Even with fully-developed brains, it's still easy to pressure an adult who should know better into behavior which is potentially detrimental, or for them to rationalize themselves into it.  And a child can much more easily learn to ask advice before they jump into a course of action than an adult can - in fact, they already do to a degree.

I disagree.  An adult's predisposition for conceding to peer pressure is most likely an attribute they picked up through their psychological development.  So, while an adult may be likely to go along with something stupid, they must have an initial way to rationalize that behavior, whether they use religion or selfishness doesn't matter.

That being said, while I believe that children are impressionable, I DON'T believe that they are, in all instances, puppets.  For instance, I don't believe that video games make kids violent.  I don't believe that having alcoholic parents makes children alcoholics.  The impressions of these environments might be able to push a child onto one side of the fence, but that's assuming that the child is already ON the fence.

I compare teaching children about god to teaching them about Santa.  The danger, however, is that faith in Santa is easier to rationalize away.  For instance, my son asked me about something one day, and I told him that sometimes people invent explanations for strange events instead of trying to find the truth.  I said, "Imagine if you opened the front door and saw a bag of candy on the stoop.  Where did it come from?"  He answered, "Someone might have dropped it or left it there."  I said, "Right.  You wouldn't say, 'Oh, a magical candy troll has given me candy!'"  He answered, "Oh...like the tooth fairy?"  And he immediately dispelled belief in the tooth fairy.

I made the mistake, however, of telling him that kids who don't believe in the tooth fairy don't get money under their pillow.  And now his faith in Santa and Mrs. T is restored.
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