April 5th, 2010

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Choosing Stupid

None of us are born knowing how to make good choices.   We don't get to choose our parents, to start with, and so as babies we come into the world already subject to someone else's choices (good or bad); for years after that, we are legally constrained by the choices others make for us.   Those choices open to us (if we have parents who allow children any choice--some don't)  are, for a considerable time, trivial.   They do give us a chance to experience ambivalence or express preference ("Do you want to wear the green or the yellow?") but when either T-shirt is acceptable, the choice has no consequences attached (except on St. Patrick's Day, of course.)   Parents who want their children to be able, as adults, to discern good choices from bad have to let their kids make choices that have consequences attached, and then explain how the choice and the consequence were connected, and how to predict the consequences of choices, and then what to do when you've made a bad choice and the consequence bites.   Just punishing a bad choice doesn't cut it...what's needed is education.

Punishment is easier for parents and those in authority than real education, and seems initially less risky as well, because education (real education) leads to the educated individual who can actually think and learn on his/her own.   And who may choose the new smart choice over the traditional (now shown to be stupid) choice. 

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