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Kids as Lumps of Dullness

To be a kid today means to grow up in a culture constantly underestimating your creativity, resilience, gumption, and especially: your curiosity.

The hallmark of this era is the assumption that all kids are dullards who would otherwise do and notice NOTHING, if adults weren’t there busily pointing things out every step of the way.

Teach, teach, teach.

Hence the term, “Teachable Moment.” As if kids don’t learn anything unless we are right there, making sure they squeeze every last educational drop from any everyday activity. If a kid falls in the forest, did they really learn anything?

Not if we didn’t ask them to reflect upon the experience, and maybe write a paragraph or two.

So: in my email the other day (I get a lot of strange, desperate, emails from publicists) some educational company sent a list of instructions  on how to get kids interested in the outdoors. Naturally, this requires all sorts of activities that we adults must prepare for them. Example?

How to Make your kid LOOK UP:

Here’s one about HOW TO GET KIDS TO LOOK AT THE CLOUDS. Voila an exact quote, including the grammar mistakes:

“Equipment required: Green space

“Have them lay down with them [sic] and look up at the sky and encourage them to say what they can see “hidden” [in the] clouds, pointing out any shapes and images that their mind may create. Also ask them to mention any changes to the clouds as they move along.

Remember: Kids have zero interests on their own.

I’m trying to put my finger on why this seems so insulting, infantilizing, and — I wish there was a word — inert-ing. As in assuming a child is inert and must be jolted into any kind of action.

“This is a free activity that can be great for harvesting creativity and even developing their story-telling skills. All you need is green space to enjoy this activity.” 

All you REALLY need to enjoy this activity is to hunt down the person who thinks it is MORE fun to look at clouds when an adult is asking you to pay attention and chronicle “any changes to the clouds as they move along.”

Turning childhood into one, long, adult-led educational exercise — that’s what we are expected to do, as parents. Meanwhile, kids are expected not to look at clouds or use their imaginations or, really, do anything on their own volition until we tell them they must. Come on, honey! Look up! It’s time to harvest your creativity!

One Response to Kids as Lumps of Dullness

  1. common sense August 19, 2023 at 2:37 pm #

    Children will up to or down to your expectations. If you expect that they can’t do anything’right’ without an adult, that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you expect that they can, they will. This is about adults not wanting to give up control, more than anything else.