Are You Sure?

In most educational settings, the "facts" of the world are presented as unconditional truths, when they might better be seen as probability statements that are true in some contexts but not in others.

Children are usually taught "this is a pen," "this is a rose," "this is a car." It is assumed that the pen must be recognized as a pen so that a person can get on with the business of writing. It is also considered useful for the child to form the category "pen."

But consider an alternative: What happens if we instruct the child that "this could be a pen"? This conditional statement, simple as it seems, is a radical departure from telling the child "this is a pen."

What if a number of ordinary household objects were introduced to a child in a conditional way: "This could be a screwdriver, a fork, a sheet, a magnifying glass"? Would that child be more fit for survival on a desert island? Or imagine the impact of a divorce on a child taught initially taught "a family is a mother, a father, and a child" versus "a family could be ...."

Some may argue that to teach children about the world unconditionally is to make them insecure. Will children taught "it depends" grow up to be insecure adults? Or will they be more confident in a world of change than those of us brought up with absolutes?

Even in the most minor and ordinary details of our lives, we are locked in by the unconditional way we learn in childhood. We pick up rules before we have a chance to question them.

[Ellen Langer]
Mindfulness, p.120, 124, 125

Related posts:-
The Value of Uncertainty
Don't commit to it
Look again
Adventure on life
Entertaining Ideas
Mind Your Language