Why Kids are Rarely Skeptics

There are a lot of skeptics out there. They are hard to ignore and most of the time, they are impossible to escape. Maybe you are a skeptic. Society likes to train skeptics. The Enlightenment and the scientific revolution and all that jazz have proven skeptics useful, I guess. Universities spit out skeptics like it’s nobody’s business. I don’t know anyone who has recently been through four years of college who didn’t take at least once course that was greatly influenced by postmodernism.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of postmodernism. Heck, I’m an English major with an interest in communications and psychology. It would be almost impossible for me not to enjoy postmodernism. But there’s one realm of education postmodernism has not yet infiltrated – primary schools (preschools, kindergartens, grade schools, and to a great extent, middle schools).

In those grades, children are still taught short, optimistic slogans like “Hard work always pays off” or “Be an individual” or “Good things happen to good people” or something of this nature. I think, in most cases, if any student were to utter these words in a college course, there would be argumentation. And for good reason: they aren’t always true. We can all think of instances when bad things happen to good people, for instance.

But the thing we easily forget is that the reason these slogans exist is not because of some government conspiracy to keep citizens complacent (in most cases). They exist because they are simplifications of very complex truths that are beneficial for us. “Good things happen to good people” is not true, but something like “You have no control over the exterior things that happen to you, but if you act in a noble and optimistic way in the things you can control, chances are you will live a much happier and fuller life” is true.

So next time you walk through an elementary school, instead of scoffing at all of the seemingly overly-optimistic saying on posters and motivational pictures, be a little more forgiving.

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