September 10     

Today's quotation:

As far as the education of children is concerned I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones.  Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but love for one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.

Natalia Ginzburg

Today's Meditation:

Sometimes we just teach kids what our parents taught us, passing down what we were taught as if it were the absolute truth.  But we always have the right to consider closely just what we're teaching our young people, and whether or not what we teach is going to help them to lead happier and healthier lives.  Sometimes we teach our kids to avoid risk because we don't want to deal with watching our kids go through trials, and that's more a selfish motivation than an altruistic one.

Natalia here brings up some very good points, points that may make us uncomfortable if we try to pass them on to our kids.  Not teach thrift, but teach generosity and "an indifference to money"?  That's pretty scary, because we take money very seriously, and our kids ought to do so, too, if they don't want to end up broke and destitute.  But do we want our children to be safe (like us, perhaps), or do we want them to search out the challenges in life that will allow them to sometimes be defeated so that they can learn from both positive things and adversity?  Much of what they learn later in life comes from what we teach them early in life, and the habits they've developed that allow them to embrace life, or cause them to shrink from life in an attempt to be constantly safe.

What will our children-- and the other young people whom we may influence-- end up desiring in life?  If we can be good role models to them, they'll end up desiring the things that will make their lives fulfilling rather than those things that are empty and devoid of meaning.  They'll end up wanting to contribute to the world rather than simply take from it.  They'll end up creating lives of character rather than lives that satisfy other people's ideas of what they should do.

We can help our young people to grow into happy, healthy, whole human beings, people who contribute to the world in positive ways, but we must be willing to teach not just the concepts, but also concrete ways to turn those concepts into reality.  Personally, I'd love to think that I contributed even in the tiniest of ways to another person's future happiness, and it's up to me to find the ways to do so-- for their sakes, not for mine.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of lessons would you like young people in your life to learn?  Are you teaching those lessons through example?

Why do so many of us crave safety over risk-taking?

If everyone plays it safe, how will young people learn about the importance of looking at life in different ways?

For further thought:

The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.  From this almost mystic affirmation there comes what may seem a strange conclusion:  that education must start from birth.

Maria Montessori

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