On the education of children


Yours truly approves of the passage below by Arthur Schopenhauer in one of his essays where he writes,among other things, on the education of children. We believe that if this were done, we would not have blockheads ready to strap C4s around their waist blowing up people left right and centre for believing in the wrong god, bigots of the christian variety opposing LGBTs, assisted dying, stem cell research, use of contraceptives and so on that mostly requires one to be religious to find a reason to oppose.

Children should be kept from all kinds of instruction that may make errors possible until their sixteenth year, that is to say, from philosophy, religion and general views of every description; because it is the errors that are acquired in early days that remain as a rule, ineradicable, and because the faculty of judgement is the last to arrive to maturity. They should only be interested in such things that make errors impossible, such as mathematics, in things which are not very dangerous, such as languages, natural science, history and so forth; in general, the branches of knowledge which are to be taken up at any age must be within reach of the intellect at that age and perfectly comprehensible to it. Childhood and youth are the time for collecting data and getting to know specially and thoroughly individual and particular things. On the other hand, all judgement of a general nature must at that time be suspended and final explanations left alone. One should leave the faculty of judgement alone, as it only comes with maturity and experience and also take care that one does not anticipate it by inculcating prejudice, when it will be crippled for ever.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

22 thoughts on “On the education of children

  1. Alice G. says:

    That is really something to think about.

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  2. Reblogged this on John SterVens' Tales and commented:
    10/15/13 re-blog — just for today

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  3. Mordanicus says:

    I fully agree with Schopenhauer on this issue.

    Btw. you might be interested to read my latest post. I am interested what you find of it.

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  4. We all have to support our bloggers-mate (that’s not a word, but it’s to us bloggers)!!

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  5. john zande says:

    16? Not sure about that, but the sentiment is damn fine

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    • makagutu says:

      I think 16 is fine. Imagine telling a 16 year old who has been learning from nature that a god died to save him from sin if he will believe or refer you to a shrink?

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  6. mixedupmeme says:

    In my next life, I am going to raise any children all differently. I am not going to have any!
    I did learn something important in your post. I learned that Mordanicus is still a little school boy. 🙂

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    • makagutu says:

      I agree with your sentiments. There is really no need to populate the world.
      Our friend is in school, that explains why sometimes he does the disappearing acts 🙂

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  7. I agree completely.:)

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  8. Interesting.

    So we are to keep our children in a windowless room with nothing but math and science textbooks? And isn’t history a record of the general views of the world? I would like to see what a completely unbiased history textbook is like.

    What is needed is not less education of what is out there in the world, but more. Mathematics and scientific thinking can only take a person so far. Book smarts are not enough. Education through prohibition of certain subjects is not conducive to producing a well-rounded individual. The growth of judgment begins the moment we experience consciousness. It’s not something that can be merely halted.

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    • makagutu says:

      No, we don’t put them in a cube. No. You and me agree that many times parents do not teach their children about other existing world religions but pass on what was told to them so that for a great majority, to question this beliefs becomes a pain. I think this is what he had in mind.
      On history, I agree with you that history is written by the victors but you can easily change your opinion when you get new evidence. A case in point. In our primary school history lessons, there is a portion that deals with the struggle for independence where they say the first president played a pivotal role which, however, wasn’t the case. Even though at that young age we were made to believe he was important to the struggle, I now know that wasn’t the case and this is not a painful thing to change. Try that with religion!
      He proposes that people should learn from nature/ reality and learn to think for themselves from this young age. Something I agree with.

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      • Ah yes, I agree with the last couple of sentences. Yes, yes we should learn from nature and reality. And yes, religion has been a rather limiting way to teach people about how the world works. The excerpt made it sound like we needed to educate our children in a vacuum of sorts, not even introducing them to the mere concepts of religion, philosophy, and “general views,” much less the specific religions, philosophies, and views. Your point seems contradictory. If we can trust children to discern fact from bias with history, they should be able to discern fact from bias in terms of religion. They should “know better,” as you said for yourself. We cannot help but flavor our lessons to our children with our own biases. We are not machines.

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        • makagutu says:

          If we can trust children to discern fact from bias with history, they should be able to discern fact from bias in terms of religion.

          Whereas I wish this were true, everywhere around me I see people who after being taught there was a god and that this god loved them find it painful to consider that this was a fraud. It is not the same with history. No one I know of tells you believe this or you end up in hell and as such this knowledge can be easily revised. And unfortunately I think most people find thinking painful.

          I agree with you we are not machines and we most likely will flavour our lessons with our biases. But I would hazard a guess that you are going to insist to your child to believe something on your say so especially on something where you are not sure yourself. This, however, can’t be said of our religious upbringing. I don’t remember any time my teachers encouraging doubt in religious matters.

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          • The pain comes not from being taught about religion – it comes from how it is taught. I am not advocating the indoctrination of our children into religion, but they should be educated about it like any other subject matter. Richard Dawkins compares indoctrinating children into religion to child abuse. I don’t think he is entirely inaccurate.

            Children and adults alike should be free to learn about everything they’d like to learn about and not coddled for fear of them going through mental anguish.

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          • makagutu says:

            In that we are in complete agreement. Thanks for your insisghts

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