Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wanted: Common Sense

Are we raising children with common sense?

The ability to think for yourself based on what you see going on around you is not as common as its name would suggest. And when it's purposely snuffed out, as adjunct college professor AWR Hawkins suggests in this essay in American Thinker, the result is this:

Our society as a whole seems to have accepted the mental framework which holds as a maxim the idea that we are not allowed to know what we know; rather, we are only allowed to know what we are told. As a result of this, although common, decent, everyday people see their beloved culture eroding and intuitively sense that something is not right, they dare not declare that this downward cultural slide is wrong. Instead, they just keep their mouths shut, without realizing they are keeping their minds shut as well. In the end, others speak for us, and this explains everything from our over-reliance on the judicial system to our dependence upon experts for many everyday decisions.

If Hawkins is on target, then raising kids with common sense is simply a matter of what you don't do: you don't snuff out individual thought, but instead encourage it. You don't insist on going to experts but instead urge your children to educate themselves. And you can't insist that B is true when all the child has to do is open his eyes and look around to see that, in fact, A is the real truth. By doing so, they won't end up like Hawkins' students:

My students, and with few exceptions the students of my colleagues, are the fruits of a garden planted with the intention of producing only identical fruit. As a guarantee to that end, the plants in this garden have been pruned of their trust in innate knowledge, i.e., common sense.

Common sense used to be common. I'm hoping that homeschoolers will help make it the norm again.


Janet said...

Well, I'll try to do MY part in teaching the kidlings common sense.Maybe we should call it "raresense" now.....:-)

Marbel said...

Great post. I am always amazed at the lack of common sense I see. We are trying to instill it in our kids, thus, making them freaks among their "peers." Oh well.

Brumbemom said...

I totally agree. Most of the kids you see now days, seem to be like clones, that do not know how to think for themselves and use their own individual brains. I like the idea of having independent kids that analyze situations and form their own conclusions. It definitely is a rarity.

Rebecca said...

My Dh and I are both very...what's the word...opinionated. I think my mom called it bull-headed when I was little! I've always encouraged my kids to reason and search for answers and not just blindly accept information as truth. That has become a little more, ahem, challenging as the kiddos have grown. Now we have 6 pre-teen/teens -- none of whom will accept anything they're told at face value. OK, that's a universal statement, so it's not true "universally". But it does make for lively dinner conversations!!!

We teach our kids that the only thing which should be accepted as absolute truth is God's word. Everything else should be carefully weighed and measured, and indeed questioned, using God's word as the standard. Again, some days I do question having ever taught the little darlings to speak. Bless their hearts.

One neat thing I've seen though, from my boys especially, is that they don't tend to let their peers "off the hook" very easily. If one of their buddies is acting bone-headed, the boys are pretty likely to say something profound like, "Have you even stopped to consider the consequences of that?" (Which is a phrase we use around here.)

I think we homeschoolers are on the way to impacting the next generation in a positive way. We just need to keep praying for our kids!!!

Renae said...

The ability to think and reason is so important. I was one of those clones, until a pastor started teaching me logic. Simple logic was such a blessing. I only wish I could've learned it before college.

Reminds me of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, "What are they teaching these days?"

Peace to you,
Life Nurturing Education

Barbara Frank said...

Janet, good call.....raresense. I like it!

Marbel, I agree that it does seem to make our kids freaks. OTOH, wanting our kids to turn out like everyone else has not been our goal.

Brumbemom, the clone thing is so noticeable and scary, isn't it?

Rebecca, it sounds like you are raising some really great kids. May God give you the energy to keep up with their verbal abilities....I'm down to two teens at home, but it can still get interesting around here, lol.

Renae, that pastor did a good job :)

Crimson Wife said...

I think a significant factor is the rise of so-called "helicopter" parenting. When kids are overprotected and never allowed to make mistakes, they're going to have a much harder time developing common sense and "street smarts". We learn in a large part through our failures and when parents take those opportunities away from their kids, they end up hurting them in the long run.

Barbara Frank said...

CW, I agree! I've heard that "helicopter parenting" is running rampant at colleges, where Mommy and Daddy run interference for their children when it comes to registering for classes and getting along with roommates. Those things are part of the learning experience, but you won't learn anything if your parents handle them for you.