On Wed, 15 May 1996, Bernice Pantell wrote:
> On May 15, henry replied to a comment from Blind Eugenie who hopes....
> "that little candle that keeps fun in [her 7-year old]
> never goes out or gets snuffed out by an education system
> ...Tall order?"
> by saying
> "You bet!"
> My 1st question to either or both of you is: Why? What is wrong with
> outgrowing one's childhood? I have, and I still love life, am excited by
> ideas and people and experiences, have fun, make some contributions here
> and there, and believe in the future.
Two different questions maybe? Eugenie clearly values "the childlike" as
a quality and probably has more specific ideas about what exactly that
means to her. I Thought and think that it is a tall order to keep such a
candle lit or to expect the system not to snuff iot out along the way. I
have my own values along that line (tho to expect them to match up to
Eugenie's would be a bit much) so I respect her interest in what she might
hope to achieve.
You ask "What is wrong with outgrowing one's childhood?"
Not a thing; but I don't think that is what either I or Eugenie
are interested in avoiding for our children. I've complained earlier here
about the enforced childhood, the neotony that I believe our culture has
such a bias for. I've said before that I think the appropriate model for
a child is an adult and not an adolescent superstar (who is usually in
their mid-20's anyway) Outgrowing childhood is what I would hope we all
strive for in ourselves and for the children for whom we have responsibility.
There is a difference for me between living as a child and retaining
childlike qualities. There is much to admire in children not all of it
necessarily confined to childhood I would think. There are many qualities
which our culture, or portions there-of, attributes to adulthood; not all
of which I agree with. In terms of technology I believe our culture
represents, perhaps the epitome of civilization. In terms of social
development, I think quite the opposite. I like what Rousseau "saw"
though not necessarily how he understood or explained it. I'd prefer to
base my model of the "mature adult" on something other than the typical
corporate executive I know.
It is an important but complex issue to discuss.
> I have, and I still love life, am excited by ideas and people and
> experiences, have fun, make some contributions here and there, and
> believe in the future.
Good points all. What it means in terms of outgrowing childhood or
retaining qualities of childhood could be made more clear.
> My 2nd question is: Suppose the 7-year old never went thru an educational
> system. Would the "candle" stay lit in some important way?
I see nothing that would make that necessary. There are other "snuffers"
out there in "the school of hard-knocks."
> Would the child grow to be a particular sort of grownup who would lead
> a life you think would be "better", or would have more value, or more
> fun, or what?
I don't know if this is a belief of Eugenie's or not. It is not one of
mine. School is as good a place to get such stuff knocked out of one as
anywhere else. As I say it appears to be technology where we soar as a
civilized society NOT our in societal or social institutions.
Perhaps schools ought to strive to produce the new generation of Clintons
and Doles, Iacoccas and Gates, Bennetts and Girouxs. Actually, it is
probably a good thing if some have such goals. I hope some educators look
for other possibilities too; people who's kind we've never seen before,
people who's kind has become all too rare.
A "tall order". Maybe there is room too for a certain kind of innocence,
innocence which is not a simple parody of a big-eyed cartoon child;
innocence which is not of necessity Romantic and neither tough nor tender
minded, thinking back on Mr James.
Maybe an innocence for a new era would be an innocence which has "seen too
much" and knows....
gone a little bit poetic...