We can treat Arlo like a child or we can take him seriously. The difference is important.
Taking Arlo seriously rests on 3 beliefs:
- Kids are creative
- We’re fallible
- We learn through trial & error
These 3 beliefs are what Taking Children Seriously (TCS) is about, a philosophy created by Sarah Fitz-Claridge and David Deutsch in the ’90s.
The main idea is that it’s entirely possible to raise children without forcing them to do anything. So, as parents, we don’t have to force them to do things like brushing their teeth, eating or sleeping.
Parents are well-intentioned. We care for our children and often have a good reason for coercion: “You will get cavities, be hungry or wake up tired for school tomorrow.”
We do what we believe is best for them.
However, every time we coerce them into something, we teach them 3 things:
- There’s only 1 solution to the problem at hand. Ours.
- They can’t solve the problem themselves
- It’s okay to use power over someone to violate their consent and autonomy
When we force children, we’re treating their brains as buckets, pouring info as if the mind passively learns.
But that’s not how humans learn. We learn through conjectures and refutation:
- We encounter a problem,
- We make guesses as to what the cause might be,
- We put our theories to the test,
- And, based on the outcome, we create new knowledge
If we force our children, they can’t really engage with the problem at hand, and, therefore, can’t learn or create new knowledge. We’re treating their brains as buckets.
Instead, if we want them to learn, we need to let go of our paternalistic view of children and the fact that we are right. We might be wrong. Even about the cavities.
“But this is a recipe for rebellion. If I give in, the kids win.” Only if it’s a zero-sum game. But it’s not. The alternative is to genuinely solve the problem together.
That’s what this blog is about. It’s about how Arlo, my wife and I solve problems together in pursuit of learning and building new knowledge to make progress.