10 thoughts on “Aldous Huxley, on What We Fail to Teach Our Children, and Why

    • Are children systematically taught the importance of questioning authority, and relying on evidence to distinguish good ideas from bad ones?

      I submit that, if they were, teachers wouldn’t hear nonsense of the “x is true because the textbook says so” variety, or similar fallacies, from students, nearly as often as we do . . . and then later, as adults, those same students would not be nearly as likely to fall for demagoguery from corrupt politicians.

      There are, of course, many teachers who work hard to correct this problem, and sometimes, one student at a time, we succeed. However, this always-uphill battle is not one we can honestly claim we are, as a society, even close to winning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’d have to sit at the dinner table of our home every evening to hear the ideas and questioning that goes on at our place. I can’t speak for others but my children were always independant thinkers.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. For questioning to be acceptable, you have to be able to trust the kids to trust you.
    The facts are that some of the time the answers will not be significantly appreciated by the kid and a variation of “Because I said so,” will have to do. You can give kids an answer, but the kids have to be willing to accept that that they will not agree with every choice nor find every answer compelling. The kids have to be willing to trust the parent’s judgment even when (or especially when) the child disagrees with the parent’s judgment. When a parent can trust a kid to trust the parent’s judgment, all sorts of discussions are safe. If your kids can trust you to exercise your good judgment in your oversight of their affairs, then you are able to trust them to question your judgments.


    • There are big problems with that line of reasoning, and they are called abusive parents. They are all too real, and can trick children into trusting them (for a time). I learned this the hard way, for I had one such parent, but he is no longer among the living.

      Also, my scientific mindset does not acknowledge “arguments from authority” as logically legitimate. The only arguments which make sense, to me, are those which use the methods of mathematical proof, or the scientific method. Since I grew up in science laboratories (literally), I learned this principle when I was a very young child, through constant exposure to those working in the fields of chemistry and physics. As an adult, reading the works of Richard Feynman has “cemented” this attitude. For an example, please have a look at this great Feynman quote: https://robertlovespi.net/2013/04/10/richard-feynman-on-respect-and-authority-2/

      Even as a child, as far back as I can remember, I was unable to recognize “because I said so” as anything other than an absurd statement.

      It is unusual for those who leave comments on my blog to do so anonymously, by the way. All comments must be approved by me before they can appear on my blog. I let your anonymous comment through for exactly one reason: I wished to respond to it. In the future, however, I request that comments not be left anonymously, or I am not likely to let them appear.


  2. Gee thanks. Now, my desire to be polite is in conflict with my desire to be contrary. The two will have to reach some sort of a compromise.

    I stand by my assertion that the their should be trust between parents and children.
    I noted,”If your kids can trust you to exercise your good judgment in your oversight of their affairs, then you are able to trust them to question your judgments.”
    “If your kids can trust you, then you are able to trust them.”

    As such I don’t find your anecdote about someone’s kid, you, who could not trust the good judgment of the parent to actually be contrary to my assertion. It seems that your experience highlights the implication that trust between parent an child is the more ideal situation. [Sorry for your experience. It was not your fault that your grown up was not worthy of your trust.]

    Consider what advice you would give to a 6 year old who does not find her parent’s explanation of germ theory compelling. Should that child allow herself to be hurt by having her parent clean the dirt and gravel from her skinned knee even though the child has yet to personally replicate and confirm the experiments of Semmelweiss, Pastuer, et al herself?
    Is it better that the parent exercises good judgment in the oversight of the child’s affairs and the child trusts the parent?
    Or is it preferable that the 6 year old conduct her own research and experiments before allowing the wound to be cleaned?

    No more anonymous participation in your blog from me. Sorry for the faux pas. Sorry for the offense. None was intended.


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