PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, June 10, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: How important is childhood?

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: How important is childhood?

Both Sir Ken Robinson and Dr John Medina (Google search names) certainly
agree on one fact, the present education system is failing children and
failing their potential to learn and be creative.

Childhood is so important that religions, ideologies, political parties,
social movements, governments, crack pot groups and ill-informed parents
all want to control the lives and development of children. Over and
above all this, children are also one of the most abused and exploited
group in human society.

And by exploited I don't only mean child labour is sweat shops but also
exposed to lies political lies, ideological indoctrination, and as
consumer fodder to sell them things they don't need for the sake of an
extra Euro's profit. And to cap it all their childhood (our childhood)
is literally spent in a tight regime of institutional indoctrination
with the promise of a career but in reality to create conformists to
prop up the industrial machinery. And when children are not being
directly exploited they are being exploited because their parents are
being exploited.

It is well accepted that the childhood years are the key years in every
human being for character building and development. The emotional and
psychological damage next of kin or society can inflict on children is
boundless when compared with what children can achieve if given the
right support and environment.

A philosophical issue we encounter is the idea of how much should we
control children? Should we basically control every behaviour and every
movement of a child or should we let them lose like a wild stallion in
the meadows? The idea of practically incarcerating children for the sake
of discipline is never morally acceptable. But neither is letting them
free to do what they want. This is not the meaning and understanding of

We also know that as human beings we are hard wired to learn from
example. This ability seems to be hard wired into all mammals. So
teaching by example, especially the example of parents or parent, is a
good start and no doubt if parents were brought up with good examples
around them hopefully they would pass on their talents to their children.

It seems, however, that in the majority of cases parents are at a
disadvantage given that parents usually have to learn on the job.
Parenthood is very much like making a cake; no matter how much we read
about it or read various recipes what matters is what comes out of the
oven. Of course, I haven't been a parent so you might agree that I don't
really know how hard it is to be a parent, but having been a child I now
know it is probably much harder than what is possible to imagine.

The other mistake we make when it comes to children is that language
mistake of categorising things into conceptual categories. There is
nothing wrong with categorising things, however, if we are not careful
we can easily end up in a hall of mirrors unable to distinguish reality
from appearances. For example, when we speak of children we speak of
them as being somehow something different for us. Take these two
sentences: children should be in bed by 9pm. What is said in this
sentence does not apply to us (adults). But this sentence: adults should
not smoke. That is referring to me and applies to me and you.

By virtue of language alone we, adults, categorise children as something
independent from us. And this is more serious than what it seems,
because we have total control of the language unlike children. My bottom
line argument is that by virtue of using the term "children" we are
mentally categorising them first as something not related to us, and
thus easily forget that they are first and foremost human beings like us.

I would therefore argue that some of the weaknesses we inherited in our
language mind set have a direct bearing on how we see and treat
children. Maybe in western culture we are more aware of how we treat
children, and some might even say we now spoil children to the point of
causing them harm for the rest of their lives.

But other cultures still seem to victimise children by treating them as
possessions to be done with as they (adults) please; hence making
children get married at very young age barely past infancy, or basically
sell them to strangers.

One of the functions of moral and ethical philosophy is to distinguish
between inhuman behaviour towards other human beings and what is
acceptable social interaction. What we learn in our childhood we take
with us into adulthood.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: How important is

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