Last night Kid1 stumbled across an online news story about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the damage done to the environment and wildlife. She was horrified. Her rant to me focussed however on the actions of the people filming the horrors.
“Why aren’t they helping the birds? They just stand there, filming. They should be washing the birds clean.”
And so began a brief discussion on what it would take to save the birds, if at all possible, versus the need to capture on film the consequences of an oil spill. It wasn’t a long discussion, but it did lead in turn to talk of her current homework assignment – an argumentative piece on vivisection. Her study on this controversial topic has created some personal turmoil for her. She understands the scientific and medical value in some cases, but cannot abide the cruelty to animals. While she doesn’t articulate it so clearly, her dilemma is the greyness between right and wrong – there is no correct answer.
In primary school, a child’s view of the world is very black and white. This is an over simplification – however, the early to mid years of primary school focus strongly on children developing a sense of what they should or should not do. The later years of primary school present children with some opportunities to analyse situations and apply their own reasoning. But as a means of encouraging this thinking process, the questions posed are not intricate nor value based. The children are taught the use of de Bono’s ‘six hats’, but it is in unconfrontational contexts. The child is guided to success by determining how the different hats may be used, rather any merit assigned to the different points of view. I have seen many reports on school excursions expressed through the ‘six hats’ – and the child will worry about using the ‘black hat’ when talking about poor camp food, or the stinky pit toilets at CERES, as there is concern in stating any negatives.
With the leap into high school this year, Kid1 is suddenly facing more complex issues, where personal values may be questioned. The vivisection essay has greatly stirred her thought processes. It’s made her question ethics versus medical value, cruelty vs scientific findings. As her mother, it’s fascinating to watch those brain cells start clicking! I can see the mental to and fro ricocheting in her mind – and I’m immensely happy.
She’s comprehending adult concepts, and with them the pain of the ‘grey areas’. While I am sad for the loss of innocence, and the easy answers, I can’t help but feel proud. One sensitive and astute young child is well on her way into the world! Perhaps we got some of that parenting stuff right?