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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Exposing Kids to Differing Viewpoints

The modern world around us is becoming an increasingly interconnected place.  Whether it’s through attempts at supersonic travel, or connecting with foreign colleagues via online virtual meetings, or hearing news reports from far-flung areas which were once inaccessible, our children will likely be exposed to many more divergent cultures and concepts than we ever faced in our developing years.

Which begs the question:  do you actively expose your children to ideas not found in your normal circles or belief systems?

We do.

As homeschoolers, there’s often the accusation that our type of students are insulated and isolated from differing ideas.  In terms of schoolwork, that argument doesn’t hold weight because there are state-mandated subjects that need to be covered.  There is some leeway in how a parent-teacher approaches the material, of course, but beyond that, basics are basics.

Our family enjoys mixing things up.  We’re confident in our own beliefs and perspectives, while possessing the intellectual curiosity to want to see how the other half lives.

Hence, I recently found myself encouraging my husband to take our oldest son to the world premiere screening of “The Bones of Turkana”, a documentary with Sir Richard Leakey, son of well-known anthropologist Louis Leakey of Olduvai Gorge fame.  It was my belief that our burgeoning, next-generation archaeologist might benefit from the evolutionary theories presented in the epic African film, since we were not evolutionists.

As husband and wife, we had our own verbal sparring matches over the advisability of such a move.  Discussions about these issues were de rigeur in a home that valued education and hoped to raise children who would ask questions and investigate for themselves commonly-held assumptions.

“Don’t you think it’s best that Petya hear such presentations in his mid-teens, when he can discuss them with you as his mentor?  If he’s serious about archaeology, he’s going to be exposed to some fringe elements when it comes to anthropology,” I argued.

“Anthropology!” he laughed.  “More like mythology.”

That was fine for him to say, highly-educated, older, sure of himself.  We needed to give our son the benefit of hearing several sides of the same question.  In much the same way, Ben Stein’s documentary of a few years back, “Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed”, chronicled how anyone with excellent research and educational credentials would never succeed in the halls of academia if they held any diverging viewpoints from the normal, lock-step, pro-evolutionary expectations.

At last, Benedetto relented.  The two of them made their way to the premiere, filled with filmmakers, arm-chair archaeologists, and a pretty liberal viewing audience.  Father and son heard those of their ilk referred to as “intellectual pygmies”, while learning that Sir Richard himself held no real educational credentials, in actuality being a high-school dropout.

Details, details.

Instead, they were impressed by his efforts in the area of stopping the widescale slaughter of elephants for the ivory trade.  His anti-poaching conservationist work did not win friends in Kenya, where his private plane was sabotaged, running out of gas mid-air by cut fuel lines, and crashing, causing him to lose both legs in the process.  A man of passion, his foray into making the world a better place through politics, ended.  Though a side issue in the documentary, it was beneficial for our guys to hear of his campaign against corruption  and see this aspect of his character.

Leakey and his daughter returned to paleoanthropology, and the rest is history, as they say.

What about you?  Do you expose your kids to differing viewpoints and perspectives?


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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Winnie says:

    I think we do expose our children to different intellectual viewpoints – our own household does that pretty well to tell the truth. What we do insulate them from are value systems that are very divergent from our own, i.e. husband’s co-worker who has a child with a woman who has never divorced her previous husband and they blow LOADS of money they don’t have.
    I do think as a rule homeschoolers are insulated from cultures, theories, and religions that are not their own. While I totally get homeschooling older adopted children who need the bonding time, the one on one academically, and the lack of peer pressure in order to learn to function post-instution, I feel that in most cases home school isolates kids too much from the real world (though lately real world isolation would be pleasant when dealing with my eldest)
    I think I may have caught some of that documentary somewhere as I remember the story somewhat – did it play on PBS recently?

    • avatar admin says:

      I get what you mean about not exposing them to value systems that would be harmful, etc. That’s important. Don’t want to give any ideas-! 🙂 We have no time to be part of homeschool groups due to our travel, so we may be semi-atypical, but I’ve heard all sorts of stories…. I guess you can be as isolated as you choose. Generally, parents might want their kids involved in sports, religious life, scouts, camps, tutoring, and that could broaden their horizons. The documentary may have been released by now, or in the near future.

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    We always exposed our children to all kinds of beliefs and at the same time taught them our opinions or beliefs. Often, depending on the situation, we carefully explained why we chose to believe one way or another. It can be very interesting (and sometimes challenging) when a child opposes something you believe strongly in or against. We found it best to let it drop if the discussion gets too out of hand as long as it isn’t something dangerous for them. Even more interesting is when they become adults and then see those same things differently than when they were teens how easily they dismiss all of YOUR anxiety over them at that time. LOL

    • avatar admin says:

      Well, that’s encouraging, Sybil! I remember a quote by Judge Judy who served in Family Court for years. She said not to get too worked up about crazy ideas and simply reply, “That’s nice, dear,” particularly if it was meant to push your buttons-!

  3. avatar Sybil says:

    This is off the subject, but I have to tell you about Judge Judy. For some unknown reason, my daughter identified with Judge Judy when she first came home from Russia at age 5 1/2. We would play Judge Judy with her and she would be Judge Judy. She took such delight in acting like Judge Judy with all of the stern remarks and strict decisions. It was so funny to see her hand down the tough sentences…..”You will spend 85 years in prison and you will work hard everyday because you lied!”. Daddy and I would act as the defendants and make up some kind of screwball case and Judge Judy would ask all kinds of questions, some of which weren’t pertinent at all, and we would dissolve in laughter. Thanks for mentioning Judge Judy, she holds a special place in our hearts. If only she knew how much she influenced a newly home little Russian girl !

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s okay, Sybil, we love off the subject topics around here-! 🙂 I think her commonsense, Brooklynese approach to life resonates with many. Your daughter is too cute (and you, too, for playing along with her!). I believe it can be very comforting to kids to see the bad guys get their just desserts.

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