Why Teach Personhood
By Mr. Andrews
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INTRODUCTION

 The main goal of education should be to raise our children to be very high quality people and who have developed their knowledge and skills, to become the BEST person that they can be.

 

Your personhood is who you are.
 

It is the sums total of your goals, your values, the rules you live by, your personality, your character, your knowledge, and your skills. When we see a person who has done well in developing his personhood, we are justified in saying 'He (or she) is a high quality person!" We could also say, "She (or he) is a classy person!"

 
Notice that I wrote "... a person who has done well in developing his personhood..." implies that a person develops his own personhood. To a considerable extent this is true. If that idea kind of sticks in your throat, then you should read The Self-Made Person. Also read Choices.
 
As teachers, we can only act as a guide and a resource. We hope to continually bend the "twig" so that it will grow in good ways. The teaching materials on this web site were designed to impart understanding, intrinsic motivation, skills, and wisdom to children. These will help them make good decisions while they are creating themselves. It all builds personhood.
 
Why should we consider teaching personhood now, when it wasn't taught before?
Because our society has changed!
Read on...
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A Note to Students

Reading the following material, you may think, "But Mr. Andrews, times have changed since you were in school."

Yes. True. That is part of my point. I am glad you see it.

The other part of my point is that some changes do not produce an overall good for individuals or for society. There are often both good and bad elements to changes.

Figuring out if a change is overall good or bad is not easy. In general, we humans are not very good at seeing the "unintended consequences" of changes or new policies. Fortunately, over enough time, we begin to see the bad things that we didn't see in the beginning. We can then change directions and make changes to fix the problems we created.

The problem with making fixes is that there is often a lot of resistance to changes. People who had the power to make the old changes often have an emotional investment in the then "broken" system. They have a kind of mental blindness towards changing the system, because that would be an admission that their ideas contained mistakes, weaknesses, or were wrong.

Some people look at change as if it were progress, and therefore as good. It isn't necessarily true. It only takes a few moments of thought to realize that sometimes changes are bad. Look at the disaster which communism (a change) brought to Russia! It took 70 years to undo that mistake, and they are still struggling to fix their system!


When I was in school, K-8, life was different. Families were different. School was different. Children's activities were different. Entertainment was different. Advertising was different. Those differences seemed to all work towards a child 55 years ago having a better chance of developing a strong personhood, than is true today.


The material below is written as if the statements applied to all of today's kids. That of course is NOT true. Read as if each time it is saying something like "Far too many..." or "Far too often...".


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The Old Days versus Now - - -
 FAMILY

My family lived next door to one set of grandparents. The other set lived 1 mile away. Aunts and uncles and cousins were within easy driving distance. We saw them often. I interacted with these people.

My father worked, and my mother stayed home to raise us two kids.

My father taught me things like working with tools and wood, plumbing, house painting, and wisdom on his days off. Mom was the Cub Scout den mother. Later my dad was the Boy Scout leader. We each earned 26 merit badges, all the same except for 1, and both reached the rank of Eagle Scout plus one palm.

Today's child probably has both parents working. They often work longer hours than before. Because of the very real risks of street drugs, street violence, and very heavy vehicular traffic, we often drive kids to school and pick them up after school. This is a further demand upon the parent's time and energy. After a long day at work parents are tired out. It is hard to find quality time to spend with their kids. Our brains are tired, and we don't make the effort to think through and teach personhood lessons, even if we have the time. Many parents are really unclear on what to teach and how to teach it, even if they had the time and energy!

It is very common today for the parents to be divorced or separated, further fragmenting adult supervision, love, and teaching.

There is often no pool of adult wisdom to draw on, outside of the two tired parents. It is likely there are no extended family members like grandfathers, etc. near by who would otherwise be able to provide extra loving care and the wisdom of their years.

 
Today's kids don't get much help from their families in forming their personhood.
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SCHOOL

 I did not go to Jr. high. It didn't exist. I went K-8 with a single teacher at each grade level. Those teachers got to know each of us quite well, because they had only one class. They had time to explicitly teach us about life. In the public school I attended, in the eighth grade we had extensive lessons on dating and sex. We did not have electives. They had plenty of time to interact with us. They could see our strengths and weaknesses. They had the time to help us develop.
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 Today kids have Jr. high, usually grades 6-8. Each teacher sees each student for only 40 minuets or so per day, before the system's "conveyor belt" brings in another group. The teacher has to shift curriculum gears several times during the day. There is very little opportunity to really get to know the kids, and even less to interact with individuals except regarding that day's class work. Thus, today's Jr. High teacher has very little impact in helping individuals in their personhood growth.

Sufficient high quality guidance is critical for this age group. This is when they are building the personal skills, study skills, and philosophy they will need in High School. They are not getting it. Once in High School, it is too late for many.

Jr. High kids don't get much help from their teachers in forming their personhood.
 
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CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES

There were no TVs, no computers, no Game Boys. We did things. We played with toys we made. We learned to interact with other kids and with adults as we made our toys and as we played. When I was 11 my dad worked with me to build a SoapBox Derby racecar. I learned to use his table saw, band saw, sander, drills, and lots of hand tools. We kids had a lot of fun taking it to the top of the hill on our street and coasting a very long block.
 
I read my dad's photography magazines, national geographic, popular mechanics, and popular electronics. (Remember, there was no TV, video, or computers to waste my time.)
 
One year my older sister and I even made our own fireworks, with our parents' approval and oversight! We did lots of things which today's youth would never dream of trying to do! We learned to ask questions, to follow written directions, to understand how things worked. We learned that we were competent. We learned that with study and effort, and maybe a bit of help, we could do a lot of things.

 We were learning how to live. We were growing our brains!

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 I really do feel sorry for most kids today. They have all this high tech stuff they or their family members buy for them. But they are learning very little from it. They watch lots of videos and TV programs, but their brains are not engaged. They do not tackle constructive projects. Comparing their lives with mine, today's kids are living in intellectual poverty.

Kids activities don't help in forming their personhood. In fact, a lot of it is damaging.

 
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ENTERTAINMENT

 The movies I saw were good clean fun. The good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats (really!). The good guys always won. They were funny. They were beautiful. There was usually a good moral lesson, if you looked for it. There was no blood and guts all over the place. There was no violence just for violence sake. I don't remember seeing anything that made me uneasy.
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I go to few movies today. For some of them even the advertisements and promotional clips leave me cold, and wanting to get away from the sick ideas they promote, or the horrible things they portray. Good movies are still being made, but they are few and far between. I shake my head in disbelief thinking about the damage these films do to young minds.

 

Entertainment tends to build negative personhood!
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ADVERTISING

 When I was young, there were no slick and seductive TV ads to sell to kids (NO TV!). Advertisements in magazines and on radio did not use blatant sex appeal to sell. Most ads were "clean" and promoted good values.
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Today there are public ads everywhere, and some of them are sending messages that promote selfishness, greed, VERY perverted sex, etc.! Many of them promote low moral values, self-indulgence, and gratification, at the expense of higher standards of behavior. In order to sell stuff, they will use messages that further degrade the personhood of the children. They sell things by telling the kids that their lives are now unfulfilled and will be miserable without that product. They teach the kids to live for the now, for the pleasure, for the fun, and for the sex. They teach that only "now" is important. They teach kids to find the easy way out, and that hard work is to be avoided. They teach it is OK to lie to the boss, just so you can go have a good time instead of going to work (really!).

 

Advertising tends to build negative personhood!
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PEERS

When I was a teen, my peers were almost entirely adults. They were the Amateur Radio operators I knew. They ranged in age from 12 to past 65.
 
Most kids were decent. I don't remember ever seeing a fight between kids from K all the way through Jr. College!
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Children are not very good by themselves in inventing wise viewpoints, values, goals, and rules to live by. They need to be taught. If they are not taught by wise people they will acquire viewpoints, goals, and rules to live by from other sources, such as their peers. I think that today the saying "The blind leading the blind" fits quite well.


CHURCH

Church was a nice warm place for me, but it wasn't a strong influence upon me. From my perspective, much of church teaching is difficult for children to relate to their everyday individual lives.
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Today, unless the child is in an exceptional church program, I suspect it is not really a major influence.

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WHO IS RAISING THE KIDS?

 So let us review. Who is raising the kids? That is, who is teaching the moral lessons? Who is teaching them the wisdom learned by the prior generations? Who is teaching them the lessons on how to live a life? Who is teaching them the reason they need an education?
 
I can hear parents say "I tell them about things." My response is, "It is probably not effective". For every minute you have their ear they are bombarded by many minutes or hours of trash from advertisements and entertainment. And for every minute of truly good communications you have with them, they probably have 30 minutes of close interaction with their peers. Please answer this. Just how much of your communications and interaction each week with your child is devoted to undoing or countering what they receive from these other sources? Count up the time! (By the way, do you even know what negative messages have entered their minds?) The raw truth is ---

 

You are massively outgunned!

 

Your child is likely being raised mostly by himself, his peers, entertainment, and advertisements.

 

How does that make you feel???


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THE BOTTOM LINE...

 The answer to the starting question, "Why teach Personhood in school?" is starting to come into view… Much too often, nobody else is doing it effectively.
But you can't just open up the kid's skull and pour it in. The child has to understand the why. He has to understand how to live his life. He has to make these things "his own." He has to understand that the ultimate responsibility for the way he grows up resides within him!

If we can do that, then the child will be carrying around inside of him a considerable ability to sift out and keep the good that comes his way, and throw away the trash. If he has been properly and adequately taught, HE WILL WANT TO DO THAT! --- I have seen it happen.


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