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← Guidance in turning my children to reason

Pete H's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Pete H

I don’t have anything like the same religion problem. But I have made considerable effort over the last 10 or more years to ensure that my kids are on the way to experiencing as much as possible and pretty much knowing everything. This includes insights into the psychology of cults and conformity – which is where religious thinking gets established in kids.

Religious indoctrination is really an attempt to control people by shutting down their curiosity about the natural world. A way of tricking the mind of young people that explanations are futile, or already known and fully explained and that they would look foolish in questioning. The antidote is obvious.

18 years of age is well beyond the possibility of any parental direction on activity. My oldest is now 18 and I now have virtually no influence. My input is limited to paying for petrol. You’re doing reasonable well if they don’t drink, smoke, drug, drive dangerously, get anyone pregnant, keep playing sport and do at least some schoolwork. Age 15 to 16 is around when they become independent and aren’t interested in experiences directed by parents.

I’m still continuing with my 14 year old. This mostly involves watching doco videos together. It’s easy to tell if it’s worthwhile by the questions that pop up.

I’ve had no issues with my boys’ exposure to scripture classes, religious youth groups, and events etc. I’m reasonably confident they are fairly immune to indoctrination and would only attend to check out the girls. Unless your local church has an unusually talented choir or other attraction then religion will be inherently dull to an active mind. It’s reasonably difficult to get kids to do anything they’re not really interested in. Many church-related events for kids are non-religious. Just members doing good work in the community. So, as long as they’re exposed to some antidote, you probably don’t need to be too concerned about the risks of indoctrination.

By my kids ‘knowing everything’ I mean in the sense of David Deutsch (British physicist and radical education blogger). Which means having some comprehension of the sets of key theories that describe and explain the most important things that are understood by humans today. Much is already taught in school, though not always effectively. All that’s required is for some exposure that these explanations exist, along with the basic maths and scientific philosophy that underpins them. They don’t have to learn the material to a directly recallable level. Just to begin filling the void with something that is more interesting and less incredible than alternative pseudo-scientific or supernatural explanations. (Or worse – a growing lack of curiosity and interest in explanation.)

Regarding video resources (kids don’t read much these days – except via facebook) there’s some fantastic stuff around from BBC and PBS, easily obtainable either on disk from local stores or libraries, torrents, or YouTube and broadcaster’s websites. The Teaching Company is also excellent, though more of the traditional lecture style, more oriented to adults with an already developed concentration span. Still useful if you mix it up with the more flashy stuff with the sound bites, fast moving images, and flashing lights.

If you’re interested then I can post a list of some of the material I think has been very good. There’s some old discussion threads here somewhere with recommendations. Most of the good stuff will be on public broadcast at some point – but in among the clutter. Southpark, Futurama, Simpsons, Family Guy, and movies will always be more superficially attractive. So you need to separate out the good stuff and make time for it. About an hour a day on weekends is about all that’s achievable. You’ll also find that Southpark, Futurama, Simpsons, and Family Guy can be excellent antidotes to all kinds of human foolishness. If your kids are going to watch entertaining crap on TV, then this material is very much on the antidote side of things.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 20:57:23 UTC | #950462