Essays / Generic / The Pontifical Papers

WHAT TO TEACH THE CHILDREN | by Ayo Sogunro

We should teach the children History, because we cannot determine our destinations if we do not know our origins. We should teach children what we know of history and not what we wish it were. We should teach them not just our personal history but also the history of all humanity: because everyone’s story matters and we can learn even more from the journeys of others. We should teach the children to value the sufferings and pains of the past so that they do not repeat the causes of damage; to value the sacrifice and strength of those who laboured — so that we do not nullify their efforts. We should teach children not to fear the past. The past never changes and acceptance of the past does not diminish the present.

We should teach the children the nature of Being. We should teach them the balance between the mind, the body and the emotions. That our senses, however limited, are to be treasured: for they connect us to objective reality through pain and pleasure. That our emotions are to be explored and acknowledged: for they shape our identities and negotiate our relationships with nature and with other living things. That our mind should be nurtured: for it gives purpose and direction to our emotions and senses. We should teach the children to value balance, and not to champion one part of existence at the expense of others.

We should teach the children the diversity of Nature so that they may respect the things that seem different. We should teach the children that no perspective or idea is “fixed” because we do not know everything and what we know – or think we know – today can be changed by the facts of tomorrow. We should teach them that nature is rich and diverse and creates unexpected forms and shapes and sizes and we should accept all of these with wonder and gratitude and curiosity. That nothing and no one is unnatural because all existence is within nature. That no human is in full control of the fate and shape of their own nature and we are limited in what we can change about ourselves. We should teach them not to disdain the uncommon. For those whom we call disabled are reflections of our social inabilities, and what we call strange is a reflection of our ignorance. We should teach the children that nature teaches us when we are willing to learn. That nature should not be shunned and avoided but courted and won through the growth of technology and the scientific method.

We should teach the children the Scientific Method and the way of Critical Thinking. Science stirs our curiosity of the universe and rescues us from the dictatorship of ignorance, or the misrule of continuous error. The ability to think critically is the golden platform that elevates us above other living things. We must not squander the gift of thought either by ignoring it or by abusing it, generating death and suffering and the destruction of thought itself. We should teach the children to value experiment and the path of reason, for through these things we have conquered mountains, explored the oceans and flirted with the domains of space.

We should teach the children Ethics: because our emotions fluctuate but ethics stabilise our interaction with nature and with other humans. We should teach them that there are different approaches to ethics but oppressive ethics are unethical for they defeat the purpose of ethics. That ethics should never be a basis for discrimination or it becomes a tool of evil. That the only worthy ethics are those that value the humane and unite human values. We should teach the children that religion is different from ethic; that the religious is not always ethical, and the ethical is not always religious. That religion is a choice but ethic is a responsibility towards society. That these two should not be conflated otherwise society will crumble into cruel hierarchies and destructive segregations.

We should teach the children the Law. Not the law made by groups of men and women, but the law of humanity, founded in worthy ethics and expressed in the notion of human rights. We should teach the children that the law of humanity emphasises freedom, equality and solidarity. This is the basic norm from which all good laws derive. We should teach the children the philosophy of law. We should teach them that the good law respects, protects and unites. The good law does not oppress or command or repress. The good law reforms, enhances, and regenerates life. We should teach the children that laws should make life easier for society and not more burdensome.

We should teach the children the unity of Humanity. That we are all, in essence, floating atoms, combined in arbitrary ways to produce shapes and colours and sizes. That we are the product of a unified dimension in space and time and all of humanity is united in physics and bound by the laws of physics. That black and white and more, male and female and more are all one unified matter. We should teach the children that difference does not mean separation. That existence is a theory of everyone. That race is arbitrary and the nature of society is transient. We should show them that the earth – for all of its wonders – is but a very insignificant dot in a very large and complex picture. That our squabbles and quarrels over identities and borders and territories are important only to the extent that they enhance self-worth but lose meaning in the grand scheme of all things.

We should teach the children never to stop wondering and questioning. We should tell them to never lose sight of the large picture, not to get lost in the challenges of daily living. Never to take for granted the hospitability of our solar system, the beauty of our galaxy and the complexity of the universe in which are now privileged to be conscious of our own existence.

We should teach the children Philosophy.


Originally published in slightly modified form here in my weekly column for Sunday Punch.

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Ever wondered about the class structure of Nigerian society? Read the mini-series on the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy.

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4 thoughts on “WHAT TO TEACH THE CHILDREN | by Ayo Sogunro

  1. Beautiful! Beautifully written and very true! Reading your articles is always thought provoking and a pleasure for me! Well done!

    Like

  2. Very insightful especially the emphasis on ethics. This will help shapen society and the way we relate with each other. Nice write up.

    Like

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