I met a teacher at a function this week and he told me about a discussion he had with a pupil’s father at a parents’ evening.
“He told me not to bother with trivialities such as maths and science. The one thing he wants me to teach his son is to fight for what he believes in. Bloody fool.”
Then, he continued with an explanation which had me thinking. “In our country, you are free to believe whatever you want, no matter how stupid it is.
“You don’t have to fight for it and even if you did, I think it is a form of abuse to teach children that violence is the way to solve differences. Unless you want to ram your beliefs down other people’s throats, which is immoral in any case.
“An example: I believe in a certain green dishwashing liquid. Some people believe in different products. If I want to fight about dishwashing liquid, I’m not a hero with principles. I’m a damn idiot.”
He explained that knowing something and believing something are two different things.
When you believe in something, you don’t know it for certain. You can’t prove it. You may be completely mistaken. Beliefs change in any case, he elaborated.
“Why fight for something you can’t prove and which may change? That’s madness!”
He told me about Kevin, an Irish boy who emigrated to South Africa during his school days. Kevin believed Irishmen were all superior fighters and he told the school bully about his belief. The bully had different ideas and he fought for what he believed in.
When Kevin got home that afternoon, his eyes were punched as thick as a politician’s wallet. His mom believed it would be years before Kevin learned snippets of a local language. Her belief, like Kevin’s that morning, proved to be misplaced.
“I got donnered,” he said.
The teacher continued: “The only way for a child to grow intellectually, is to teach him to be tolerant of beliefs that differ from his own. To measure different ideas and to think for yourself. An open mind is a growing mind.”
And that is exactly the way I want to raise the three-year-old Egg. If you ever preach the idiocy of “fight for what you believe in” to my little girl, I might just turn into the guy who disagreed with little Kevin.
Dirk Lotriet. Picture: Alaister Russell
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