We may fear that a given problem requires coercion or self-sacrifice on our part, but if we nevertheless assume that our fear is mistaken and have fun coming up with possible solutions, often, that can-do attitude can make a difference.
People sometimes say explicitly that they are fallibilists, but inexplicably they are ‘saying’ that they are infallibilists. They say people are fallible and not omniscient, but they act as if they think people see the truth yet are wickedly choosing evil.
We look for solutions that everyone, children included, feel good about. We figure it out! And we relish figuring it out!
Most problems are solved without any explicit communication. To the extent that people think of ‘finding common preferences’ as requiring or implying the need for explicit discussions, that is an understandable but very unfortunate misunderstanding.
Other people can behave badly, and we can view it as a problem to solve rather than being horribly distressed, wounded and irredeemably damaged.
Knowledge is conjectural, and we are all fallible. When everything is open to question and we do not hold anything or anyone as an authority, we are free to correct errors that otherwise would have kept us stuck and miserable. Yay!
We look at our respective reasons for wanting what we initially want, and we create a way to proceed that we all prefer—a new idea that did not exist at the outset.
Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children—a non-paternalistic view: like other groups of human beings, children are people, not pets, prisoners or property. Full people whose lives are their own, not a different kind of person – full, equal humans who should no more be coerced and manipulated and moulded and shaped by others than we adults should be.
Three examples of explicitly coercive and implicitly coercive approaches, and Taking Children Seriously approaches to sample problems. Each scenario is also followed by a list of possible solutions as well as some suggestions on how one might prepare for solving such problems in the future.
Practical suggestions about a child not wanting to wear a prescribed eyepatch.
Taking children seriously means taking a child’s wish/decision to go to school seriously too.
Encouraging children fully express their big emotions does not solve the problem and may well be intrusive. Children’s inner lives are private. The idea that merely getting the emotion out solves the problem is a mistake. Problems are soluble, and it is fun to do so. Part of why children have these big emotions is that they are not being taken seriously and problems are not actually getting solved.
Videogame players are learning not just knowledge of the overt subject-matter of the game, but inexplicit knowledge that applies in all creativity in the world. In a way, they are (mainly inexplicitly) learning how the universe works.
When one is the victim of a great injustice, there is a tremendous temptation to define oneself, and one’s life, at least partly in terms of this injustice. The victim mentality is a terrible mistake because it sabotages the vital process of learning how to have a happy life, solving problems as you go along.
Those who believe the conflict-of-interest theory alleging that problems are not soluble will always be puzzled when they find a situation that looks like an inherent conflict of interest but turns out not to be, as commonly happens when people start taking their children seriously.
Creativity is about solving problems, and every single area of life there is involves solving problems. The alcoholic, the drug addict, the person whose relationships are destructive, the person who is unable to support himself—all these people lack creativity in those areas. Coercion causes a lack of creativity. Let’s try not to impede and impair our children’s creativity!
Learning involves changing preferences. Resolving disagreements involves changing preferences. People’s preferences are not fixed: they naturally change all the time. Problems are soluble!