Lies We Tell Children Part 3

I am having a little fun looking at some of the lies we tell children.  There are so many little ones that are harmless or maybe even helpful.  A good friend of mine has a daughter who has recently developed a fear of the monsters that live in her closet.  He and his wife have given her “Monster Spray” to use before she goes to bed.  This little lie helps her go to sleep at night and rest peacefully knowing the Monsters cannot get to her.

Other lies, and the ones I am more interested in, are the ones that seem to be for the good but have the potential to have horrible consequences.  In Lies We Tell Children Parts 1 and 2 we discussed the motivational lie that “You can accomplish anything you put your mind to”

Another favorite lie told by adults in an attempt to inspire not only children but other adults as well, is that the key to happiness is to “live each day as if it is your last.”  This is one part lie and one part advice but the potential result is the same.

I don’t think people are as likely to take this lie as literally as the first,  but it is still fun to play with the absurd nature of this lie and its implications.  It is a well intended lie that asserts  that we will not find happiness living in the past, nor will we discover fulfillment by only looking to the future and delaying our gratification until we reach “someday.”

The “greater truth” in this lie is that we should appreciate and take full advantage of right now.  To live in the present and enjoy the moment.  Not to wait until tomorrow but to seize the day to do the things you have always wanted.

But really does anybody really think this is a good idea?  If today were my last day on Earth and I was literally going to live it like there was no tomorrow, I would certainly not go to work.  Sure I might make sure I touch base with all my loved ones and make sure they know how much I love them, but I would not bother flossing my teeth.  The dishes in the sink could sit.  I have always wondered what it would be like to rob a bank and try to get away.  That might be an option.  I might as well try that dangerously addictive and life ruining drug I have always been warned about.  Maybe I would empty my bank account and go on a spending spree.

Imagine if the whole world decided one day to live it like it were the last. All the spending might be just the boost the economy needs right now but imagine the chaos.

What would you do?


Lies We Tell Children Part 2

“You can accomplish anything you put your mind to!”  This is the same as the lie in my last post “If you have a dream, and believe in yourself, and never give up, then you can do anything!”

Obviously neither version of this lie is true, yet audiences rise to their feet and applaud at the conclusion of a rousing and inspirational speech given by a person who overcame great odds, broke through impossible barriers, or ignored all the people who said “you can’t” and did it anyway.

We approve of this message for kids and hope that it will inspire them to follow their dreams and to persevere through hard times because “when the going gets tough…..”  But does this lie really foster drive, persistence, dedication, determination, and courage?  Do kids work harder and give up less often when they believe in this lie?  If so then maybe it is worth telling.

The alternative is to tell kids the truth.  But the truth is not nearly as dramatic and therefore less fun.

The truth is that each of us possesses a set of genetic, environmental, intellectual, and social limits or maximum potentials.  My genetic limits represented by my height, body make up and athletic ability, will probably not allow me to win the NBA slam dunk competition but if I worked hard enough, believed in myself, and really put my mind to it, maybe I could have touched the rim.

Personally I find discovering my limits within the tasks and dreams I choose to pursue incredibly rewarding.  I am under no allusions that I can do anything I put my mind to, but I know I can get better at the things I do through the same kind of hard work, desire, belief in myself, and determination the motivational speakers talk about.  But would children (and adults for that matter) be inspired by this message?

Several people commented yesterday on Lies We Tel Children Part 1.  I would highly recommend you read these comments if you are interested in this topic.  The replies deal with such things as cultural perspectives, greater truths, realistic goals, and the danger or equating accomplishing our dreams with happiness.  There is some great insight there!

In my next post I will look at another lie we tell children.  We all know this lie.  We have all heard it many times.  Most of us are probably inspired by it,  but if we all followed it, the world would descend into chaos!

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Lies We Tell Children Part 1

I am using this Blog as practice for a second Blog which I will be posting in the coming weeks with Todd Lile.  We will be blogging about our book, sharing insights, thoughts, and ideas related to the book, for those of you interested in following along.  This Blog will contain other ideas that go through my head.  Like this one.

There are a number of lies we adults tell children.  I will write about them one at a time.  The first lie is perhaps the most dangerous.  It is a staple of the motivational speaker diet.  Parents, teachers, celebrities, and athletes all know and spread this lie.  It goes something like this:

“If you have a dream and believe in yourself and never give up, then you can do anything!”

Really?  Seriously?  Is this a healthy message?  What if my dream when I was young, was to one day win the NBA Slam Dunk competition?  I knew it was possible because I heard the winner being interviewed.  He looked straight into the camera told the whole world the famous lie about this being his dream and he encouraged little kids like me to do the same.  So maybe  I believed in myself.  Maybe I trained everyday.  Maybe I learned how to dribble with my left hand!  Wait a minute….  My mom is 5’2″ and my Father is 5’6″.  Maybe the cards were stacked against me. But if I could just believe…….  But if I just never gave up……..

Is it possible this lie does more harm than good?  If “anything is possible” if we “never give up” then when we fail to achieve whatever dream (like me getting to play in the NBA let alone winning the slam dunk contest) then it is not because we lack the physical or genetic gifts, or what ever ingredients necessary.  It is because we lack the strength of character to follow our dream.  It must be because we gave up.

Is this really what we want to tell our children?   More on this in Part 2

9 Random People

Yesterday I wrote my first blog about how I started blogging.  How original.  Today I will write what I have learned about blogging in the last 24 hours.  Again very original.

I have taken about 4 video tutorials on blogging and read probably 15 different Blogs about how to do blogs.  Time well spent?  Well ……….. when I looked at my stats for the day yesterday, I noticed that 11 people had found my blog and 3 visited the about the author page!

I know one of these people was my mother and another was a new friend I met yesterday at the climbing gym.  That leaves 9 mystery people that somehow managed to surf across my words.  With a response like that, how can I deny that all this time has been worth the investment?

With all this momentum building behind me, I think it is time to start writing about what really interests me.  Hopefully some of what fires me up, will speak to the 9 random people a day who I expect to continue getting.  Maybe together we will discover the meaning of life, how to fix the world by fixing eduction, how “what you are like” is just as important as “what you know” and “what you can do”.  Maybe we will learn about the nature of success, the nature of our selves, and maybe even share a laugh or two.

So to my mother, my new climbing friend, and my 9 faceless yet avid readers;  Thank you for making day one such a smashing success!  To the new friends about to join, welcome to the adventure!

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The Reluctant Technophile

When I was younger I embraced technology!  I made the transition from cassette tapes to CDs rather smoothly and when I was introduced to email in 1990, I immediately hopped on board and started filling my friends in-boxes with pointless drivel.

Then I graduated from University and held a degree declaring me “educated”.  I was a finished product knowing all I needed to know to enter the real world and be successful.  I unconsciously accepted the idea that I was done and with that acceptance, I took a giant stride towards old age.  No new tricks for this old dog!  When cell phones and pagers became affordable to the masses, I rejected the notion that I would ever need one.  I had an answering machine at home instructing people to leave a message.  This was all I would ever need.

Eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that being unavailable was not OK in my line of work so I walked into the phone store with my tail between my legs and bought my first phone.  The story was much the same when text messaging popped up.  Why would any one go through all the trouble of typing on a number keypad when they could just call?  Years later I mashed my first message into my cell with clumsy thumbs and joined the world of texting fools.

A student of mine drug me kicking and screaming into the Facebook world after months of refusing to join.  She offered to be my “Facebook manager” and for several months did all of my Facebook business for me and built up my network of friends.  Now, I am an avid user who wonders how we ever really knew anyone before we could snoop around on their profile!

So that brings me to this day.  I have faithfully and predictably been resisting the latest trends in technology and communications.  I still do not get twitter and this whole blog thing seems a little overwhelming, but today I take the leap.  This is my first blog and I have even set up a twitter account.

I expect that I will come to find these new ways of communicating just as useful and fun as texting and Facebook but that does not mean I have to be happy about it.