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can we stop dumbing kids down

Yosuf Ali
2 min read

We as ‘adults’ often have individual norms that have been created as a result of multiple factors including our social norms. Somewhere along our timelines, we may have been told we were capable of doing difficult things, or we were incapable. We may have been exposed to difficult challenges and tasks, or maybe not. Everything we’ve been through as individuals have shaped our individual norms.

New humans, aka kids, do not have solidified norms yet. They’re still developing them. And since we’re the all knowledgeable adults to them, they learn from us. They copy what we do and listen to what we say.

If you are the type of person to stop trying something new after a few times because you find it difficult (as a result of your individual norm), you should think twice about the advice you give to a toddler. If they’re trying something new and feel like giving up, do you tell them to stop and go play with their toys, or do you tell them that everything new will be difficult at first, but eventually becomes easy with practice? If you’re doing your biology homework, and your 3 year old sibling walks up to you and asks “what you doing?”, do not reply with “homework”. Tell them you’re learning about photosynthesis. And when they ask “what’s photoslnfgkajsbga?” you tell them what it is: “it’s how plants breathe.” Maybe go out into the garden and use a plant to aid in your simplified explanation.

Children are not stupid, we’re making them stupid. We’ve established this norm for them that is “they’re kids, they won’t be able to comprehend it anyway”. Based on what exactly? I’m not asking we explain difficult scientific concepts to them in detail, just let them know those concepts exist. Teach them about history (maybe try to avoid wars and concepts like capitalism, we don’t want to strip them of their childhood). Don’t replace long words with easier to use shorter ones during conversation. Let them ask you what words mean. Your norm might be to be bilingual, don’t impose that norm on those that look up to you. There’s no reason they can’t be multilingual as children.

I don’t know if it’s just a lack of ambition on a human level, where most people don’t really strive to be multilingual, or strive to be good at mathematics, or art, or anything. Or if it’s just complacency with current norms. But unfortunately, our complacent lack of ambition is filtering down into the younger generations. And most schooling systems are not really helping.

This applies to pretty much any young person, not just toddlers/children. Get your children and/or young siblings reading more. Grow a love of learning within them while teaching them they’re capable of anything they’re willing to work for and hopefully they’ll be a lot more ambitious and self-confident when they’re older than the average human today.