Culture; The Most Important Subject your Child might Never Learn in School
It is well known that people’s behavior is strongly influenced by their learned values, attitudes, goals, and practices - all which are elements of culture. Yet, though education, at its core, is meant to produce the most suitable individuals for society, the active development of culture in children, which entails moral, social, and cognitive skills, is largely ignored in today’s educational system.
When children are born, they base their entire perception of right and wrong on rewards and punishment. Depending on how others react to their behavior, children understand a conduct as acceptable or unacceptable. However as children mature, they begin to acquire autonomy - the ability to make decisions and govern themselves. With this ability, children start making choices not based on fear or desire of a certain consequence, but based on their individual perception of what is right or wrong. Consequently, they start exercising moral and intellectual thought processing - both of which are crucial components of a good culture.
However, traditional education does not stimulate, and even prevents, the development of autonomy in the learner. This happens because, customarily, schools are structured in a manner that makes the teacher appear as the holder of all knowledge while the student takes a passive role on his or her education. In this system, children’s behavior is influenced almost entirely by the use of punishment and reward, and the child is not often given the opportunity to understand the true consequence of their actions and the reflective reason why the behavior is bad. This combination of traits in the school system stimulates the development of a society of individuals who are followers, and who do the right thing based on fear of consequence and are, accordingly, likely to cheat if the consequence is avoidable.
With this said, schools today need to create cultures that stimulate free thinking and collaborative thinking among students, in which the teacher is a partner in the learning process, who guides the child to understanding that truth is universal, and something everyone can achieve. Regardless of how young the child is, there needs to be a culture of thinking in the schools and households, in which the norm is open mind-ness, curiosity, and free discussion of scholastic and moral issues. This way, with the addition of routines and exercises, each child can become an intellectual and moral leader, and we can develop a culture in our children that will not only benefit them, but the world as well.