When it comes to E.’s education, I’m often accused by my partner of being too soft. The reason for this is that we come from backgrounds with different educational models. He is more traditional, and I’m trying to do things a bit differently. For example, if E. doesn’t want to eat his food (which happens now and again) my partner’s approach is not to give him any other food until he eats what’s in front of him, whereas I’m happy to move on to the dessert and the yogurt and, if he is ill or unwell, to make something different.
My partner is more confrontational, whereas I try to negotiate with E. However, I have my doubts. Am I teaching him to believe that he will always have the possibility of choice?
Most of the books I read emphasise teaching children to choose instead of using an authoritave approach in which no choices are given at all. But what about a combination of the two approaches?
My concern is that by putting a lot of emphasis on choosing, on freedoms and rights, I’m not teaching him that sometimes in life there is no choice and you need to deal with the situation the way it is and to accept it.
I see this when I’m teaching at the university. Many students claim their rights without paying much attention to their duties. I believe that in education and any process of learning the student needs to trust the teacher or carer, sometimes accepting what he/she says even when he doesn’t understand it. For me this is part of the process of learning.
The difference with my partner is that although I was educated in an authoritative system I see the pitfalls. But sometimes I have doubts about whether I’m going to make E. a very demanding person in terms of his rights and not in terms of his duties: someone unable to accept certain things in life.
I feel that in our Western world we praise rights, freedoms and choices and we love reforming and changing situations, whereas in Eastern cultures people learn to accept life. I’m not saying that this is good all the time, but there are certain things that cannot be changed (you get old, you die, you get ill, loved ones pass away, etc.).
Can you believe that it took me an hour and a half to fall sleep last night thinking about this?