As a high school theology teacher, I witness a lack of student engagement. They want an “A”, not an education. Most students are distracted, less eager to learn, and disrespectful. Their lack of respect stems from a disinterest in any wisdom their educators long to impart to them. They are not wholly to blame, however. Society today praises and sensationalizes electronics in the classroom. In the laziness of youth, it is more enticing to students to gather a quick answer from their electronic device rather than to engage with educators in challenging discussions. Electronics foster convenience, but the acquisition of knowledge is not a task of idleness.
Students are then vulnerable to relativism, and in turn, the search for truth is seemingly irrelevant. As students cease to participate in the classroom, their lack of participation extends to the outside world. It extends to a lack of their participation in humanity as they avoid truly thought-provoking and challenging concepts, such as the mystery of life. I believe children are being deprived of the natural development of reason that is enabled through curiosity. In the years if innocence, kids are naturally curious and ask many questions, but after the introduction to technology and relativism, the desire to know truth lessens.
There is a great need to be cultivate the curiosity of children in adolescence, especially since it is at this stage in life that man is most curious. In fact, Plato states that, “anything received into the mind of the child is likely to become indelible and unalterable, therefore it is important that the tales which the young first hear are models of virtuous thoughts.”1 The curiosity of a child is sacred, because it allows a child to step into the mystery of life and begin their search for truth. It is imperative then that parents and those responsible for educating children assist in the development of the child’s natural progress of reason, so that he may too find happiness. Yet, are today’s parents fostering their children’s curiosity?
More often than not one may witness a child accompanying his family to dinner at a restaurant, and when the child’s restlessness and questioning becomes unbearable for the accompanying adults, they provide electronics to entertain the child. In an instant, the child’s natural desire for their parents’ wisdom is shutdown. Parents no longer feel an obligation to accept the parental responsibility of guiding their children to seek truth through their curious exploration of the mystery of life. When the child is distracted, parenting becomes secondary. The parent has unintentionally conditioned their child to engage in something that is instantly gratifying to them at the sake of their curiosity being fostered.
Next to education in the home, the other avenue to develop reason and pursue truth in the mystery of life is through education in school. However, with the developmental lack of reason experienced in the home, student’s want to learn how to obtain gratification as quickly as possible, which is what sells in today’s educational systems (technology-based curriculum). Consequently, teachers are given access to a “get out of teaching card.”
With the temptation for parents to “silence” their children with devices and curriculums sold to teachers leaning heavily toward sloppy thinking, the rational development of a child is impaired. Curiosity, and dare I say, imagination, have been stripped clean from the modern child. Learning, retaining, and applying information is no longer needed since the internet is available at all times. There is no need to pay attention to the teacher, ask questions, or have discussions in class because answers can be obtained from the student’s “mobile mind.” However, a student’s mind was never created to learn from machines. The human mind was meant to learn from one of the key foundations of human nature, that of being social. Meaning, humans learn from other humans because we all share in the mystery of life, which cannot be answered by a machine. When the human element is taken out of the classroom we become machines because we are learning from them. Consequently, students lose their nature and experience restlessness rather than true happiness. The natural longing for truth is lost, spurring a disrespect for creation, and ultimately the Creator.
To be blunt, we need to make sure we, as parents and teachers, form our children in ways that tend to and grow the life of the mind. Our intellect is what separates us from the beasts, but if we dull that intellect, especially in the early years, we are likely to become just one more mechanical relativist today, or we will be beasts.