Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Content --> Conversations

This is part 3 of a series following up on a question about wise ways to introduce your children to the study of current events. (Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2).

Let me reiterate. Our goal is to help our children know what is going on in the world in a way that stretches them but doesn't expose them to issues beyond their maturity level. As I said before, part of the answer will depend on your specific needs as a family. You are your children's first and best teacher, so you know their maturity level better than anyone, and only you and your family can decide the best strategy for introducing challenging topics.

Today I want to think further about tackling current events on the level of ideas. What do I mean by that?

Let me begin by affirming that teaching content is important, and figuring out how to do it wisely even more so. Unfortunately, there will always be content issues and biases.

If you have concerns about avoiding specific types of content (images, advertisements, etc.), using print resources (newspapers and magazines) instead of the Internet can give you greater control over what your children see; parental controls can help you filter out certain types of material, and previewing the sources you plan to use can head off exposure to stories and pictures beyond their maturity level. In any case, working alongside your children gives you the chance to guide their reading and research and talk through the issues they encounter.

These conversations are so important, because studying current events is all about moving into the realm of ideas that shape how we think and how our culture thinks. Particularly with your older children, ask lots of questions, like...

Which news stories are getting coverage? Which ones are not? Why?
What do these stories have in common?
Does political correctness matter? Why are names and words important?
What kind of evidence do newspapers use? Can we trust polls and surveys? Experts?
Why is it a problem for journalists to include opinion in the news?
To whom should journalists be responsible?
Why does the news include more tragedy and scandal than success?
What is the purpose of the news? Why do we need to be informed about the world?

And from there, asking...

Can we understand these events better in light of history?
How much importance should we attach to popular trends?
How do we respond to pain and ugliness in the world?
How do we view these facts and opinions in light of truth?

Ultimately, as we study current events, I want to think about circling back (enkyklos-paideia) to another question: How do these events fit into the bigger Story of redemption?

What do you think?

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