I am going to wade into something some parents and people in general might take issue with, but I am going to do it, anyway. I think it is a conversation that parents everywhere need to have with educators.
I am not a prude. I don’t believe in treating children as a collective of village idiots. But I do believe there are topics that are age-appropriate.
A few years ago a friend told me about a program a private school was running with elementary/middle-school aged kids about being gay. At that age, most kids have no inclination of what that means even if they have same-sex parents. Anyway, my friend told me of the confusion and upset it caused the children. Not the parents – the kids. At the time I wondered aloud to my friend why they did this with kids so young and naive. Basically kids who hadn’t even had any sex ed classes, either.
Now I am asking the same question of schools preparing for mock elections: what is age appropriate and when does it cross a line and make people fear there is another political agenda? (And I will note that I have a BIG problem with educators who bring personal politics of ANY kind into a classroom – it is not right – they are supposed to teach and be apolitical, educational Switzerland. Not put forth political agendas.)
What has got me on this topic? Things I am hearing from parents all over whose kids are getting ready for mock elections at school. Some schools require kids to have specific homework projects on it.
I have no problem with mock elections, I participated in my first one in 7th or 8th grade (when Jimmy Carter ran and became president).
What I have a problem with are some teachers are not only asking kids to do this but include as age appropriate topics for the NOT upper levels of high school set: abortion and gay marriage. These kids are elementary and middle schoolers. Not even high schoolers.
That truly bothers me. What life experience and complex emotional capability do 10 – 14 year olds have to discuss gay marriage and abortion? This is a complex subject, and to me it is something to be discussed at home….when they are older, or basically when the PARENTS decide. And truthfully, I don’t think the lower end of high schoolers (9th and 10th grades) should have this shoved at them as appropriate discussion either.
I am not even sure the average middle schooler can comprehend and articulate on the topic of gun control either for that matter. I mean is it really necessary?
And let me be clear, I might be a Republican, but I am decidedly pro-choice which is why I am also a ticket splitter half the time. And I believe that a woman should have a right to choose and it is also a personal matter. It is not for political platforms, courts, or pulpits.
As for gay marriage. Really? Who does it hurt? Can you see it from your window? I have friends who have kids in their kids’ classes with same-sex parents. Everyone gets along just fine. No one feels the need to wave a flag. It just is. The kids and the parents are accepted.
I just feel that these are very complicated topics that adults can’t even discuss pleasantly for the most part. So why do middle schoolers and elementary schoolers have to?
I just do not see it as appropriate, and I question the underlying motives of any teacher that does this and school that promotes or allows this.
There is enough to learn about the electoral process, the issues, and individual politicians without having to explain to kids who haven’t even had sex ed in a lot of cases what abortion is. Or to give them a pre-disposition towards gay marriage.
We do need to teach our children well. But certain topics? Best saved for another discussion…and to an extent, I feel that there are certain conversations which should occur at home when parents decide the time is right.
Seriously, I think it is bad enough when parents dress their kids like mini-me versions of themselves and schedule them so hard they don’t really know what it is to just be a kid, but to weigh them down with topics they are not emotionally or intellectually equipped to handle? Just not right.