Innocent? Naive? Who are you kidding?

opinion January 06, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

2,276 Viewed

Children are often noted for innocence or naivety but increasingly it's Adults who suffer self-doubt in our fast-changing world

It's not quite so in this era, as the dizzying pace of technological advancement means the ones who have to struggle to understand the world are those who grew up unfamiliar with YouTube, Google or LINE. Whereas today’s kids go about in a world driven by “applications” with relative ease, adults are like rabbits in the headlights. Look who has to be babysat in tech stores.
Problem is, it’s not just the tech stores. This has become a planet where children “know first” in many cases. 
Adults may “take the hot bath before the children do”, as an old Thai saying goes, but it's the latter who are more exposed to fresh historical, scientific and archaeological discoveries as well as musical or cultural inventions. They say new waves often catch up with the old ones, but what if new waves are starting off way ahead to begin with?
The best we can do is teach them to ride the bicycle. If you want to buy the coolest devices, consult the rascals. 
Children’s Day used to be a celebration of an important step that the older generations had taken before them, yet that sense of compassionate superiority among adults barely holds nowadays. Of course, the old still want the young to go all the way and accomplish what they cannot, but what hurts is the latter's fast-increasing degree of independence.   
Younger generations are growing up watching TV series in which the villains can no longer be smelled from miles away. 
To today’s adults “The world is grey” is an ideological comfort, a phase that is usually said but not quite believed. But today’s children are born into a “grey” world, and they will teach us with absolute certainty that it’s a mistake to see things as black and white.
The real comfort for today’s adults is that human beings are supposed to be smarter or think differently with every passing generation. The adults themselves are part of generations that buried the witch-hunt, eliminated slavery and stopped believing that the world was flat. 
Evolution just seems to be getting a lot faster these days.
So, who are naive, actually? Is it the children, who are learning the possibility of multiple universes – or their parents, who are still using money to value success? Who knows more about good and bad? And remember, some youngsters were taught – are still being taught – that killing “God’s enemies” will take them to heaven.
Educators, everyone agrees, play the most important role. But as we know, children absorb everything from everyone. 
Experiences, therefore, are still valuable, although it’s a lot safer to give them to the kids with a disclaimer. 
Perhaps we can go with 
something like, “This is how my generation would do it” or “This is what my generation believed.”  
Forget arranging Government House tours and putting tanks and jet fighters on show. 
The ultimate question is: What should we teach the young? 
Maybe the bicycle advice is not such a bad concept, philosophically speaking: Keep your eyes open, maintain balance and never stop going forward. 
Life is the view upfront and on the roadsides, they should be told, and each rider will enjoy the ride for themselves, which is, more likely than not, something even the teacher never experienced before.