535. From the Mouths of Babes

Many of us adults have learned a lot, and much of what we’ve learned has proven to be well worth having learned. Sometimes we take what we know and use it to do great things. And we avoid major problems because we can tell that they’re coming, and we’ve learned what to do about them. When we see gaps in children’s knowledge, we do our best to help children fill in those gaps. We hope at least some of what we’ve learned is somewhat transferable.
I really do believe that growing up can be, and often is, a creative process. As much as I love children, I don’t want them to stay children forever. That’s a main reason I teach, and it’s a main reason for the parenting and other relating with children that has been and is a major theme of my life. I want to have a positive impact on the future, and the way I, personally, can do that most effectively is by relating with children.
But what we learn as we grow up isn’t reliably useful. As we grow and learn, we pick up some bits of wrong information. We don’t always recognize it as wrong, and so we use some misconceptions and mistakes to build our lives. We move headlong into trouble, thinking we know exactly what we’re doing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve made some decisions that could have been made better if I’d thought better and knew more. I made some of those decisions because I learned things that I now think were wrong.
Children, not having been around as long as adults, usually haven’t learned as much as adults have. That can mean they aren’t as wise and practical as adults are. But it isn’t always that way. It can also mean they haven’t learned as many counterproductive and otherwise wrong things as adults have. That means they can see things in important, insightful ways that adults may miss.
Sometimes we adults are amused by comments children make when they don’t seem to be thinking clearly or expressing their thoughts effectively. But sometimes children say things we’d be smart to listen to. Not having learned some of the ineffective thought patterns we’ve learned, they offer us fresh insight. They can teach us things we knew and unlearned, or help us clear up our thinking.
This isn’t the way things usually are. If it were, growing up would be a counterproductive thing to do. But it’s important to listen to what children say. Not always to help them be more like us; sometimes to make sure we’ve got it right. Sometimes pearls of wisdom do come from the mouths of babes.

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