As a long time early childhood educator I think it must be an interesting time to be a child. We live in a period of great uncertainty and face a future that will almost certainly be unlike anything that has gone before or that any of us can imagine. The pace of social change and progress continues to be both dazzling and dizzying. Educating children today requires great leaps of faith, since more than at any time in human history the future that our children will inherit is very difficult to foresee. How does one raise and educate children in such times, and prepare them for such an uncharted future?
My own belief is that despite the current uncertainties and all the remarkable technological advances, the fundamentals of life are, and will remain, the same. The great challenges and issues that all people face are likely to be fundamentally unaffected by progress, no matter how impressive. Life is and will remain complex. Humans are still conceived and born in the same old way, and we still live lives marked with both great joys and celebration, as well as the potential for terrible suffering and the inevitability of death. So far no one has transcended the fundamentals, and it is unlikely any one will in the future.
It seems that now more than ever children need support to develop an appreciation for simplicity and quiet. As parents and educators we need to provide children some antidote to a culture that is increasingly fast-paced and complex. Children today are exposed to an unceasing intensity of stimulation undreamed of just a generation ago. It has become nearly impossible to create and inhabit quiet spaces, un-invaded by an increasingly materialistic popular culture and its rat-a-tat-tat bombardment of visual and auditory stimulation. Now more than ever children need encouragement to familiarize themselves with the quiet and peaceful landscape of their own inner world. Such familiarity is essential if they are to have any possibility of finding true peace and contentment -- a happiness not available in one more material acquisition, one more video game, or one more excursion to a theme park.
To be richly educated and fully prepared for whatever the future holds requires familiarity with simplicity and instruction on how to develop a quiet and uncluttered mind. Perhaps the most effective method for exposing children to the possibilities and contentment available to a mind at peace is when it's modeled by adults. And so in this new year 2010 may each of us commit to the discovery of quiet times and the joy of simple pleasures.
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