Teachers, just like all people, aren’t perfect, but I love it when they understand the importance of letting a child discover for themselves.
Recently, my daughter came home with George Orwell’s 1984 novel. I walked upstairs and saw her reading it at our kitchen island.
“Where did you get that?” I said. I had read the book years ago but don’t own a copy.
“Oh, I finished the other assigned book for my English class, so my teacher let me pick another one from her collection.”
“Did she say anything about this book?” Having read the book, I could see two school’s of thought on why she might be allowing my daughter to have it. And to be honest, one of those school’s of thought I wouldn’t be very happy about. I want my children to be taught to think for themselves, but I’ve seen far too many attempts at indoctrination happening to my kids.
“No. Why? Should I not be reading it?”
“Oh no, knowledge it power.” And I truly believe that. Every single one of us would be much better off if we turned off the TV and picked up a book far more often. “I was just wondering if she gave you any opinions on the premise.” If she had, it would be harder for my daughter to come up with her own opinions about the novel.
“No, she just told me to enjoy.”
I nodded my head and started to walk away.
“But you’ve never really acted this way when I’ve read other books,” she said. “What is it about this one?”
“Mmm…” I didn’t want to shade my daughter’s thinking with my own biases. “I’d rather hear what you think about the book, so come talk to me about it whenever you want.”
Less than a day later, my daughter comes home from school. “Holy cow, mom. The kids in this book are twisted.”
I laughed. “That’s one way to describe them. Why do you think that is?”
“Because they’re being told a different reality, and history has been wiped away so they think what they’re being told is the truth. It’s making them do terrible things to their parents…”
Back and forth we bantered about the subject matter of the book for almost another half hour. It was such fun conversation to have. The best part, I could see the wheels in my daughter’s head turning. She’s forming her own opinions about the world around her. It’s scary because she might end up with differing opinions than mine, but it’s probably the most important thing she’ll ever do–to think for herself. And George Orwell’s 1984 novel, in my opinion, is a good example of why learning to think for one’s self is so important.