5 World-Changing Truths: Listen to Kids

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This week, Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes world-traveler, communicator and educator Gayle Campbell to share five world-changing truths she learned during a year teaching in rural Honduras. Here is Gayle’s second column …

Yesterday on OurValues.org, we discussed the simplicity of life present in third-world countries, and whether or not the lack of conveniences necessarily leads to unhappiness. Overall, most readers seemed to agree that living simply can mean living happily, often more so than living in excess.

Today, we’re discussing the societal value of some of our “simplest” people—children.

But are they simple-minded?

Of course not. In a 2007 Pulitzer-winning article in the Washington Post—Pearls Before Breakfast—Joshua Bell, a world-renowned violinist, was hired by The Post to dress up as a bum and play down in a D.C. metro stop for an hour one summer morning. It was set up as a social experiment to see who, if anyone, would be able to recognize Bell’s incredible talent and music outside of a fancy concert hall. Hardly anyone stopped—a total of 7 in the entire hour he played. The only demographic that consistently stopped every time? Children. And as their parents dragged them away from that “homeless man trying to get an extra buck,” the kids continued to stare in awe at Bell, obviously in tune with his gift.

Kids get it.

To the disbelief of many adults, they often are more in tune to what is happening in the world than many adults. I spent the past year teaching 5th grade in rural Honduras (see the photo above). All year long, I was amazed at how perceptive my students are. These kids ask challenging questions about faith, relationships, race, different countries, and more—sometimes things that I couldn’t answer. They deal with family sickness and death with heads held high. When we had a school lunch fundraiser, and all but one student in my class could afford to pay for the $2 lunch, the students came together and offered to pay her share.

Kids are smart.

It would be against our best interest in the world today to refute this truth. If we want to continue to engage them and fuel their creativity energy, to equip them to become the influential and engaged citizens we hope they’ll one day be, we need to start investing in them now. Today in the U.S., we’re in the middle of a debate about how to care for our rapidly aging population. But in the rest of the world, the number of children is soaring. To ignore this is dangerous, but to engage young people now in meaningful ways is an investment worth making.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the value of those who believe and invest more than anyone in young people. Know who I’m talking about? Don’t miss tomorrow.

Are you aware of the dramatic imbalance of age ranges worldwide?

How will a world dominated by kids and young adults look in coming years?

Have you had an experience of being surprised by kids?

Add your Comment below.

Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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