Intellectual Immersion of Children
By Omar Alansari-Kreger
The truth is that people want to be heard without listening to each other.
What is the best way to arouse permanent intellectual curiosities? There is no simple remedy. Ideas that support concepts are embraced through an individually driven learning style. We can practically assume that people learn on their own terms, but how do we provoke that great intellectual awakening? It ultimately begins in childhood. Our earliest memories are indeed the most impressionable to us. Children surrounded with books, globes, and maps of the world have a greater chance of early intellectual immersion. A world of total convenience has turned us into creatures of vanity. When something is easy and accessible, there is this underlying reticence to absorb its knowledge.
This should prompt a series of existential questions that could prosecute the issue of intellectuality in the United States. How many households across the nation do not truly possess books of educational value? How many adults take time to read to their children? What has become of the formality of language at home? A world of instantaneous gratification was made possible through ever-changing and ever-expanding technologies. Past futurists predicted that man would no longer suffer from the traditional intellectual deficits of history. It was presumed that people would have no excuse to be ignorant anymore. What assessments would somebody like H.G. Wells make about our condition today? Would our current state of affairs turn him into an optimist or a pessimist?
All too often we mistakenly assume that advances made in technology overlap with our state of intellectuality. The truth is that people want to be heard without listening to each other. The loudest and dumbest take precedence when society retreats into the pseudo-intellectual fringes. Rest assured, hope is not lost, far from it. What if schools developed programs of continuous education by targeting children at home? Teachers could make it mandatory where students would be required to display a globe or map of the world in their rooms in some noticeable area. Homework could be assigned on defining key parts of the world using a world map or globe at home. It should not stop there. Depending on the age group, field trips could be made to university libraries dedicated to discovering ideas that transcend time.
A scavenger hunt for books written one hundred years ago charged with the task of comparing and contrasting ideas from then and now could establish an intimate connection with history. If things do not feel alive, they seem surreal which creates a void of disconnection. Youths feel things from the past have little to no relevance to their lives which leaves few reasons to care. It all begins within a psychological construct. We overwhelmingly view our tablets and smartphones as boredom killing devices. Rather, both should be received as portable encyclopedias driven by the continuity of learning. There is no finality to knowledge and that is a lesson that has and will always be. We cannot afford to allow machines to do our thinking without risking intellectual extinction.
Knowledge without direction is like writing without ideas. People are generally predisposed to different interests and behaviors which contributes to the great diversity of the human family. No matter who, where, or what we are, learning is part of the human experience. It will make or break us for better or worse. The quality of an education is defined by its directional imperative which begins in childhood. If we fail or neglect to stimulate the intellectual curiosities of children, we risk intellectual extinction through conveniences of ease and instantaneity. Education may start in the classroom, but it should never be its final resting place. When ideas are bridged with tangible knowledge, new horizons are built which can show children a world that could and ought to be.
Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer, and a social activist.
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