Kids need issues

Have you ever discussed ‘the issue with…’ with your kids. Pollution, screen time, vaping, gambling, consumerism, capitalism, racism, sexism, systems, models, policies, rules – when is a good time to have a discussion? Why do they need ‘more’ issues to wrestle with? Isn’t growing up hard enough? Why are ‘whys’ so powerful?

Why are issues so important at home? We can foster discussion and promote interest at home… we can let an issue in carefully talk about it. We can open up opportunities for questions as they naturally occur. We encourage whys around here. Why aren’t whys more prevalent? Why aren’t whys universally encouraged?

Why do kids need issues? To ask more whys.

Why is the book banned? Why should we do x? Why are we upset about y? Why is this ‘good’? Why are there inverted commas on that word? Why are inverted commas necessary? Why is an issue an issue?

Being exposed to healthy debate at home helps kids to form and adjust their own lenses on the world. Why would we not want them to do this? Adjusting, zooming in, clarifying and keeping up the “why, why, why” they are typically encouraged to unlearn at 3 years old are essential critical skills that they need safe opportunities to practice.

Why do the why-why-whys stop? Because it’s annoying for adults? Because we want to tell them definitives? Because we want to retain control? Why?

What if we ALL asked more whys? Why is creative NZ dropping Shakespeare finding? Why is Von Tempsky street problematic? Why is a historic walk locally only written from a pākeha perspective? Why does it need to be rewritten? Why is vaping bad for kids? Why is it important to recycle? Why are plant based diets better for the planet? Why does it matter if we don’t mend things? Why should we check ethical ratings? Why do we need ethical ratings? Why should we be kind? Why should we learn about where electric car batteries are made? Why is mining unsustainable? Why do we need to fix things instead of buying new things? Why should we support local businesses? Why do we have to move our bodies more? Why should we reduce screen time? Why should we be more active than passive in our use of media? Wht should we read everyday? Why are girl’s clothes pink? Why? Big issues, small issues – and all of them – why? And again – why not whying?

Asking why helps to find a place in the world that has more defined edges. Knowing where the edges are means you can see where they need to be redrawn. Having a voice backed by (unbiased) data is gold. Being able to shift or pivot when new data comes to light is useful forever. Modeling the ‘squid model’ of why-why-why inquiry promotes genuine critical thinking. It fosters engagement and connection, it gives agency, it champions curiosity and is a vital ingredient for finding fresh perspectives.

How can we change the status quo? Asking why more. How can we raise kids who are engaged with issues? Asking why more. How can we be more informed citizens of the world? Asking why more. How can we redesign something? Asking. Why. More.

We need to be engaging with issues so that kids can feel like they are empowered to form their own fresh perspectives. Kids need more issues and more opportunities to ask about them. A world without whys is a world that just is because it is. Because I said so. Because that’s the way it always has been. Because we unlearned why-ing. Because we were annoying to our parents. Because we accepted that we had to follow the recipe exactly how it was written. Because that is the way it is written. Full stop.

The key to coming up with new solutions is first understanding why. If we don’t want kids to have issues they care about, who want to change things, who challenge the status quo- we have to ask ourselves why. And why again.

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