What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Oscar Wilde is deemed to have quoted in The Decay of Lying: “Who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.”

Which is why I think in the last couple of weeks here in Malaysia, we learned more about ourselves, others, events, thinking patterns, belief systems and goings on around us than we would be normally accustomed to. We probably know now who NOT to listen to, and we heard from moderate, fair-minded voices too. We also were privy to double-speak and flip-flops coming from leaders at the very highest of public office. In the midst, we too would have vented our thoughts and feelings based on our own perceptions and understanding.
If I were to compare the whole of life as one big lesson, then I could also say that we are all teachers and learners – at the same time. Every time we speak, we are teaching. And every time we teach, someone is listening. Like my 8 year old son who asked what the fuss was all about regarding the “Allah” word.
A friend whose son is in a sekolah bestari in KL said that one of the teachers there complained to him that more and more kids seem to be using derogatory words at other children of another race or ethnic group. Can it be just coming from the kids? Or, as I suspect, the adults are failing them?
My son’s bas sekolah man shared another story. He’s a 36 year old Malay who put his two sons in a local Chinese school. I asked him why. He said… “so that they will study…if I leave them here (the local sekolah kebangsaan), they won’t… there’re too many of their own kind here…”
Ironically, I am quite happy with the sekolah kebangsaan! The teachers seem dedicated, they don’t go MIA from classes, they are strict when needed, my son seems to enjoy studying there and he’s got a good crowd of friends.
What then do we teach our children?
Dorothy Law Nolte wrote the following poem – “Children Learn What They Live”.
Looking at the long and winding road Malaysia is heading on, I think we could all, as adults, take heed and emulate these classic values in our lives and teach our children the same:
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
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