We Teach Our Nonsense Well

Now we should pity our poor children

Once upon a time, I knew nonsense when I saw it. I had no doubts, ifs, nor buts.

Back then nonsense and sense were clearly divided in my mind, even as I understood that what made sense to me might be nonsense to you. And, of course, vice versa. But today we present all kinds of uncommon nonsense as common sense.

We should pity our poor children, for we have failed the basic test of adulthood. Instead of helping the next generation make sense of our world, we’re spin-doctoring what was once worldly into nonsense.

Don’t Waste a Nonsense Moment

A teaching moment or a “wasted” moment? (John Leech Sketch Archives 1841-1864)

Have you heard the one about the 6-year-old Cub Scout who was so proud of his scout eating utensil that he took it to use at school? He got 45 days in a disciplinary school, all because the practical tool included a little knife.

And then there’s the third grader who was expelled for a year because she brought her birthday cake to school. The problem? Her sensible grandmother had packed a knife to make it easier for the teacher. What did the teacher do? She first cut the cake and then called the principal.

Both were wasted nonsense moments.

You see, nonsense moments are opportunities for teaching and learning. Sadly for the little kids, the people in charge don’t understand that. That’s why they turned the teaching moments into punishment moments.

Nonsense is born when places of learning frown upon common sense. And we perpetuate nonsense when we don’t promote the opposite at work.

Teach Your Kids Shades of Gray

Your shades of gray don’t always make you the teacher. (John Leech Sketch Archives 1841-1864)

I wish to remind all parents to “teach your children well.” By well, I mean what matters. Teachers cannot do that; only you can.

Teachers are paid to teach those things with known right answers. Much of what you had to learn at school you knew had one right answer. The aim of the game as taught by your teacher was for you to memorize that one right answer.

Then you left school and discovered, to your surprise, that most of the things that happen and matter in the real world do not have only one right answer. Often one answer does produce really good results, but more often many answers produce totally acceptable outcomes.

And yet, imagine the public outcry if teachers dared to deviate from black and white to ambiguity. That’s why parents matter. To teach kids shades of gray.

Assuming Sense in the Presence of Nonsense Invites a Stab in the Back

Never turn your back on nonsense. (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

Some time ago a disturbing story appeared in the news. It included a photograph of a smiling couple posing in front of two rhinosaurs. I know the correct spelling is rhinoceros, but if you have been up close to one of these beasts, like I have, then you know that these things are left-overs from the dinosaur era with mood swings to match.

That’s the least the so-called ranger, who took the photo, should have told the happy couple, because when the camera went click, rhino went a-charging. The poor girl ended up barely alive after being punctured by the rhino’s horn.

Here’s my free advice. Never assume that the rules of your little world apply in other worlds. Choose your ranger with care. Never stand too close to something big without permission.

And never turn away from danger and other nonsense. That’s an invitation to get stabbed in the back.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.