Child’s Talk

I had a conversation with a child recently. It started during a group conversation about favourite foods.
One of the children said: my family are becoming vegans actually.
And I said: awesome
(Because when talking to children it’s important to take an interest and to be enthusiastic about what they are sharing.)
Then I said: that means you won’t eat certain foods doesn’t it?
(Because when talking to children it’s important to be curious. To understand what that child understands.)
And the child said: yes, I won’t eat chicken or bacon
So I said: will you eat eggs or drink milk?
He shook his head. Then he said: did you know…
(Because children will continue a conversation once you have shown interest until they run out of things to say… Sometimes they will repeat the things they want to say because they just want to keep that conversation going. Sometimes you wonder if they are talking to you because you’re the first adult in a long time who has shown some sort of interest in what they are saying.)
He said: did you know that the eggs you get at a supermarket… You can hatch them into a chick.
And I said: no you can’t
(Because you can’t and it annoys me that people think they can. It also worries me that people base life choices on incorrect information.)
He said: yes you can. If you get a supermarket egg and crack it and put it in a warm place then it will become a chick.
I said: no you can’t
(Because that’s just not how eggs work.)
I said: if you get the right sort of eggs and keep it warm it might hatch but you don’t crack it and the eggs you get at the supermarket aren’t the right sort
And he said: that’s how you do it. Crack it and it will hatch. I’ve done it.
So why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because when you’re working with children they already know. Whatever it is, they already know and don’t need you to tell them. In fact they will need to teach you because you are old and don’t know anything.
I could have argued with that child for ages and never changed his mind. I would have needed to take him to meet some chickens. I would have needed to get some eggs and hatched them or watch them not hatch. Through experiment and experience that child would have learnt more about eggs than he could have wanted to know.
Maybe with diagrams and explanations about chicken reproduction (that I doubt his parents would have been happy about) I may have been able to explain why cracking supermarket eggs would not lead to the production of a chick.
Maybe a pokemon walk would have helped him to understand that pokemon stay in the egg until you walk them long enough for them to hatch and that’s the same with chickens….apart from the walking bit.
But this isn’t really about eggs. Google is your friend if you want to learn about eggs. Because learning, changing your mind about things, is about your experiences. If you have experience of one thing, if you have always believed something and it’s never failed you, why would someone else coming along telling you something different change your mind?


Call me

 The ability to see colours is socially defined. As children we are taught that the grass is green, that leaves are green, that frogs are green and so we learn that whatever colour we see grass, leaves and frogs is green. It is very likely that what I see when I see green is not the same as what others see when they see green.
When children draw pictures they will use the same colour for trees and grass and frogs because all of them are the same colour. All of them are the single colour green. However, that will not be true for all children in all cultures. Some children will be taught different words for different greens and they will know there is a green of a ripe apple and the green of an unripe banana. They won’t necessarily be the same colour.
The understanding of colour has changed. Blue is said to be the newest colour and an article I read this week suggested that before the word for blue was invented people probably didn’t see it. In Homer’s Odyssey, the sea is described as ‘Wine -dark’. And wine has never been described as blue. It is likely that blue and stormy waters reminded the author was red wine because it was dark. The article I read this week described an experiment where people from a tribe with no word for blue were showed squares of green and one square of blue and asked to pick out the different one – which they found difficult or impossible to do. However, when the blue was replaced with a slightly different shade of green they were able to pick it out whereas people from a western culture were more less likely to be able to differentiate between them.
There is a thought study about a child brought up in a black and white environment. What would she see when showed a rose? It is possible that she wouldn’t even understand the concept. Having no words for colours she may describe it as black, as dark in contrast to the white. There wouldn’t be any way of truly knowing what it was that she saw. Until someone told her it was red and then showed her other things that were red then she would have no idea that it was anything different.
People argue about colours often. I was recently involved in a discussion over the colour of someone’s bedroom walls. Was it cream? Yellow? Biscuit? Could it be described as all three? Six of us saw the same colour and six of us saw it differently.
If that is debate can be caused by something as simple as colour than how much more debate can there be over other things that we can call facts?
We may all see the same thing and we may all perceive it differently. Why? Is it all because of socialisation? Are the colour blind those who weren’t taught early enough to differentiate between colours? Is it genetic? Are there inherent differences which mean colours are seen differently or not seen as all?
What does that mean for faith? Are some people socialised to receive faith in someway? Are people genetically predisposed to be more accepting of faith? What about those people who grow up in a faith family but leave it when they are older? Wouldn’t they have the faith genetics and faith socialisation?
Do all within a faith see the faith in the same way? Do we all read the same texts and get the same meaning? When we say ‘amen’ are we all agreeing to the same thing?
Does faith mean conformity? Does divisions mean that God isn’t with one group? Is God big enough to cover fractions?