Should children aged 10 to 14 be introduced to the current affairs? Are they ready to be exposed to the grimmer side of the world? Are we parents prepared to have our pre-teens moulded in their thought process?
That’s food for thought…
Like medicine, I think we should introduce our children to what is happening around the world in doses appropriate to their age group. 10 to 14 years old seem to be a pretty decent window to do that. At this age, they have the capacity to understand the world and the capacity to be compassionate. They are also at the age where they begin to experiment and assert their own opinions and thoughts, and it is a rich ground for seeding and grooming.
At a recent parent-teacher meeting, a subject-level teacher shared that we should watch more “newsy” programs to support their language learning. So this week, we began a “mandatory TV watching with mom” in the evening between 630pm and 730pm to catch the Mandarin version of Lion City Today (chn 8).
One programme spoke of CPF for the aged while another featured the rising numbers of drug users among upper secondary students. I had to pause and explain some parts of the program but it was encouraging that the kids were not upset that I hijacked their TV time. It was even gratifying to see them asking questions about some of the issues.
So, back to our initial questions: Should children aged 10 to 14 be introduced to the current affairs? I think they should especially when they are at an age that is still open to listening to us parents and we have the opportunity to gently inject our values and beliefs before they shut that window temporarily in their teenage / young adulthood.
Are they ready to be exposed to the grimmer side of the world? Are any of us ready for the grim world? The world is complicated. We are not doing our kids any favour by insulating them from issues we disapprove of (like drugs, LGBT, terrorism, religion just to name a few). I think that when we expose our kids to current affairs and sometimes the grimmer side of world, we should take into account WHAT we expose them to and HOW we execute our explanations to them. I will like to think that as young adults, my kids are able to form their own opinions and make wise decisions because I did my job as a parent to equip them with the skills to be thinking individuals.
Are parents prepared to let their pre-teens “think” for themselves? Now this is a million dollar question. Yes, of course many parents will be happy to groom thinking individuals. The question is are we ready to accept the outcome of their thought process that will only reveal itself in years to come? And when we groom their thought process, will it be through a wide open lens or a narrow one?
Join The Current
In a timely fashion, I received an invitation to Join The Current, an educational literacy campaign launched by four Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students as part of a news literacy campaign to engage children aged 10 to 14 to develop an interest in current affairs.
The four 22-year-old undergraduates are Ms Miranda Yeo, Ms Lynette Teo, Ms Natalie Huam and Ms Fiona Tan. This campaign is part of their final year project at NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and information, and is the first campaign of its kind to champion current affairs for teens. Their aim is to create a national conversation amongst parents that a curiosity for current affairs is important.
The four students conducted a survey of 300 upper primary and lower secondary students and their parents. Respondents were asked about their perceptions of their own news consumption habits, the importance of knowledge in current affairs and their sources of news information. Here are their findings:
80 per cent of the teens cited a lack of interest as the most common reason for not keeping up with the news.
20 Ways To Get Our Kids Thinking
While parents are keen to introduce current affairs to their kids, most said they did not know how to or had no time. If you are one of them, here are 20 ways to help them.
Not enough to convince you? How about from an academic point of view? According to MOE’s official website, civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills are among the core competencies that the Ministry hopes parents and schools can help students develop.
Friends with kids in secondary schools shared with me that English at this level meant more essay writings and questions that prompt for their opinions and thoughts on the articles or stories they have read. Secondary school students have to answer questions like “Give two reasons…”, “What is the main message?” or “Why do you think?…”
Check out this video on The Curiosity Box Experiment posted by Join The Current. The video aims to encourage parents to keep their children’s curiosity burning bright and to fuel it by encouraging their children to read widely and reflect on the changes in their world.
Mr Tong Yee, Director of education centre School of Thought shares his perspective on how these conversations develop our children’s identity and give them perspective.
“The more our children read, respond, and wrangle with complex issues, the more compelled they are to listen in to their own voice. The voice is a very powerful commodity. Current affairs give children more understanding of why things happen the way they do, why they respond the way they do, and what they need to do to solve these problems.”
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For more information on Join The Current, head to their website.
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.