When we talk about understanding and thinking for yourself, which sounds to easy, I am amazed at how many people think they’re thinking for themselves and understanding when something else is happening. For myself, there have been times when I thought I was thinking for myself, but something else was at work (Sometimes, it was an opinion that I had convinced myself of years earlier but never really examined.), and thankfully, something inside was telling me different. Something was nudging me. So I couldn’t completely “buy into” the ideas, though I had thought, by knowing something, I was more secure.
I have read this: to question everything. Find out why you believe what you believe. The idea here was, when you really understand, have those “ah haaa” moments, in those moments, you really understand. But there is real joy in this: to understand and really “see.”
I think the difficulty for most is we grow up with a set of ideas, then ourselves we identify with those ideas. We find security in those ideas. With time, by surrounding ourselves with people of like minds, we become more and more secure in what we think we know. So when others challenge us, we feel like it’s ourselves that is under attack. All too many people are like this. They say things, give opinions, but they themselves have not really “thought” about what it is they believe. They may have experiences from which they garnered their opinions, and they adjust depending upon how things happen in their lives.
Some people are very secure in themselves for they are absolutely certain of their ideas and beliefs, then comes along someone who questions or shatters their beliefs and they feel their entire world is being questioned or challenged (Some people don’t wish to question, for then they’ll have difficulties with people of their own homes or among friends.). I’m not suggesting we allow ourselves to believe others who question our ideas. Far be it. But that, in order to understand, to hear and listen. In listening, we come to “see” whether the other person has anything of real value or is talking from intellect or opinions only. As I told someone, there’s nothing wrong with “Wait. I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”
As a teacher, I’m careful with this. What I’m encouraging the students is to learn the curriculum, learn their basics to mastery, and learn the skills I am teaching (i.e. writing, grammar, reading and the questions, mathematics, and more), learn the projects were making, but with time, to both understand what they think and learn to think for themselves. But I don’t get too far into this. It’s just getting them to reason for themselves. So, you believe we should learn kick ball rather than soft ball. Why? More of the class likes that? Okay. So you believe you shouldn’t have to do chores after school. Why? Because you don’t have enough time for your friends? But what about responsibility to your family? So you don’t think you should do homework? Why? And what about preparing yourself for the rigors of the real world? When you get a job or attempt to get a career, who will they hire? One who doesn’t want extra work and is prepared, or one who will go the extra mile and be very good at what they do? And with older kids or teens, the essays can be more developed.
*One more thing to encourage the point. In one family, at Thanksgiving, the mother always made ham, but cut the ends were always cut off, the dad’s favorite part. Well, one day, a friend asked the father, why are the ends of the ham always cut off. Hmmm…. the dad thought. He never dared question before. So, liking the idea of keeping the ends, for it was his favorite part, they decided to ask the mother. “Dear, why do we always cut the ends off the ham?” “Hmmmm… ,” the mother considered. “I’ve always done it that way. My mother had always done it that way. I guess it’s a tradition. Let’s ask my mother.”
So, they went to the grandmother and asker her. “Well,” she replied. “The pot was too small.”