As the 2008 Summer Olympics approach, the news stories remind me of something I've been thinking about for quite a while. I've seen lots of great reports over the last 5-10 years about how much the US has improved the air quality and environment in most big cities. If you just read the articles, you might think, "wow, finally our country is doing something good!" (Not so fast...)
In the very same newspaper or the very same news program, you might also learn about the number of businesses that have moved overseas. You might hear the grumbles and gripes about losing manufacturing plants to places like China, that can produce the same products for far less.
Are you putting two and two together yet?
Has anyone but me noticed what's happened? We didn't so much improve air pollution: we shipped it to China! I guess that's a benefit to sending our business to China. And now they will have our money to help fight the cancer increases they have suffered due to their increased manufacturing with the lowest environmental standards (if any).
I'm writing about this here because most of the American public has been duped. And I hope that I am raising children who will not be so easily duped by news articles into believing every word that is spoken or printed. I've already given my children the "little kids in China made that piece of junk toy so that you could play with it for five minutes and then throw it in the trash" speech. As they grow, I try to teach them critical thinking and problem solving. I don't want them growing up to believe that politicians are on their side, the news is real, or that they have to go to college to learn how to work for someone else. We live outside the box, think outside the box, and grow outside the box.
If you haven't seen the The Story of Stuff , go there NOW! Watch it daily. As I become a horrible consumer in the eyes of my country (shopping at garage sales, Goodwill, consignment sales, etc.) I wonder what would happen if our whole country became horrible consumers like me. Of course, it will never happen as long as there is money to spend. Some people will just never care. But I look at my kids and how their spending habits have developed. My seven year-old (who just sat down to watch The Story of Stuff with me) has decided that all he really wants is Legos. He has already learned that all those toys that look so fun on the shelf turn out to be- not so much fun. Like most kids, they are playing a lot of computer games or online learning games. Outside of the disc and packaging material, the main resource that goes into these products is intelligence. One day, I believe, we will not buy STUFF so much as we will buy the ability to DO STUFF.
For instance, I purchased Jump Start World at the store. It has an online component to it, where you can pay for your child to continue on with the game. A sneaky way of sucking kids (and parents!) in, but once I saw what my child was learning, it was worth the $75 I paid for the rest of the program! So now we have an educational game that my child has spent HOURS on, and not a big plastic toy that MIGHT get played with once and a while. I truly believe that this is the wave of the future. And I also believe that the children at the forefront of producing more advanced games or providing highly technical expertise will be homeschooled children like mine.
There are so many reasons why teaching kids to think critically should be at the top of our parenting list. Not only to decipher the news, but to make change, and become technologically advanced if that is your child's calling. Because mark my words, eventually China will wake up and want to send their pollution right back over and we will either welcome it back or decide we can go without McDonald toys and tell them, "no thanks!"
If you want to learn about the pollution problem in China, here is a great article:
I just got this link in a Yahoo group I am in and thought it was appropriate: