I have known parents who write their children's papers, do their projects, tell them how to think, and hover over their children's lives to make sure they never stumble. When these kids trip, they don't know how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on. They do not know how to make choices, learn from mistakes, or handle conflict on their own. The delicate balance of leading children and allowing them to walk forward alone - they must have the opportunity to navigate through life's twists and turns. We can't let them go too far off where they will get injured, but an occasional fall or branch in the face can be good for them!
I'm not saying we shouldn't guard our children against the evils of life, but I do believe we do well if we help them deal with the evils of life rather than remain naïve and then be smacked in the face with reality later. What's the magic age at which we discuss particular issues? I guess that's up to you. Usually, they will let you know through actions and speech when you're going to have to address things. Just don't wait until it's too late.
But this is not just about the facts of life. Bearden wrote that there is a delicate balance of leading children and allowing them to walk forward alone. It's that juggling act that teachers and parents perform. Our nature is to protect our brood, but we must also understand that feeling pain is one way we can be sure we're still alive.
(Why can't I get that picture of a dad spanking his son out of my head? "I'm doin' this because I love you!" he says.)
The same must be true of learning new things. When students come to the fourth grade, they seem to only want to do the things they already know. The bottom line is: that ain't learnin'! But they don't understand that. They only want to do the comfortable things. The easy things. They don't get that doing the hard things is what makes things easy. John Kennedy said it:
But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
"...because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills..."
Students, we do not come to school five days a week to practice what you learned in the second grade. How boring that would be! We come to school to learn new things. To challenge ourselves. To tackle the unexplainable. To wrestle with difficult concepts. To overcome obstacles. To make ourselves better for the benefit of others. So we press forward...and it is out of love that I will allow you to stumble.