Cli­mate re­al­ity clear to kids

Shepparton News - - VIEW POINT - Rm­[email protected] mc­me­ ROBERT MCLEAN

Many chil­dren live in some­thing of a news vac­uum.

Some will cheer and whoop in sup­port of that idea, oth­ers would be equally crit­i­cal of such par­ent­ing, re­flect­ing pretty much any po­si­tion taken in life about most any­thing.

Back­ers of the idea ar­gue that young and in­no­cent chil­dren should not have the graf­fiti of news scrib­bled on the blank slate that is their nascent minds.

Such a po­si­tion sadly fails to ac­knowl­edge the in­stinc­tive re­silient ca­pac­i­ties of the young and adds only what weight to any is­sue as to how it is framed by those older peo­ple around them.

The idea that in block­ing out the news of the day as a way to pro­tect chil­dren is re­ally lit­tle more than par­ents re­fus­ing to per­son­ally en­gage with the events of the day and so play a key role in help­ing their chil­dren un­der­stand what­ever is hap­pen­ing and put it in con­text.

Help­ing your chil­dren un­der­stand the news of the day, the news of the world, is among one of par­ent­ing’s prime tasks.

In­ex­pli­ca­bly, at least to me, the same par­ents who cre­ate that fac­tual news vac­uum in the name of pro­tect­ing their chil­dren, al­low those same chil­dren to em­brace the most per­verse fic­tions.

Writ­ing in his 2018 book, Fic­tions of Sus­tain­abil­ity: The Pol­i­tics of Growth and Post-Cap­i­tal­ist Fu­tures, Boris Frankel said: ‘‘Now, count­less chil­dren are raised on a diet of block­buster dis­as­ter movies, spec­u­la­tive dystopias and com­puter games fea­tur­ing the col­lapse of civil­i­sa­tion brought about by ter­ror­ists, aliens, en­vi­ron­men­tal catas­tro­phes, un­stop­pable pathogens and other mon­sters of the com­mer­cial imag­i­na­tion.’’

Ap­par­ently, for many chil­dren it is okay to have their be­hav­iours dis­torted by the prod­ucts of that ‘‘com­mer­cial imag­i­na­tion’’, but re­al­ity is a no-no.

For­tu­nately, our schools ad­here to the facts and even those who en­gage in pur­suit of fan­ci­ful dis­trac­tions do take their young stu­dents on ex­ploratory men­tal ex­pe­di­tions, al­low­ing them to bivouac in learn­ing places en­sur­ing the ex­pan­sion of their think­ing, help­ing them bet­ter un­der­stand the real world.

The arm wres­tle be­tween mar­ket-driven imag­i­nary mu­ta­tions and fact-driven re­al­i­ties favours the lat­ter as il­lus­trated re­cently when thou­sands of stu­dents from across Aus­tralia went on strike to protest our gov­ern­ments in­ac­tion on cli­mate change.

The stu­dents un­der­stand and ac­cept the ir­refutable re­al­i­ties of cli­mate change, il­lus­trat­ing that the thou­sands of strik­ing teenagers had not been locked in a news-free bub­ble, but were in fact much more aware of what is hap­pen­ing than our dis­mis­sive gov­ern­ment.

Last year, The Guardian news­pa­per re­ported: ‘‘The sci­ence is clear, the facts are in­con­tro­vert­ible, and it is un­con­scionable to us that our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren should have to bear the ter­ri­fy­ing brunt of an un­prece­dented dis­as­ter of our own mak­ing.’’

The news aware stu­dents sim­ply know and un­der­stand this re­al­ity and their schools should be con­grat­u­lated for en­cour­ag­ing such learn­ings and par­ents who en­sured and em­braced these re­al­i­ties also de­serve praise. ● Robert McLean is a for­mer News editor.

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