19 August 2008

What do we teach our children

We had been to a park near our house. The sun had gone down and there were just a few kids still playing on the tarzan type swing. There are four such swings and the one next to the one where my daughter was playing was used by a group of children. A few guys came into the area and stood next to that swing. Immediately a small girl (hardly 7) looked at one guy and shouted 'Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi, go away!!' and started throwing sand at them. The other kids cheered on. I was shocked beyond speech. The Bangladeshi guys just smiled and stood there. I thought of going over and giving the kids a piece of my mind, when I noted that their parents were also standing near by and smiling. What has happened to us? Is this what we want our children to learn? Not even a single reprimand from the parents and no apology to the guys.

This reminded me of something that happened in my daughter's school. She was in her nursery and learning her ABCs. They were associating the letters to words and had been taught about B as in Brown Bear. My daughter doesn't normally tell us about her daily activities in school. We just gather stuff as she speaks. So, once when I was feeding her, she suddenly asked me, "Mummy, am I brown?". She is fair (in the Indian sense) and I thought she was asking based on the snow white story. So I told her that she was fair. Immediately she tells me, "Mummy, fair means white. Only foreigners and Chinese can be white. All Indians are brown." I was pretty shocked. Didn't expect this from a 3 year old. I asked her where she had got this info and she just told that it was from school. On checking with her teacher later, I came to know that it was the from the other children in her class. Who would teach such things to small children? Are we introducing racial discrimination at such tender ages?


Me said...

Though most parents don't teach these stuff, the kid picks it up from the conversations around them.

Kids are keen observers. I have seen several kids playing and having fun and suddenly they stop for few minutes and they just watch what the elders are talking about.

Seems like it is common everywhere.

Chakra said...

yes.. Kids are very quick in grasping things and they pick up bits in no time.

sat said...

Actually, kids pick up a lot of these ideas from parents when they make any such remarks, mostly when listening in on such conversations. It's one thing about being ethnically biased, exposing your child as well to such things is worse.
It's such carelessness in adults which pollutes the child's mind.
Me and a friend of mine were living as a paying guest in a house in Mysore. The family we lived with had a little girl (about 7 or 8). The child used to spend a lot of hours at our rooms, talking with us, playing with us. I did not mind as it kept us occupied. But with time it became a bit of a bother when she started breaking and wrecking a bit of a havoc with everyone of her visits. Once I caught her rubbing my lipstick on a paper and told her to give it back to me, she refused flatly and continued doing what she was doing. When I said that I'd tell her mother if she doesn't stop, I was shocked when she retorted with a 'You (after all) tamil girl, coming here and telling me all this...dont talk to me!!!' I was furious, but I knew it was hardly the girl's fault. Obviously it was a view her parents held over my ethnicity, and the girl must have overheard them at some point of time. When I confronted her parents, they looked embarassed and said that they would speak to their daughter. I gave a notice for vacating the premises shortly.
The one way to tackle this could be to shut up when you have a child around and let your 'ideas' rot within instead sowing hatred so early in their minds

PVS said...

Thanks for the link Me. Thought my daughter was an exception. Looks like its the norm :)

Yes Chakra, wondering what would spout from her mouth next.

Hi Sat, didn't know you had come to my house and seen how we speak when the kids are around. Thanks for your "valuable" advise.