Menu

Improving Buddhism

Is it Possible?

Parenting in Improved Buddhism

If the overarching goal of a new religion, such as Improved Buddhism, is the preservation of the religion through generations, then the most important goal for those working to preserve the religion is the education of parents for the task of training their children. Since it is the most important area of education that a person can receive, it should start at an early age and proceed continuously even during the time when parenting is taking place.

 

Parents are not the only individuals who train children, although they are the dominant influence at the earliest ages. Other individuals in the household might have a role in the training process, such as grandparents. These individuals also need to be properly trained to do their roles as well. Their training is a branch of the training given to parents, except for professional educators whose role starts with formal education.

 

The need for training in parenting is highly under-appreciated, and is almost completely neglected in modern life. How this came about might be discussed at length, but one factor is that while the effect on children's lives that parenting has is widely appreciated and noticed, the idea that parents can be educated, and each generation improved on the last has not been. There is, in general, little appreciation of the progress of society from generation to generation, and rather the focus of most individuals is on their current lives. No one can go back and rerun the training that their parents have given them, so there is the feeling that this is just some part of a person's circumstances or environment, as opposed to something that is modifiable and improvable over decades and longer periods of time. Such short-run thinking undermines the ability of any group to improve itself gradually and should be avoided.

 

The material used to train children has two purposes, or rather sets of purposes. One might be called recursive, and involves that training which is directed toward keeping the child, over his adult life, involved in the religion and especially in training his own children to do the same. The other is everything else, and might be described as setting the basic rules for living. The latter are not a modern equivalent of Asoka's rules which were stringent rules on things that should or should not be done. They are a much, much broader set of rules or guidelines which cover most aspects of a person's character and how they interact with other people. In this viewpoint, a religion is like a design for a society, in which members of the religion interact with each other and with non-members.

 

The actual training material, consisting of guidelines for parents on what to train their children on, at what time, and how to do it, must have feedback consciousness in it. In other words, children are very strongly individualistic, and perhaps more so than adults, as adults have learned some rules of society, which tends to channel their behavior in recognizable directions. Children are not yet programmed as rigorously, although programming of child behavior does happen in most training situations. Parents need to learn how to recognize if a child is able to learn something, and what difficulties are present. They do this by being attuned to the signs a child gives off, which are usually more blatant that those of an adult, but much less verbal.

 

The parents also need to understand the prioritization of training, so if the amount that can be done is limited, what is the most important portion. Training by parents is limited in both directions, by the available time of the parents and the limits on the ability of the child to learn. Parents whose lives are close to sustenance, in other words, those whose time is largely consumed by the need to support the living standards of the family, do not have much time for individual training. Of course, an older generation member would be highly useful in this situation. The other side of this is that some children, for some periods, are unable to devote unlimited blocks of time to being trained, and grow frustrated by it. They exhibit this by various behaviors, but the point is that their brains have a limit on the rate of learning, and until they progress past this limitation, prioritization of training will have to be done.

 

Children come into the world with brains designed to seek training and to accept it. Their immediate goal is to understand themselves, starting with the basics of how to move and sense and interact, and to understand the world, meaning how do things in the world behave and what can be done with them. The internal learning, involving how to move and touch and so on are largely carried on within the cerebrum and cerebellum of the child, and can only slightly be assisted by parents at the earliest ages, except for safety considerations.

 

Children learn through neural feedback loops within their brains, which teach them to use their muscles in a coordinated way to accomplish actions which are desired, and how to use their senses to inform them about their immediate environment. The child's brain is strongly reacting to this self-training, and neurons are growing and dying in huge numbers during the first few years of a child's life, which must be the fastest way a brain like a human’s can learn to absorb information and to structure itself to accomplish things. Children learn from examples, such as by seeing the parents walk, but there are differing degrees to this information absorption. The child's time might be more watching and observing, followed by experimentation, or the experimentation might be done with only minimal observation. If the parents interact with the child a great deal, the former might happen, and if the child has a great deal of alone time, the latter. Which way is best is debatable at this point, as there is so little knowledge about the training of children available. Any religion should be very careful about promulgating one way over the other, as the consequences might be quite extensive, quite diverse, and quite delayed in their effects. Data is needed desperately for this branch of science, the training of very young children.

 

First off, the religion should stress the importance of parents devoting time and attention to their task of training their children. Second only to the goal of having the right children, training is of paramount importance both to the preservation of the religion and the raising of children able to be successful in their lives. Failure is to be expected, but not to be readily accepted.

 

Providing the right environment for a child to self-train is an important aspect of parental activity. The idea should definitely not be to make the child live in a sensory overload situation, and in fact, the opposite might be superior. For example, what does it benefit an adult to have a highly developed sense of color, of taste, of sound, of material properties, based solely upon their own ability to observe and physically interact? There should not be a basic tenet that all capabilities are good capabilities, or to be expanded up, but instead a higher-order question needs to be asked, and that is, what is the utility of improving a child's ability to perform accurate or diverse sensing? There are certain professions which can take advantage of it, but the large majority cannot. A child's brain is finite, and the various lobes and crevasses can be used for different things. Taking a large part for sensory measurement means that less is available for other tasks and other types of mental ability, for example logical thinking or creativity. Creativity is not only something present in an artist or writer, but is useful for most adults in their lives, and in many ways. Artistic creativity might involve the ability to carefully sense the environment, but this type of creativity is rare and giving a child a part of artistic capability, the part which demands a large portion of the brain be grown to use it, might be a completely wrong decision.

 

The same thing goes for athletic prowess. While it is a nice thing for parents to say that their child excels at some sports or other physical talent, they might be not appreciating the costs in development of more general and more useful skills that had to be foregone to stress physical activity. There are some specialized roles in society for people with this prowess, but these roles are few and most adults do not benefit from them. In short, the religion's educational materials about the training of small children should stress the consequences of stressing either kinesthetic sensing and physical activity or specific sensory ability, and how these consequences might be more detrimental that advantageous to the adult's ability to function in the world, to contribute to it, to help regulate it, and to improve each successive generation's abilities. Perhaps having a wide range of capabilities, none developed to the extreme, is the best a typical parent can give to his children.

Go Back

Comment

Blog Search

Comments

There are currently no blog comments.