McNinch: Education and parenting


Before Athena could talk, she would toddle around the house with a book in her hands all the time. I asked my wife about this and she told me that our daughter was simply imitating me.

Athena saw me with a book all the time and this was normal for her. In elementary and middle school, Athena would sit in the back of my university classes every Saturday and quietly read or play on her game device. One day, a student told me that my daughter actually understood what I was talking about in class.

I didn’t believe this, but it was true. One day driving back from class, Athena asked me if my students got tired of me telling the same jokes all the time. I had to remind her that while the jokes were the same, the students were different. Children are watching us constantly and it is likely they learn a lot more from us than we think.

In 500 BC, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that we can never step into the same river twice. We change the river and the river changes us. As much as we may like things to stay the same, we are surrounded by changes.

Even though my class jokes were the same, the students were different, I was different and my daughter was different with each telling. We all have different views and as my daughter got older, she developed different views of the same information. As a young woman, I have found that my daughter sometimes uses the same kind of humor in her own conversations.

If you ask our daughter what she learned from her parents, her opinions of me and my wife are very different. Her mother taught her math, science and how to speak Chinese.

If you ask Athena what she learned from me, she will say that she learned to love karaoke, watching movies and good food.

In the last week, I have over 200 new students to work with and I am mindful that determinism is in all parts of life. A whole set of factors brought them to the moment they came to my classroom.

Everything that happens after learning new things will carry what they learned or gained from the experience. While we can never step into the same river twice, we can always expect that each day will be different.

In the early 1700s, the French political philosopher Montesquieu developed a lot of theories that were later incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. One overlooked idea he had was, “The Climatic Theory of Despotism.” He believed that colder places do not have dictators because people have to focus and plan to grow crops in narrow growing seasons.

On the other hand, places that are warm all the time can grow food freely. This abundance of food can lead people to bad behavior. To counter bad behavior, a strong dictator type of leader is needed.

We don’t have leadership in our legislature.