Letter to the editor: Let’s groom kids for greatness

An article crossed my news feed today reporting on the latest divisive political buzzword — “grooming.” Probably more accurate terms would be “indoctrinating” or “initiating.” What struck me was that this was being presented as if it were a bad thing.

As a child I received a very thorough and traditional education in the Lutheran Church. I was taught to be a good Christian long before I had the intellect or maturity to have any judgment over what that really meant. Some of my friends attended Hebrew School and were learning to be good Jews, still others good Catholics.

Growing up during segregation, I’m sure some children were being taught to be racial bigots. I was also taught to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, even though I had no idea why it was “… ‘invisible’ with liberty and justice for all.” At least when I took the military oath to “Support and defend the Constitution” I had some idea what I was getting into.

The point is that we are all products of our culture. Most of us remain in the religious, political and social “tribes” of our youth because that is who we became and it is a struggle to outgrow or discard that early indoctrination. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Is it wrong to provide children with religious, civic or moral training, even when they are too young to fully grasp their meaning?

As a career educator, much of my professional life has been spent helping students to grow into academically competent, socially responsible, morally upright adults as defined by our culture. This is what education is about and it would be irresponsible to do otherwise. We should be “grooming” children to be thoughtful, moral, responsible adults. The issue is how best to provide a balance and breadth of experiences and ideas, along with the critical thinking skills necessary to make judgments for themselves, to function in a complex and often confusing world.

Richard Isenberg


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