Friday, October 14, 2011

You Should Believe Me Because I Said So

One thing that is really annoying to a teacher is when a student asks "why do I need to do this?" Whether or not you really have a good reason to back up said activity, it is simply frustrating to have to stop and explain why. You could waste 5-10 minutes explaining, "Because writing enhances language development, which in the long run, further develops communication ability, etc., etc." Or you can say, "Because I said so." Much easier! One Sunday my pastor explained during a sermon that he made a mistake in trying to answer his young son.  The son asked, "Dad, why is the sky blue?" And actually having the knowledge, he explained the scientific reasoning for exactly why the sky was blue.  Good, right? I thought so.  But he said even with a grand explanation, his son said, "But why blue?" He paused for a moment thinking his answer inadequate before his son continued on "Why not green or purple?" Ahh..confounded by a 3-year-old.

All of my ruminating on this is simply the fact that asking WHY can be a very good thing no matter how annoying it is.  Because, I think, to some extent our "whys" have been silenced.  Or we have been presented information in such a way that we simply accept it without even allowing the question of "why" to enter our minds.  I was reading an article on infant vaccinations that a friend of mine posted.  The article was discussing that parents are reluctant to vaccinate or that many are asking to delay the vaccinations or leave out some.  One of the professionals who addressed these concerns in the article was a doctor with apparently great knowledge on vaccinations who said there will be no different impact if you delay the vaccinations or decide a different schedule.  So should we just believe him because he is a doctor who apparently knows? I wanted to sit down with him so much and have him explain this reasoning to me.  Personally, how can you make a statement with such certainty? If my child can't have anything except milk or formula until a certain age, why would it be ANY different with vaccinations? Why wouldn't a more mature system not be able to handle them any better? And how can you say with such decidedness that have 5 instead of 1 makes no difference? Surely, it does. And I wanted to tell this doctor that this is why parents are so hesitant because our professionals are telling us things that make no sense when we try to reason them out practically.

My husband and I love to have a laugh when we frequently see commercials related to something medical with somebody in a white coat recommending it.  Or, sometimes, the commercial just shows somebody in a white coat.  It's funny, but at the same time, I'm sure that market research has shown that people see a white lab coat and automatically associate it with good; therefore, the lab coat in and of itself is enough persuasion.

And I was further thinking on things that I just accept without even questioning.  Somebody somewhere says something is good because they have "years of experience" and I just take it.  I clearly don't have years of experience so I must not be as knowledgable.  It's this half-eaten apple type of thing.  I'm sure many people have seen it illustrated where you are shown the good side of the apple having no clue the other side has been eaten and your mind just assumes the whole thing is good.
I will say with some degree of certainty that NONE of us is capable of getting past this.  We are all susceptible to it...just accepting something because somebody "trustworthy" said so.  And, even if it is annoying to hear it from students, it isn't such a bad thing to ask for an explanation.  It isn't so bad to want knowledge and understand the reasoning behind things.  

Granted, I may be rethinking this when my son turns 2... ;)

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