Monday, March 06, 2006

Tabulae Rasae (TR) Thibault

The seventeenth-century political philosopher John Locke said that human beings are born as tabulae rasae - blank slates. It's the reason why I find the prospect of raising a child alternately terrifying and exhilarating.

Terrifying are the responsiblities involved in educating this person-in-progress, and the unwillingness to cause irreparable damage to a blank state. Yet at the same time, the idea that the world is being reinvented every day through our newborn's eyes is truly exhilarating. There's a danger that the overwhelming parental pride and ego will exaggerate the uniqueness of the experience, yet the world is indeed reborn each day when a new person discovers it.

Stanley Baldwin is usually credited with saying that "Power without responsibility -- the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages", but what he didn't mention is the flipside that responsiblity without power is the bugbear of the parent throughout the ages.

Paradoxically, there is so much and yet so little we can control over the development of our children. No amount of neo-natal Mozart music will make TR Thibault a classical pianist if he or she is actually tone-deaf. But perhaps lack of exposure to say, painting or literature would delay development or at least appreciation of fine arts?

There's a twist to this too - How do you know what your kid is really going to want anyway?

My parents gave me the chance to learn the piano, but I was much more keen on horse-riding. It doesn't bug me today that I cannot remember anything of those hundreds of hours of music lessons, but it annoys me like heck that Fabien is always going to have better horsemanship than me because he was cantering around when I was still learning to play scales. The knowledge that very little I can do in my adult life can ever change that lack of early childhood learning, is something that I want to remember when we raise our own kid. The million dollar question (as always) is HOW?

I think part of the key must lie in a general willingness to experiment, and therefore being open to failing and making mistakes. I guess my parents were not keen to let me take equestrian sports seriously because you can't break your ankle by falling off a piano stool. But even if I did - I doubt it would have changed anything..

*mood- reflective*


your papa said...

Your parents not only gave you the opportunity to learn the piano, but the chance to learn to swim with the correct strokes, hear the rythm of poems taught by a certain Ms Cha-ko-pi, hit the soft tennis ball into the net every Saturday, and ran with you along the East coast track as you learnt to cycle.

As you grow older, you start to learn those things that you never learnt as a child, like snow boarding for Shaun and horse riding in your case....

Just be grateful for the early training, they build character and dexterity that made you whom you are today!

And now as parents, its your turn to provide the best opportunities for your child to learn as broad a scope as possible... and I would like to see how you plan to do that!

what is Murphy learning first?...well, shall we start with snowboarding....

S* said...

Hello Pa,

Fabien is supposed to teach our little TR both snowboarding and horse-riding (as you can guess, we've decided that he's the more coordinated one).

I am supposed to teach him or her Chinese!! But I suppose my mother can help with that right? Can we leave our kid with you for a few weeks a year whilst we run away and go horse-riding?!!


Nisha said...

Hey you know what? At 28 years of age, I still carry a few blank slates around! Always did acting and drama until I had to produce (for once, I didn't act) a video clip for work and discovered I like that SO much better. I am not Quentin Tarantino (not yet) but I am enjoying every step of the way there!!

I'll be the 3rd person on this discussion thread to say this : Exposure is extremely important so as a parent, you have to facilitate. I'll say more a) after I have a kid and b) after the kid turns 21!