We recently took a family vacation to Wisconsin to see my father's side of the family. While there I over heard my father telling someone that everything we do is in some way educational. While I do not think EVERYTHING we do is educational I do tend to make sure the kids are challenged and shown new things even when on vacation.
One of the things I attempt to share with my children is an in depth look at things that can be seen as controversial. It is all well and good to tell someone "this is how this works". It is a whole new ball of wax to actually see and experience these places and to then allow the children to ask questions and come to their own conclusions about what we are seeing.
One of the places we visited was a mink farm. These farm raised mink are raised in "houses" until they develop a desirable pelt. They are then killed, skinned, and turned into coats and such mainly for European countries. I could have told my children what my ethical view point was on the subject while sitting at our dining room table. All while shading my talking points in an attempt to push them to see things my way. I did not do that. I intentionally did not share any of my view points or shade my narrative in any direction.
We took a walk around the mink farm and got an up close and personal tour from the owner of the farm. He took us through and showed us all of the different steps of raising farmed mink. This included preparing their food, how they are watered, where they are kept, their vaccination schedules, etc.
The children asked quite a few very interesting questions about not only the farm raised mink but wild mink as well. Thank goodness for google on my cell phone!
So what did they decide about mink farming? It doesn't really matter does it?
They had a hands on view of a real life facility. They got to ask questions and delve into the information surrounding the operation. When the person they were asking did not know an answer they researched and found it for themselves. They then formulated their own view point on the subject based on their experience, research, and internal belief structure.
Will their view point stay the same as they age? Maybe. That isn't the point however. I am not trying to teach my children to feel a certain way about certain subjects. I am teaching them to investigate, question, research, and become involved in things they know nothing about before forming an opinion. I am teaching them that they can not form a view point on a subject without first seeing and researching the subject. Walking blindly into an opinion without all of the information is a dangerous way to live your life.
I hope that as they age my children will continue to question and investigate the world around them. That they will never be persuaded to simply adopt someone's opinion on a subject simply because they are told to do so. The world is full of people willing to share their opinions based on little to no facts. I hope my children will learn to base their opinions on their own research and critical thinking.
Not a bad lesson while on vacation, huh?