No, They Don’t.

No, They Don’t.

Dr. Helen links to this interesting PJM column by Mike McNally, Teaching Human Rights to Toddlers. Here’s the portion I take exception to:

According to the UK’s Telegraph, the project “will see teachers explaining to children as young as three that people across the world live different lives but everyone has a right to food, water, and shelter.”

No. They don’t. If they did, some other entity would be obligated to provide them. They have the right to seek food, water, and shelter, but no inherent right to have them.

Further down in McNally’s piece comes this gem of observation:

Parents reading about this new obsession with teaching “rights” could be forgiven for thinking that schools should focus on doing a better job of teaching the existing three R’s before adding a fourth to the syllabus. Because, while a decade and more of bar-lowering by Labour has led to more British pupils leaving school with more paper qualifications every year, anecdotal evidence from universities and employers suggests that educational standards are plummeting.

And the rot begins in primary school. A government report last year revealed that forty percent of British children struggle to write their own name, or form simple words such as “dog,” by the age of five, while a quarter fail to reach the expected levels of emotional development for their age.

And with British teenagers leading most of Europe in binge drinking, violence, teenage pregnancy, and abortions, it could also be argued that instead of teaching children about “rights,” or worrying about their tolerance of food from other cultures, schools should be more concerned with teaching them “right,” as distinct from wrong.

Robert Heinlein published Starship Troopers in 1959, and from it came this canny observation:

The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual. Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand — that is, with a spanking. But the society they were in told them endlessly about their ‘rights.’

Looks like we’re still right on schedule.

UPDATE: Rachel has another example of a society where children are told endlessly about their rights, and nothing about their duties.

‘You can’t touch us, we’re 15, we can do what the f*** we like.

Heinlein would be so proud…

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