Child-rearing and early childhood education are topics that sneak their way into Tamar Gendler’s course at Yale titled Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature. Robert highly recommends the whole course. If everyone were to watch this course, the world would be MUCH better off.
Here is one particularly good (they are all good) lecture that comes toward the end of the course. The title of the lecture is “Censorship.” What Gendler discusses centrally is the urge to censor that can be said to have its rooting in Plato’s warnings about allowing children too much exposure to the “wrong kind” of poetry. To Plato, the children who were to be the leaders of society should not be exposed to fiction that demonstrates bad behavior. This is because even though the human mind “knows” a story is fictional, the irrational portions of one’s mind (soul) are not well able to defend against these stories, and, ultimately, these stories result in the habituation of that bad behavior and the diminution of virtue. To Plato, this irrational part of the mind is to be strengthened early in the education process. Only then should children move on to the learning of rationalizing subjects. Very Waldorf. Very cool.
Of course, some people say that Plato was responsible for WWII, so let’s not get carried away . . .