In fifteen years as a classroom teacher I probably said it 100 times and thought it 1000 times more often than that.
I look back now and see how silly the idea is that a child should be molded into something, particularly when they are doing a fine job becoming what they are by themselves. But this idea has become pervasive in our society.
It’s Halloween and there are no ends to the ways we adults act in ways that we claim to be “for the children” and “protecting children” that are really more about massaging our own adult egos. The trunk or treat, where adults in a town gather together, creating elaborate displays in the trunks of their cars and trucks so that they can protect their children from urban legends. All while unwittingly turning Halloween into nothing more than a mass candy grab.
We have schools writing up ever longer special Halloween dress codes (no masks! No clowns!) so that they can be sure that children are in a wholesome place that is not “disruptive of the academic environment.” Some schools ban children from dressing up for Halloween altogether. All so that we adults can feel that we are an influential force on children and can claim that we have “molded children into positive contributors to society.”
We invent stories to convince ourselves that the world is becoming a scarier and more dangerous place for our children, despite all evidence to the contrary. The children aren’t being well served by these policies and events. But we can say that our trunk or treat display won the prize and that we wrote a school policy that is having a positive impact because disruptive incidents are down without every questioning whether they were up high to begin with. We can say that we contributed to molding minds. Making the children.