I was recently reminded of how impressionable our children are. With the current pace of our world, one can forget to take the time to shield them, or at least teach them, about what they see and hear in light of our Catholic faith.
A few weeks back, an event happened at recess that put me in a situation to look our culture square in the eye as it played out on our baseball diamonds.
I am sure you are all too aware of the NFL controversies around the National Anthem, player’s rights, the role of the president, and all of those components that personally, make me shake my head.
Regardless of your opinions and mine, one can’t deny the impression this is making on our young people when in a moment of playing an innocent game of kickball, the players in the field stop to take a knee.
What? Yes, a group of children playing kickball took it upon themselves to just stop and take a knee. I saw it and was a bit dumbfounded. I waited to see what would happen next – some shouting to get on with the game, some exasperated looks of “What is going on?”, and then eventually the game resumed. Interested, I continued to watch. The fielding team went in to take their turn at bat. As anticipated, the now fielding team took a stab at pausing the game to take a knee as retaliation played out.
The teachable moment was upon me. I called “Time Out” and brought everyone to the pitcher’s mound. I asked the group in as innocent a way as possible, “What are you doing by kneeling down?” The initiator said he was protesting. I asked, “What are you protesting?” No one really knew how to answer. I asked if they knew what it meant to protest. They didn’t know. I explained.
After explaining, I then asked what they would be protesting about this recess. They didn’t have any clue, as nothing was wrong. Clearly, they just saw individuals that they idolize doing this, thought it was cool, and followed suit. That bothered me. What bothered me more was the way the children followed the leader not knowing what the leader was doing. That is really scary. I furthered the teachable moment along this vein – children do not have to simply do what others do. If you don’t understand or don’t agree, don’t follow.
Conscience formation is a critical component of what we do at school. We have opportunities to catch impressionable minds in social situations that parents may not always get.
Parents as primary educators are the first teachers of right and wrong. How parents “teach” when reacting to television, radio, movies, or media in anyway is teaching the children and forming a conscience.
Children are watching. Children are listening. Children are emulating what they see. Let’s be vigilant together.
Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.