Right and Wrong? Or Smart? What should a Child be Taught?
Posted on: January 22, 2022.


The question as to what is better, I think teaching our children what is “right” and what is “wrong” is necessary. Smartness, typically, can only be developed—it is not something that can be taught.

However, what should be inculcated in our children, if they are to live honestly and peacefully, is morality, integrity, sincerity, and the ability to distinguish between truth, falsehood, righteousness, and wrongdoing.

It is not always that smartness is morally right. Therefore, the need of the hour is in teaching young minds how to lead a life of moral righteousness. It is not “smartizens” but good citizens that India needs today.

In discussing this subject in an open forum once, over a decade ago, one of our parents presented the perspective of the Chinese philosophy of “Yin & Yang”—the concept of our life, told graphically.

Nothing actually is completely good or totally bad—there is some bad in every good, and some good in every bad. It is what should be taken from circumstances and situations that children must be taught.

Wrongdoing can never claim smartness as an excuse or eligibility. It is within the boundary of right thinking and action that smartness should be confined.

A moral revolution has been the need of the hour—for many decades overdue—for India, “our country”, which has presented great clarity for parents as to what their critical duty is.

The only way to establish an honest and proud India is to inculcate in Indian children the habit of “non-negotiable” morals and values—never should they trade their morals or values for anything more or less.

There was not much direct media influence on the presence of negative factors which in bigger forms then existed—childhood days’ learning that should be remembered as a golden time.

Sincerity and honesty are values in life that should be strengthened by imprinting morality in young minds. And a fun yet effective way to do so is…

…telling children moral stories from Panchatantra, Chanakya Neethi, or Satya Harishchandra. Of what could furthermore be done, the most ideal would be for parents to…

…impart in children the ability to distinguish—without any bias—between right and wrong by forming strongly positive bonds with them through sessions of storytelling.

Parents unwittingly and passively educate their children through their behaviour and manners. That said, what is right, what is not, and the difference between the two should be taught to children.

That the end justifies the means would be the unintended assumption children would make if we achieved our objectives the “wrong way”, say for example driving on the wrong side of the road.

It is presence of mind that has helped several honest people get the better of their opponents. There need not necessarily be a negative connotation to children becoming smart.

While phrasing is what it solely depends on, children can be taught to be both smart and moral. It is, however, only in the right ways that smartness should be achieved by children and adults alike.

Situations today require a person to be both smart and straightforward. Parents should be cautious about the fact that children would in the name of acting smart pick up the wrong behaviour.

If it is through oppression of the weak or cheating that children try to achieve what they want, it would be an entirely different and totally immoral connotation to “smartness”.

Conclusively, it is the “at-any-cost-and-in-any-way” approach to goals being achieved willingly by people, in a world where the singular, critical reason for all wrongdoing is COMPETITION, that is the real evil.

If all of us are to live in a wonderful and peaceful world, then “Compete with your own self and not with others” would be a good saying to abide by.

The smart thing for parents to do is to teach children the right things. Doing the right things at the right time is essential smartness—and smarter youngsters is what India desperately needs.

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