Teaching Kids Choice & Consequence

The following post was originally a contribution I made to thelibertyparent.com, a fantastic site covering a vast range of topics related, but not limited, to raising kids with an understanding of liberty and responsibility. In addition to their blog, they have a myriad of product reviews, activities, links, and more. 

You can see the original post here.

Teaching Kids Choice & Consequence (originally published under the title, “Choices, It’s What Kids Need”)

One of the most beneficial courses I took in my educational training in college taught one of the most important strategies for effective classroom management: PAT. Preferred Activity Time. The basic principle offered by the professor was that a key to classroom management and incentivizing diligent, respectful, on-task students is to offer preferred activity time: flexible time to be used in ways that the kids preferred, within certain guidelines, of course.

And this PAT could be increased or decreased based on students’ behavior, respect, diligence, et cetera. The basic idea here was that students have a stake in their time. They have an investment, and they can make choices as to how to use that investment.

The basic idea behind this is a cornerstone of liberty. We all know that we more highly value something we own than something we are loaned, especially if there is work involved to attain it. In the educational training, there was just a little bit of PAT to begin with (say, five minutes), but that could be increased if the students made appropriate choices with their investment, and decreased if the students made poor choices with their time.

As parents raising kids grounded with the fundamental understanding of liberty, we have to do the same. We have to teach individual responsibility. We have to help our kids understand that their time, their money, their resources and their talents are investments to be used with wisdom or foolishness. We have to give them a stake, and the consequences—good and bad— that come with that.

The same is true in teaching finance to our kids…

[Read the rest of this article here.]


Thumbnail photo credit goes to brakpanherald.co.za. 

Human Nature is Like Water


People are like water. At least, in one way critical to understanding why I would even bother creating this entire blog.

As a Christian, I believe that human nature is inherently bent toward sin. Many libertarians and liberty-minded people disagree with me. Well, frankly, I think most people disagree with me.

But whether or not you agree with that premise, I think I can win my case about water.

Water always takes the path of least resistance. It will not climb a hill when it could run down a ravine. It will readily spray from the faucet where a hose has been poorly connected while leaving the plants at the other end just as parched as before. But it is an obvious enough idea that it really doesn’t merit further examples.

Still, allow me to make the connection to human nature. With exceptions that are more rare than normal, most people, without a great enough commitment beyond their own desires, will pursue their needs and wants in the easiest way possible. This is not always necessarily bad. For example, it drives people to industry and efficiency. Why would I learn to write html code to design this blog when I could simply use the wonderfully simple tool of WordPress?

And yet, this pursuit of self-interest along the path that creates the least friction in that pursuit often is wrong, both subtly and not so subtly. The untrained human nature will tend to try to cheat on a test if there is no possibility it could be found out and it will guarantee them an A. But it is not always so obvious and most often is more about a balancing act between integrity—doing right—and lack thereof. Can I get a good grade in this class by only skimming the book? What is the minimum number of sales I must make to earn a bonus at work? Sometimes it’s not necessarily a moral or ethical question. Will I be willing to commit a larger portion of my salary for a longer period of time in order to get that bigger house now?

See where I am going with this? Now, before those who do not believe in an external or transcendent standard of morality that would inherently condemn my suggestions that there is a fundamental right and wrong, follow me to my more practical conclusion…in my next couple of posts.