Out of the Mouths of Babes: First Grader Sparks Debate

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As was his custom, a First grade teacher wrote the Puzzle of the Week on the blackboard for his students. It is likely that he never expected one child’s answer to take on such significance in the on-line community. However, what started as a simple riddle, developed into a full-scale debate about the meaning of life.

The teacher was looking for the simple answer of the letter “e”. The riddle started with I am the beginning of Everything and the end of Everywhere…it went on to stress other words that began or ended with the letter ‘e’. It was truly shocking when one little boy raised his hand and replied, “Death”.

Other children then chimed in with some similar guesses. The teacher did not say if any child answered in the way he anticipated and he didn’t share whether the class then discussed the matter further. But this child’s astuteness maybe gives a glimpse into how modern life has affected our youngest generation.

The teacher posted the child’s response on a social media site, and from there it took off. It sparked a debate about the origins of the universe and the meaning of life and death. Questions about God were thrown into the mix and whether anyone can actually know any of the answers with certainty. But what made the child think in this manner?

Is it a recent development that children think in such abstract ways? When I was a child, I tended to be a bit of a dreamer, but still, my biggest worry was whether it would be nice enough to play outside when I got off school. So, how did we go from what’s for dinner to death is the beginning and end of everything?

Our culture does seem to emphasize the finality of life. The news is full of impending disaster and how things will get worse with the next storm or economic upheaval. Have we stolen our children’s innocence with the constant stream of negativity? It is on the shoulders of parents and teachers to help reverse this trend.

Is it wrong to want children to return to a state of innocence? Should children have the weight of the world on their shoulders at such a young age? Is it harmful for them to consider things such as death and life while sitting in a first grade classroom? I think it is, actually. I believe children should be entitled to hang onto their innocence for as long as possible.

Maybe it would be helpful if parents and teachers made a concerted effort to shield youngsters from some of the harsher aspects of society. It is good to allow children to mature, however, it does no harm to allow them to be children for as long as possible. They will have the weight of the world to bear in due time. For now, encourage them to play in the mud, ride their bikes and figure out that sometimes the answer to the riddle is a simple letter ‘e’.

Writer Bio:  Angela Mose

I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years.  I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia.  A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.


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