This last Thursday, our Life Lessons evening focused on doing your research, getting the facts and understanding, and knowing what you are talking about before forming opinions and making comments about particular subjects.
What led me to this topic as a Life Lesson was frequent questions conversation at our house with our kids about capitalism vs. socialism. They would frequently point out something that they saw or understood in Europe, especially here in Italy where we live, and ask if I thought that it was an example of socialism. We often didn’t have time to dive into the nuances of the conversation, so we frequently left the conversation open-ended and without a satisfactory ending.
I decided, therefore, to illustrate the need to do your research and gain understanding by watching three videos together from YouTube, learning what capitalism, socialism, and communism are and then discussing them together as a family to confirm that everyone understood, at least at the level of the fundamentals of each system if not also the implications and perceived advantages or disadvantages of each system.
Interestingly, I found that it was a little difficult to find videos on these topics that gave a simple rendering of the facts without much opinion or political background for each of the systems. I found that even those that were presenting the facts were frequently also presenting a lot of the back-and-forth that we see in political conversation, thus making it challenging to present to kids without being too confusing and getting caught up in the swirl of unnecessary political conversation.
If you are interested, here are the three videos that we watched:
In each of these videos, I simply asked the kids some basic questions to check their understanding. For example:
- What is capitalism / socialism / communism?
- What is the goal of the system?
- How is it achieved?
- What are the potential advantages / disadvantages of this system?
We tried to stay away from the political conversation although, of course, even as the kids asked questions about the advantages and disadvantages, we couldn’t completely ignore our opinions on each of the systems given that we have certain values that we have each grown up with and consider more important over another. At this point, though, my hope is that my kids have a sense of the differences between these economic systems and can begin to form their opinions based on knowledge and understanding instead of simply being caught up in a wave of political or emotional frenzy based on who they like, who they don’t like, or some other type of making decisions that lack real knowledge of the subject that they are discussing.