9 yr old boys aren’t likely to sit still at the best of times, put 15 of them in a line to do drills at soccer tryouts and those near the back of the line will get out of line quite easily.
That’s what I found myself watching as my oldest made his way through the stations at his soccer tryouts this week. A dozen or so boys would fidget and fuss while one did the drill. They’d shuffle forward, another would step into line, and the fidgeting and fussing would resume.
One of the distractions turned to a conversation cum debate. I can’t remember what it centered about – something about animals or planets or sports teams or some other random topic that 9 yr old boys care about – the topic of the debate wasn’t the important part of my observation, it was how the debate played out that shocked me.
I watched how half a dozen aggressive, confident, loud boys (the ones who were leading the fidgeting and fussing) got into a discussion with my son. Zacharie is a quiet, empathetic, soft-hearted boy, the exact opposite of the group surrounding him. Their random debate went back and forth and I watched as the loud boys, who were arguing the factually incorrect side (about biggest planet, fastest animal or whatever) continued to aggressively argue their point until Zacharie, who was arguing the truth, stopped engaging them and gave up.
Right there, in front of me, in the form of half a dozen 9 year olds, I saw the seed of anti-intellectualism. Boys who were wrong, but had the confidence and aggression to push their point forward, steam-rolled over the truth to create their own conventional wisdom. Suddenly the crowd agreed elephants were faster than cheetahs, Saturn was bigger than Jupiter, etc.
It’s the same manner that shouts down science to the point where ‘vaccines cause autism‘ somehow becomes a credible argument. It’s the same manner where a city council empowers the tin foil ‘fluoride is dangerous’ crowd by allowing them to control the health care of a city.
Then it was Zacharie’s turn to get up and do the drill. He walked away from the arguments, focused on dribbling the ball. But the confrontation stuck with me as I silently cheered him on.
It was right there, in the boisterous arguments of 9 year old boys waiting impatiently for a soccer drill, that I saw how Donald Trump could be elected president.
Just because a kids is loudest, doesn’t mean he’s right. It’s great that you have raised your kids to be confident, but you need to teach them to be thoughtful, reasoned, and respectful. You need to teach them to speak less, listen more and not be ideological in their beliefs and to compromise.