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Why parents should book their children’s minds

Children: They are born with a blank slate, are curious and ask a lot of questions. With conflicting information, especially on learning material used, who cautions them against all this and what are the dangers of feeding them with wrong facts?

Faith Gachobe @wangechigachobe

Recently, some pages from an alleged science book for Grade One or Two pupils were doing round on social media. The book had parts of the body labelled wrongly and scattered reproductive system education that was absolutely absurd.

For instance, it said that the reason many people have got two legs is in case they get pregnant with twins, they can safely grow inside of their mother’s legs with plenty of room.

Also in a page titled miracle of life, the author explained that there are a lot of ways a woman get pregnant, but the most popular way is for a man to lay egg into a woman’s mouth so she can swallow it and grow it into a baby.

However, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chief corporate affairs officer Dennis Odunga says there is no cause for alarm. He said KICD has not approved such a book.

Odunga dismissed the fake books as published by attention seekers who are just out to raise controversies. He asked people to restrain from sharing biased viewpoints to issues of national interest.

To avoid unnecessary panic by parents, Odunga advises that the books being purchased by schools and individual parents be checked for the approval stamp.

“We have no control on what is posted on social media. Some of the books are even from other countries. We had a case of a book from South Africa being posted once,” says Odunga.

“The efforts made to ensure that instructional material is of high quality are deliberate. This include quality of the cover pages, relevance of content to the curriculum, appropriateness of language used, layout and use of illustrations that enhance teaching and learning,” he adds.

Psychologists argue that a child is born with a blank slate. So, what happens if the parents, schools, and even society feeds him/her with false information? Child psychologist, Dr Philomena Ndambuki, says the effect is manifested in the children’s social and educational performances.

“To begin with, it is a crime to teach children any kind of information that is not accurate. The process of unlearning it takes much longer than the learning one,” she says. Dr Ndambuki says that the reason wrong information tends to stick is because rejecting information requires cognitive effort.

“Usually accepting information as true is psychologically much easier for children than weighing the credibility and source of the information,” she explains.

Critical evaluation, which is important for a child’s development becomes hard to achieve. Because of the process of trying to help the child unlearn, the instructor too become overwhelmed by the fact that the learner had believed so much false information.

“Patience tends to run out when your student is not following much. Some instructors end up being hostile to their students making things worse,” Dr Ndambuki says. “Even worse, efforts to retract misinformation often backfire, unexpectedly amplifying the effect of the wrong belief,” she adds.

As for the parent, Dr Ndambuki says that is important not to trash all instructional material as misleading. She says it is of essence that parents goes through their children school-work and textbooks.

“As easy as that sounds, the effect of your child being a victim is often loss of trust in the school system and the instructors in general,” she reveals.

Sociologist, Beatrice Nderitu, says parents are first agents of socialisation and, therefore, plays a critical role in a child cognitive development. “A Kiswahili proverb goes, Asiyefunzwa na mamaye hufunzwa na ulimwengu. Therefore, parents should be the first to educate their children as they grow up on matters reproduction, sex among others,” she says.

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