Last year Matt Lowry wrote a blog-post on Using Mythology as a Critical Thinking Tool: The Lesson of Santa for Kids – just as Tim Minchin wrote a piece for the New Statesman about his own efforts to balance a pro-naturalistic worldview and living a life unencumbered by superstition, while raising kids and encouraging a love of fiction.
I’m just one of the many contributors to JREF’s ongoing blog series on skepticism and education. If you are an educator and would like to contribute to this series, please contact Bob Blaskiewicz over on the JREF site.
Matt: I think that reality has a way of imposing itself, whether or not we want it to. The example that Tim [Minchin] made, even at such a young age with his daughter Violet – she’s talking about death. She knows that people die and that is the crushing blow. When you come to the realisation that there is this thing called mortality, and even more shocking, that you are moral.
Kylie: Santa can’t bring you back after that. It’s not a wish you can make…
Matt: Right, which is why I think that starting with things like Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are probably maybe a gentler way of easing people into these questions. I think maybe it prepares you for those tougher questions, such as the ones about death and mortality, and is there an afterlife and so on.
The kids are thinking about this stuff. It would be crazy if they weren’t thinking about it. They are being bombarded by all kinds of mythologies about the afterlife and so on, depending upon their religious upbringing or what they’re learning at home. They’re getting that all over the place, so of course they’re going to be asking questions about this. Even atheistic children are going to ask those questions.
The full interview features on the Token Skeptic podcast, episode #96 – On Critical Thinking and Santa (Again) – if you’d like to have a listen!
In addition, I’ve written for the Swift blog a few times, you can check out other ones from this year: