Super Cities №244—What To Learn From Kids

Brendan Hart

Adults use weasel words to impress, confuse, and obfuscate. We educated elite have an incredible ability to string together words that mean nothing at all.

We can fool each other, but kids know better.

Richard Feynman – the Nobel-winning physicist – said that if an adult cannot teach a complex topic to a child, the adult did not know it well enough. Any confusion was the adult's fault.

Give it a shot.

Explain the market for agriculture futures to a five-year-old. Teach price elasticity to a third-grader. Educate a young person on great power competition or Newton's laws.

While you are at it, start listening to children. They often ask the best questions.

For example, why does our society let so many people die from drug overdoses? Why do we let people kill each other with machine guns? How can Individual-1 get away with it?

The power of simple questions is that they demand simple answers. Here's an example from the UN Climate Summit:

"People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?"

I know it will get lost in the never-ending cycle of politics, but you don't have to be a hippy environmentalist to understand her point.

Behind the moralizing and messaging, it's all just madness. Kids see it even if their parents do not.

If you need help, remember Feynman. Without using the words China or government or GDP, go explain to your young child or grandchild why letting the world burn is the right thing to do.

I dare you.

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