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Five Fallacies We Must Abandon As We Lead Students

Lynn Austin learned the “price” of little, white lies.  She writes, “My five year old son had been looking forward to visiting the planetarium while on vacation, but when we arrived, we learned that children under age 6 were not admitted.”

“’Let’s pretend you had a birthday,’ I told him. ‘If the ticket man asks you how old you are, I want you to say, “I’m six.”

“I made him practice it until he sounded convincing, then bought the tickets without any problems. When the show ended, we moved on to the museum. There, a large sign read, ‘Children 5 and Under Admitted Free.’ To avoid the $5 admission fee, I had to convince my son to forget his pretend birthday.

“The consequences of my lie became apparent as we walked up the steps to our last destination, the aquarium. ‘Wait a minute, mom!’ my son said with a worried look. ‘How old am I now?’”

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As sweet and innocent as this story is, Lynn puts her finger on something important for every adult. Eventually, our lies, which were intended to help our children get something, actually begin to confuse them. This is true with each of the lies we use.

For years, I have warned teachers, parents and coaches about how much we “lie” to kids today. We don’t mean to—but we do. Even to teens, we say things like:

  • You can be anything you want to be. (So they assume they’ll be the next American Idol).
  • You are awesome! You’re the best! (They assume they’re entitled and can act arrogant).
  • You are smart. You’re gifted. (They assume they shouldn’t have to try hard in school).

We mean well when we say these things, and they’re probably OK when students are young. By the time they reach middle school, they figure out someone’s not being honest with them. The difficult truth raises its ugly head.

There is a reason why these lies are dangerous. Each of them is built on a fallacy. The false foundations are not stable enough to build a life on, and will ultimately crumble. A young person who buys into a lie will eventually sabotage their future. What’s more, the lie will not allow them to become the person they are capable of becoming. Consider this. If the truth makes us free, then lies must put us in bondage. Emotional chains.  I believe part of the reason for Generation iY’s struggle to launch is their propensity to embrace lies about themselves and life in general. Examine below the fallacies upon which our lies are built.

Five Fallacies Our Lies Stem From:

a. Instant customization – The belief that I should have a customized experience in all that I do. This is damaging because life is about more than me and my needs. We will all have to compromise a bit on our preferences and fit into something much bigger than us. Life is about finding our role within the big picture and adding value.

b. Instant gratification – The belief that if I want it, I should have it now. This is damaging because I must learn to delay pleasures and be disciplined to work for them.  Generation iY hates this phrase, but they must learn to “pay their dues.” Patience and persistence are virtues. They must pay now so they can play later.

c. Instant socialization – The belief that I must stay in constant communication with others to be happy and fulfilled. This is damaging because contentment should not require someone provide it for us. Also, with “instant socialization,” I fail to build relational skills that come only through real life face-to-face time with people.

d. Instant affirmation – The belief that I need immediate, positive feedback from others to feel OK. This is damaging because life doesn’t always instantly reward what is right. In fact, our world may never notice quiet acts of kindness or deeds of service done from proper motives. We must do what is right not what gets applause.

e. Instant information – The belief that I must have all the available information on a subject right away.  This is damaging because educators and psychologists will tell you that young people are not emotionally ready for everything their brain can take in. There’s a difference between the ability to consume information and process it.

Do you see any other fallacies we’ve accidentally led from?


Five Fallacies We Must Abandon As We Lead Students