When I teach a Sunday School lesson at our church in the nursery sometimes I have this weird feeling that I am brainwashing them. I mean I could tell them that a car is a mountain goat and they would believe it. Doug Wilson has a helpful perspective regarding teaching kids. He says the following:
Think of it this way. God wants the base coat of this painting to be pretty simple. God wants us to teach our children that Luther was good and the pope wasn’t. Is that the whole story? Of course not. But it is the right way to tell the story. You start at the beginning, when the hats are white and the other hats are black. Later on, you learn other stuff, and how you learn the other stuff makes all the difference.
Many students of history, coming to adulthood, come also to the conclusion that the broad, thick lines that drew their first picture of history were “lies” because they didn’t take the broader subtleties into account. But how could they? Either we teach no history at all to children, or we do it simplistically. This is how it is supposed to be.
Now if what a child learns is the reverse of the truth instead of a simpler version of it, that means that an overhaul later on is appropriate and necessary. But an overhaul is not necessary because a child learned some historical sound bytes about the American War for Independence or the Reformation.
I was talking to my son Nate about this afterward, and he compared it to looking at a cumulus cloud from a distance on a sunny day. The lines between cloud and blue sky are crisp and clean, and telling the difference between cloud and sky is the easiest thing in the world. But if you were to fly right by the cloud, you would see that the boundary between cloud and sky is not nearly so crisp and clean. This is not relativism, but it is perspectivalism.