A story of teaching sociology to a young child

At a few points, I’ve thought about how sociology could be taught to young children. One way would be to include it the social studies curriculum but another would be to have kids accompany their parents to college classes in sociology:

Fourteen years ago, Karen Bilodeau was an unusual student at Bates College. She was 33 years old and often took her preschooler, Emma, with her to classes or to meetings with professors…

All that made an impression on Emma, a senior at Edward Little High School. With a goal of becoming a doctor helping underprivileged children, this fall she’ll go to college on the campus she walked as a child…

Between the ages of 3 and 6, Emma remembers going to professor Emily Kane’s sociology classes. “I remember her doing a lot of projects. Kane examined gender equality in ‘The Little House on the Prairie.’ I remember that being fascinating,” Emma said…

When it was time for Emma’s college search, she longed to go out of state. During an overnight visit to Oberlin in Ohio, she said she changed her mind, preferring to be near her younger siblings and longing for Bates.

At age 17, like she did at age 4, Emma sat in on Professor Kane’s sociology class. “It was very much like, ‘This is what I want to be doing the next four years,'” she said.

Emma plans to study sociology and African-American studies. Her adopted siblings are African-American. She also plans to take science classes to help her continue to medical school.

“I really want to help underprivileged kids as a pediatrician or surgeon” in Haiti or Africa, she said.

A nice story. I’ve wondered how much introducing younger kids to sociology might help boost the discipline’s profile before students enter college as sociology is one of few disciplines that new college students don’t know much about. Or, perhaps this would help imprint sociology on the nation’s consciousness in a way that it isn’t now. This reminds me of Jane Elliot’s famous “blue eyes, brown eyes” experiment in a third-grade classroom. As Elliot has showed, this experience was formative in the lives of her small-town Iowa students. Perhaps the route to public sociology should begin with children rather than adults?


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