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Want to Change the World? Learn from Your Kids

We learn many things from our parents: how to eat properly, how to brush our teeth, and, I hope, how to greet strangers. Others we learn through observation: how to love, how to care, and even how to mourn.

Jewish tradition speaks at length about parents’ and elders’ obligations toward children and the young. The Talmud, for example, instructs parents to teach their children Torah, in essence, by modeling proper values. The ancient rabbis expound upon this obligation, adding that parents must teach their children a trade and, according to some, also to swim.

In fact, religious wisdom, adheres to the principle that older is better, and the closer the words are to Mount Sinai, the more revered and wiser they are. It lives by the ideal that older generations must impart teachings to younger generations, that decades of accumulated wisdom count for more than newfound knowledge. It often distrusts the new, the innovative, and especially that which veers from thousands of years of tradition. It looks askance at what we can learn from our youth and contemporary society

The tradition does not imagine the values we might learn from children...