Jacob Needleman on helping children not to lie

This from Jacob Needleman on a conversation with a teenaged student*:  

"I ask her what she considers the most important thing in her life and immediately feel like biting my tongue. 

I see the lies start to form in the expression of her face…. She starts to fabricate something about wanting to be free from oppression yet self controlled, or something like that. 

I have made her lie, or reinforced a lie in her.

Asking 'did you break the cookie jar' doesn’t set a child up to lie, but asking "do you think [this thing I’ve just been lecturing you on] is true/important/relevant"  probably does."

So .... why do we ask questions that beg a lie? Maybe it’s so we can stop dealing with the issue and move on, maybe it’s because we want to be told things that we want to hear. 

Either way, if we’re looking to communicate and understand, we need to take care with our questions. Asking questions like Jacob Needleman's example just won’t get us there.

*From his essay ‘Wendy, Sim and Other Philosphers’ in Schools with Spirit - ed. Linda Lantieri

You can buy Schools with Spirit via these direct links: Amazon - Book Depository