Read each of the following passages and answer the items that follow. Your answers to these items should be based on the passages only.
The first important point about how children learn prejudice is that they do. They aren’t born that way, though some people think prejudice is innate and like to quote the old saying, “You can’t change human nature.” But you can change it. We now know that very small children are free of prejudice. Studies of school children have shown that prejudice is slight or absent among children in the first and second grades. After this, it may fall off again in adolescence. Other studies have shown that, on an average, young adults are much freer of prejudice than older ones.
In the early stages of picking up prejudice, children mix it with ignorance which, as I’ve said, should be distinguished from prejudice. A child, as he begins to study the world around him, tries to organise his experiences. Doing this, he begins to classify things and people and begins to form connections—or what psychologists call associations. He needs to do this because he saves time and effort by putting things and people into categories. But unless he classifies correctly, his categories will mislead rather than guide him. For example, if a child learns that “all fires are hot and dangerous,” fires have been put firmly into the category of things to be watched carefully—and thus he can save himself from harm. But if he learns a category like “Negroes are lazy” or “foreigners are fools,” he‘s learned generalisations that mislead because they’re unreliable. The thing is that, when we use categories, we need to remember the exceptions and differences, the individual variations that qualify the usefulness of all generalisations. Some fires, for example, are hotter and more dangerous than others. If people had avoided all fires as dangerous, we would never have had central heating.
More importantly, we can ill afford to treat people of any given group as generally alike, even when it’s possible to make some accurate generalisations about them. So when a child first begins to group things together, it’s advisable that he learns differences as well as similarities. For example, basic among the distinctions he draws is the division into “good” and “bad”, which he makes largely on the grounds of what his parents do and say about things and the people. Thus, he may learn that dirt is “bad” because his mother washes him every time he gets dirty. By extension, seeing a Negro child, he might point to him and say, “Bad child”, for the Negro child’s face is brown, hence, unwashed and dirty, and so, “bad” We call this prelogical thing, and all of us go through this phase before we learn to think more effectively.
But some people remain at this stage and never learn that things seem alike, such as dirt and brown pigmen are really quite different. Whether a child graduates from his stage to correct thinking or to prejudicial thinking, depends to a great extent on his experiences with his parents and teachers.
Which one of the following statements is not true?