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Jesse McCarthy: The Emperor's New Clothes and Raising independent Children

We all know the story "The Emperor's New Clothes." It's meant to illustrate the vanity of human desires and the problem with excessive pride. In our daily lives we may experience a moment when we realize our boss or, heaven forbid, we are not wearing any clothes.

We believe something that isn't real. We believe the idea for a new business marketing plan is great, but it's really a waste of time. We believe that perfect couple is perfect, merely from a social media post. We know the truth. But no one wants to admit it. Children will. Children can be uncomfortably truthful (the younger the more so). Why does it take a child to point out how obviously nude the emperor is? And how can we nurture that independent thinking, truthfulness, and connection to reality as a child matures and becomes more socialized? That's the subject of our conversation today.

Jesse McCarthy, author of the upcoming book Montessori Education, is an expert in child development. He received his B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and his Montessori teacher's diploma for 3- to 6-year-olds from the Montessori Institute of San Diego (MISD). Jesse has worked with thousands of children, teachers, and parents through the years, as an elementary & junior-high school teacher, as a Head of School overseeing programs for infants to 8th graders, and as an executive helping to lead a group of over a dozen Montessori schools.

Listen in as we converse with the verse in this (my favorite so far) podcast episode: The Emperor's New Clothes.

THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES a translation of Hans Christian Andersen's by Jean Hersholt

Many years ago there was an Emperor so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on being well dressed. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in his carriage, except to show off his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, "The King's in council," here they always said. "The Emperor's in his dressing room."

In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two swindlers. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.

"Those would be just the clothes for me," thought the Emperor. "If I wore them I would be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get some of the stuff woven for me right away." He paid the two swindlers a large sum of money to start work at once.

They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. All the finest silk and the purest old thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night.

"I'd like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth," the Emperor thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn't have been that he doubted himself, yet he thought he'd rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth's peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.