“Teach Your Children” is a song by Graham Nash. Although it was written when Nash was a member of The Hollies, it was never recorded by that group, and first appeared on the album Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released in 1970. The recording features Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. Garcia had made an arrangement so if that he played pecal steel on Teach Your Children that CSNY would teach Bob Weir. Released as a single, the song peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts that year. The song was also used in the 1971 comedy film Melody.
Nash, who is also a photographer and collector of photographs, has stated in an interview that the immediate inspiration for the song came from a famous photograph by Diane Arbus, “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.” The image, which depicts a child with an angry expression holding the toy weapon, prompted Nash to reflect on the societal implications of messages given to children about war and other issues.
In 1984, Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale used the song in a campaign commercial on arms control.
In 1994, Crosby, Stills & Nash re-recorded the song with guest vocals from country music artists Suzy Bogguss, Alison Krauss and Kathy Mattea, crediting the recording to “The Red Hots”. This version was included on the album Red Hot + Country, a release by the Red Hot Organization benefiting AIDS awareness. The Red Hots’ version of the song spent one week on the Hot Country Songs charts in October 1994, peaking at #75. The song was performed by Michael and Dwight on the 2006 Office episode “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”.