Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Believe

I believe we underestimate children. By we I mean teachers, parents, and our society.

I believe there are two main things we can do to change this. One, we can say yes to children. For the majority of adults the quick, gut response to any request from a child is no. If we would take just a brief moment to consider why we are saying no we might, quite frequently, realize there is no good reason not to say yes. The second thing we can do is to give kids control. The normal relationship between a child and an adult is one of power (at least that is a piece of the relationship). The adult has all of it. Giving the child some control goes against the standard and is, therefore, difficult. It's worth it.

I believe saying yes and giving kids control benefits all of us. Imagine a job at which your every request is turned down and you have no power over how your time or energies are spent. Would you put forth a lot of effort? Would you try your best? I doubt it. Now, imagine the opposite, your ideas and suggestions are respected and encouraged, you are trusted to try new things and spend your time well. That is an environment that encourages people to give it their all.

I believe that these small steps encourage students to be responsible and creative, and fosters leadership skills. Students with these qualities can succeed beyond our wildest expectations and grow into adults who will fly.


Dahlia said...

I agree completely. What really confuses me is how adults complain that children no longer have intellectual curiousity and simultaneously squash down any idea that kids bring up.

Even outside of school, we have organized all kids' activities into neat, adult-created modules...many kids no longer have the pleasure of just playing with other kids without some adult input or control.

Thanks for your post...I need to constantly remember to get out of kids' way so that they can spread their wings!

The Science Goddess said...

I remember a speaker once advising that when a child asks you to do something (and you want to say "no"), ask "How long will it take?" His point was that in most cases, you're looking at 5 - 10 minutes. Then say, "Yes." Even if you feel like you need to tell the kid that you'll read the book, play the game for 10's okay. Take those few minutes.

Techmuse said...

There's a true dichotomy...on one hand most teachers, parents,etc underestimate what small children and do and think and, at the same time, push them to grow up too fast.
As I've said many times--even Kinders can think divergently if your help/encourage/allow them to....but how do you convince teachers of that? (not to mention parents_

Teachermum said...

Well said. We owe it to our children to teach them independence and resillience minus a power struggle - which only leads to arguments in the end anyway.

A MilShelb Mom said...

YES!!! I love it. You are so right. It is difficult to do, but it really is a must.

Jenny said...

Dahlia, I think that's a common problem - we complain about something that we are, at the same time, making worse. We need to stop and think about what we are doing. I don't do that enough!

Science Goddess, I'm especially bad about saying no if it requires me getting involved. I need to remember that question. I'm better about saying yes if it's something they can do independently. And I think that's still an area we could do better with.

Techmuse, Convincing folks is the challenge. I wish I had a good answer for that.

Teachermum, You said that beautifully! I'm tempted to print out your comment and hang it up at home and at school.

AMilShelb Mom, If it were easy we'd be doing it already I guess. It's so often the difficult things that are the most important to do well.

Chickadee said...

I agree with this. I was a co-leader of Brownie troop this past school year and in April we spent a weekend at camp. The camp was out of the city and a bit of distance. I had printed directions and one of the girls in the backseat offered to read me the directions as we drove. My immediate reaction was to tell her "no" because she was young, but I felt it would be a good opportunity for her to read and comprehend directions so I handed her the paper. She did pretty good. If I wasn't sure what she meant, I asked her to reread that portion of the directions. Good lesson for both the child and the adult.

Jenny said...

Chickadee, I love that story! I'm not sure I would have had the guts to hand that over to a kid and I'm so impressed that you did. Thanks for sharing that because I think it is a good reminder to me that I still don't say yes and trust kids enough.