Our young children are constantly asking questions. They do this for information, to clarify, to connect, to fill silence - for a huge host of reasons. Somewhere down the track we lose that tendency and as adults we don't seem to question things nearly enough.
When we genuinely and deeply care about children, however, we need to be questioning what it is they are experiencing and exposed to, or alternatively, are missing out on. Alfie Kohn speaks the very core in us when he says
"too many educators seem to have lost their capacity to be outraged by outrageous things".
Our sector has gotten off course in many areas and it's important not to just follow suit or accept the 'norm' as being acceptable.
Justifications can be made for a lot of things, and it is easy to get swept up in the current and go with what we see happening all around us. OR we can be brave and ask our own questions. We can ask what is in our power to change?
What is truly best for children?
Which 'experts' are actually credible and also fit with our gut instincts? What is it like for the children in our care? How would we like this experience?
Maybe what we need to accompany our questions is a good solid answer, one that acts as a yardstick for measuring our uncertainties against.
Our role as educators is to serve children. Not lead them, ‘prepare’ them or isolate them from the real and natural world, but to SERVE them.
How is this serving the child?
Service comes from looking at the needs of the other, not of ourselves. Knowing this, we can create the question, ‘how is this serving the child’? whenever we come across new ideas, doubts, or the ‘norm’ that doesn’t necessarily sit well with us.
We also need to know it is about serving the child right now, not asking how it will serve them in years to come. We want to focus on today, knowing that tomorrow will take care of itself. Too often, a justification for some of the less heart-centred practices can be about creating independence in the child, or resiliency for later years, when at this age love and kindness have to be at the fore.
Our question then, has to be ‘how is this serving the child?’ whenever we come across new ideas, doubts, or the ‘norm’ that doesn’t necessarily sit well with us.
We can look at what we are currently doing and say, yes it may be different from what else we see but it feels right, and for the children and families we serve it is preferable.
This takes a certain courage, and willingness to step outside the norm, but in keeping with service to the child, there is no other way.
Once we start to question, our only way is forward, to forge on a path based on what we believe and with the ‘tribe‘ of like minded educators we connect with when we share our views respectfully.
We can follow our hearts and know that change for children can start small.
We cannot change the whole system but we can certainly make the best choices possible for those we do serve. In doing so, we can hope to send out ripples of heart centred, kind practice which others may just be looking to be swept up in.
(This article was adapted from a previously published blog post 'How is this serving the child?')
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