Logic’s Last Stand

February 1, 2008

5 Essentials to Better Understanding Children

Filed under: Philosophy — Zurahn @ 6:18 am

Hey, wait a minute you’re no pediatrician, you’re no parent, what do you know about children?

What I know is that I have a very vivid recollection of throughout my years of childhood, including thoughts, emotions and events. While I cannot apply my own experience universally, I’m fairly confident in the following as general statements.

1. They are remorseful

Children aren’t perfect, no. They do things that in hindsight weren’t good ideas. But here’s the divide: they aren’t out to annoy you. They aren’t trying to flaunt the rules, rebel, or ignore you. They’re kids. They’re active, and accidents (preventablea s they may be) happen. And they feel bad about it. Given most cases they already feel bad enough about causing _______ to ________, an angry lecture only serves to diminish that remorse.

2. They have genuine feelings

Children cry, they get frustrated, they get excited and they get bored. It’s all too often these get passed off as some brilliant ploy for sympathy, but despite your best attempts at a conspiracy theory, the simplest answer is that they actual have feelings.

3. They are markedly bright

Adults go to work and do relatively the same thing day in and day out. They may be up on current events and know many facts about before the kids were born, but the days of learning are mostly behind them. In that, it’s not surprising that a child is actually quite the knowledge-base, and for more than being startlingly up-to-date on technology. They like to know things, it’s human nature, so perhaps you might actually consider that.

4. They hate school for reasons other than homework

Sure, that two-page math assignment over the weekend is pretty lame, but that’s hardly why kids hate school. While they may be able to be with friends at recess, that recess is filled with the same indignent approach to discipline and justice as at home, In Canadian law, you are legally permitted to defend yourself from attack, with limits imposed only by the reasonable limits clause. In the public school system, defending yourself is automatic suspension. The number of teachers has declined steadily, and with that, quality. It is not whining over a poor mark or having to do actual work, there are reasonable frustrations that still need to be addressed even politically.

5. They are not pets

Have you ever tried to have a real conversation with a child? It’s an amazing experience few adults ever have. Does this sound like you?

“And what did you do at school today? Really?! WOOOW! That’s terrific! Good for you! Oh, did you draw that?! It’s wonderful! Who’s a good boy? Stay there and be quiet.”

Patronizing children is a dangerous thing. It destroys any implication of respect or equality, and only serves to confuse as times goes on and things that are supposedly “wonderful” are worth 60% in the educational system. This applies across all prior points. Speak to them, they are real people — they are your peers. You would not talk to a co-worker in the fashion most speak to children, but that doesn’t mean your disrespectful to co-workers either.

Nothing is a biggest boon to a child’s confidence, sense of morality or even relief from stress than the knowledge that they are treated fairly, and as an equal human being.

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4 Comments »

  1. Your blogs are becoming increasingly insightful and awesome.

    A few things that I will add…
    Kids will occasionally do things that are wrong, without any real reason or actually thinking about it. When you ask them why they did it and they answer “I don’t know”, they literally have no idea or recollection of any thought why they did it. It’s like small children get possessed on a regular basis.

    Example:
    In some early grade, like grade 1-3 I wrote or carved “FUCK” in tiny letters on a bin of books in the classroom. I don’t know what motivated me to do it. Even AT THE TIME, I recall asking myself why I did it, and not actually recalling ever hearing or seeing the word. Luckily when people noticed and told the teacher (kids notice very small insignificant things surprisingly fast), I think I managed to blame it entirely on Cory anyway.

    On the unfair recess punishment thing…

    You know better than anyone that I did plenty of stuff at recess that I could have got into trouble for (ie. throwing garbage onto a roof every day for half the year.) However, the only time I actually got in trouble for anything was getting lines from Ms Knight for WATCHING (I wasn’t participating) in people playing some form of Mario RPG in the field. Now that I think about it, I would have liked to not done it and see what she did, if she even remembered the next day. She wasn’t my teacher and had no authority over me. Ah, to be young again.

    The only reason I would ever want to undertake the massive financial drain and conflict-ridden task of raising a kid would be to make them better than anyone elses. Take all the lessons from my own childhood, tell it to them like it is, etc.

    Comment by Dustin — February 2, 2008 @ 12:46 am

  2. I need to keep my blogs on pace with your comments. Or is it a correlation? Better make a crappy post to find out.

    You lead to an analogy: kids are little Stephen Colberts. They act with their gut, not think with their head. And it stands to reason; they’re told to trust their first instinct, and they’re often tested on things that they, for the most part, are not entirely sure of. They have to take educated guesses and basically feel it out.

    If you want to understand my hesitant speak, you can attribute it to poor results in non-thought. I have a verbal upscaler, if you will — it causes a bit of lag.

    And yes, I know of the Ms. Knight incident, and to clarify, it was us walking around, eventually gathering random followers. What they eventually started doing was hitting each other to cure “gayness” (I’m not kidding). We continued to walk while they continued to get increasingly annoying. My situation was not even watching, but rather, getting pushed down as they got out of control.

    Mr. Miller was the worst for unreason, though. It still seems absurd that he blows up that despite answering via audio clue the “Blue Danube Waltz”, that I couldn’t recall the name “Einklein Nacht Musik”. Perhaps if everyone wasn’t waiting for him to explode and leave the room as he had 80% of the time, he might have had an audience for his rants about classical music. Oh, and where was the Bach?

    Comment by zurahn — February 2, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  3. I just wanted to say you have a good, clear writing style. Interesting post too!

    As for kids ‘acting out’, you suggested that it is their first instinct at play. Some of it is that but.. much is that kids tend to focus linearly at times. In their (inherent) quest to seek and understand they do not fully consider everything involved, or all that will be affected. Due to this, they do things which are *wrong… from the view of adults. Is punishment an incorrect solution? Perhapses.. maybe not. At the same time we do not want them wrongfully punished for being kids, but they still need to learn to take a broader focus when approaching anything and weigh consequences. This is a fine line that we must use our judgment when dealing with.

    I know that for me punishment was quite common as I never had a strong interest in doing homework (I’m sure you have noticed.. lol) but being the youngest pushed it one step further. One of the most frustrating things for me was always being compaired to my academically minded middle-brother, who would be held high on a pedestal. “Your brother got A in this, this, and this so you should be able to! “. I actually found that I would not do what they wanted simply to be different from my brothers. For me school and homework had little connection, as we can learn plenty without. Least we completely ignore that I was in the group on the front of the wave of the ‘new curriculum’, where OAC would no longer exist. Half (-most) of my grade groups major tests along the way were prototypes and after huge failure rates [not from me], were discarded outright by our government. Good job Canada! Our education is high because we pretend the tests ‘Never Happened’. I actually can vividly recall at least half a dozen teachers or more proclaiming that they have no clue what they are teaching with all the changes made so they will be playing it by ear. That… was always so reassuring.

    Anyways, back to the point. What was most frustrating for me in elementary school was simply being different in some way in school where you simply wanted less cares. We moved a few times and I ended up at a new school for grade 3, my 4th school by this point. I basically had about 3-4 main friends for the next 5 years after. My grammar was poor, I guess, so they had me take these additional grammar work books home which no one else needed to do; they expected me to work on them.. ha! I hated them. I threw a text book at a teacher once over it. Students early on don’t care if it is a lot of work or less work in school just that it is the same work from student to student. Then we’re all in it together in some way.

    Good times throwing text books…

    Comment by That Other Dustin — February 2, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  4. I have an older sister who averaged 94% through High School. Like I was going to match that. Best I managed was a 93 for one semestre. Worse than being compared, though, is being treated like some sort of gifted child. I have actually been told that I, “have it easier than the other students.” If there’s more of a condescending, and complete insult to my own efforts, I cannot imagine it.

    The “new curriculum” has only gotten worse, though. There is no Level R (failure) anymore, only 1-4. There are no assignments or tests out of marks either, meaning a math test is only marked on a level for “general understanding and problem solving” and not actually just how many you did correctly. The educational system has needed an upheaval for a while, but that’s a rant for another time.

    Comment by zurahn — February 2, 2008 @ 7:47 pm


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