Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy Moments Journal

Because I've caught myself focusing a little intensely on some negative aspects of the day at school, I've decided to help train myself. Today I started a happy moments journal, where at the end of each day of school, before I go home I will write at least 3 moments where I felt deeply happy or where I noticed something wonderful. And these are the things I will put into my pocket and take home to reflect on at the end of the work day. (I can see myself in the classroom next week, when one of those moments happens, giving it a bit more importance simply by thinking to myself "Ah, this is worthy of writing in the book at the end of the day.")

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The clumsiness of power spoils the key, and uses the pickaxe. - Tagore

How often it's happened that I go to a child, and am so excited to show them something, and when I offer the lesson and the child says "No." Worse yet, he recoils and makes a disgusted face when I kneel down to touch the material that I'm going to present. And inside of me there is a slight panic that says "You're not supposed to be rejecting this- it has been scientifically designed for you to like it!" And I have a split moment where I decide if I'm going to overrule the child ("YOU WILL SWALLOW THIS MEDICINE! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!") or smile mildly (sometimes it hurts) and say "That's ok. We'll do it at another time." It happens to me. Still. After years in the classroom, that I still wage an internal battle at certain moments when this situation comes up.

I picked up "Creative Development in the Child" and there was a passage that addressed this exactly. And it's not wishywashy about it at all.

"It is necessary that we obtain the deep felt consent of the child before doing the exercise. [] When these exercises are not done of the child's own will, they have no success, and are of no use. So the teacher must not only prepare the material but also suceed in establishing this contact. Without this spiritual contact, without the spiritual assent of the child and his eager collaboration, these exercises have no value at all. "

"The teacher may be prejudiced. She may say- What? Must I teach only what the children consent to? Where is my authority, and my dignity? We must understand however, that we can use our authority in many ways, but no one will force a child to do an exercise which he does not choose. Force will only awaken the disgust of the child towards the means of education given to him. By authority, which forces the child who is helpless, to do something we wish him to do because we are powerful, we put out a vital flame of light in the soul of the child. It then becomes impossible to make the child do these delicate exercises."

"A good teacher therefore is one who succeeds in opening the roads to furnish the child with the means he seeks, who can call down the spirit of the child. "

(Maria Montessori, Creative Development in the Child, pg 152-153)

I know that the result when I push the child is most likely going to be negative- usually the child will not repeat the lesson. Give up halfway. And usually lose interest. That's a steep price to pay. But I admit I sometimes wield the pickaxe.

It's good to be reminded why it has to go into the storage. For good.