Changing Perspectives on Children

 

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At the beginning of my program, I found myself guilty for trying to place children in specific categories. This categorization of children often mislead us as teachers and does not help in reaching out to every individual child. While Patrick Ryan rejects the oversimplification of childhood, he lays out a “map” of the major bodies of thoughts using the two-dualism approach.  On the one axis he lays out opposite theories that children are either subjects or objects.  On the other axis, he uses the opposing view that childhood is a natural phenomenon Vs cultural/political construction.

 

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He suggests that one cannot categorize children in one of these theories, but in fact, he argues that they overlap and interact with each other. As a mother and educator, I tend to lean more towards the political child; meaning that children participate in the construction of their childhoods.

I agree that we must create the environment in the classroom that respects individualism and allow children to “own” their learning.  This presented a challenge for me, and I am grateful to have built the knowledge and skills in this program to be able to do so.  As educators, we need to get to know our children well to allow them to explore the world in their own ways.  I agree with Dr. Ryan that provincial or institutional curricular policies limit our views of childhood and ability to be creative.

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During the program, my views have changed and I began looking at children as individuals, understanding their individualized needs and make sure that they are met. I believe that children need to be social actors and experience things for themselves, to grow and develop belonging, well-being, engagement, and expression. Children are different and the care and education we provide needs to be individualized for each specific child. I believe that my beliefs align with Dr. Patrick Ryan’s opinion that no child can be categorized into one quadrant or one theory.

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I was getting more and more confused and started asking myself… Who am I as an educator? How do I understand and get to know the children?  How can I make students’ thinking visible? How can I capture students’ voices?  We need to react to the crisis of the missing voice!  Are we as educators really engaging the children in the process of learning and decision making? That’s when I really connected with the following quote by Benjamin Franklin:

 

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The following is a Ted Talk by Shelley Wright who is  a teacher/education blogger living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  She has a great passion in education and in helping students make the world a better place. In her video, she is trying to shift  the educators traditional way of teaching to one that is child centered, one that empowers children to be active participants in their own learning, not passive recipients of knowledge. She is actually emphasizing on the idea of looking at children as  beings and not only becomings. I found this Ted Talk  very interesting because it clearly shows  what children can achieve when they are given the opportunity to take charge of their own learning.

 

 

I see a lot of resemblance between Shelly’s Ted Talk and Clark and Moss’s (2011) view of children. I believe that we all must come to the realization that children should be seen as “skillful communicators, experts in their own lives, right holders and meaning makers” (Clark & Moss, 2011, p.6). They are also “social actors who are ‘beings’ rather than ‘becomings’ (Clark &Moss, 2011, p.8). And we, as educators, need to “listen to children more rather than assume we already know the answer” (Clark & Moss, 2011, p. 8). Children should be listened to and “engaged in the process of constructing meanings rather than being filled with knowledge” […] In addition to that, educators and caregivers  should be “looking at ‘lives lived’ rather than focusing only on knowledge gained or care received” (Clark & Moss, 2011, p.10). Therefore, in Listening to young children: The mosaics approach (2nd Ed.) in stage 1 of the mosaic approach, educators involved both parents and children in the process of gathering and sharing information. “This provided an opportunity for parents to stop and review what they thought would signify a good or bad day for their children” (Clark &Moss, 2011, p.34). When communication with the parents is present, whether via emails, written notes, phone calls or quick meetings, anything concerning the child would be easily discussed and shared. “It is not only a question of seeing the world from children’s perspectives but of acknowledging their rights to express their point of view or to remain silent” (Clark &Moss, 2011, p.9).

Listening to young children is a key element in approaches to learning which view children as active participants. In addition to listening, observation can also help educators understand the children’s lives. However, “Observation only gives an adult perspective on children’s lives” (Clark & Moss, 2011, p. 18). We need to look at children as” experts in being children” and that adults “have something to learn from children” and where children in return “can display an increasing confidence in expressing their views” (Clark & Moss, 2011, p.63).  However, at some point we need to be aware that listening can be a liberating tool but also a way of ‘listening in’ on children’s lives and an unwanted intrusion” (Clark & Moss, 2011, p.64).  Therefore, there should always be a communication between the ones involved in the learning process.

The following is a Ted Talk by a 13 year-old, Logan LaPlante, in which he describes how he wishes educators /adults to view and treat children  as experts of their own lives and beings rather than becomings.

 

Through my MPED journey, I realized that the most important voice in the learning experience, that of children,  is not heard nor appreciated. Which brought me to wonder why that is and how it can be changed…

 

References

Clark, A., & Moss, P. (2011). Listening to young children: The mosaics approach (2nd Ed.). London: National Children’s Bureau.

Logan LaPlante (2013).Hackschooling makes me happy retrieved from: https://youtu.be/h11u3vtcpaY

Shelly Wright (2013). The Power of student driven learning retrieved from: https://youtu.be/3fMC-z7K0r4

Image 1 retrieved from: http://images.8tracks.com/cover/i/000/674/156/3CjBFlN-1772.jpg?rect=355,0,1225,1225&q=98&fm=jpg&fit=max&w=1024&h=1024

Image 2 retrieved from: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FCkhI1S68wk/TybCVzXeGqI/AAAAAAAABXU/ddAk4QxV2f0/s1600/project02_guilt.jpg

Image 3 retrieved from: http://pryan2.kingsfaculty.ca/pryan/assets/File/Landsc1.jpg

Image 4 retrieved from: https://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.7cDjSWW58Oqt4CIBJXR4CwEsCS&pid=15.1

Image 5 retrieved from:  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gDfyFtZH6Zg/U5nxfva-_DI/AAAAAAAAI-o/IOT-d9cnZBk/s1600/confused-smiley.png

Image 6 quote retrieved from: http://www.golfian.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Popular-Learn-Quotes-And-Quotations-By-Benjamin-Franklin.jpg

 

 

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