Thank you so much for your book, received it yesterday and have read a chapter or two so far. I have many questions already, everything is just so well done. Through mass-marketed media its perceived that adults take for granted the words of a child, and their hold and place in society. Your book defies that stereotype, finding the deeper meaning in education and brains of our youth. Coming from someone who wants to study child-minds and thought processes, it was very humbling and insightful reading the first beginning pages of your experience with the young Amish girl…
What is not to like about a review like this!? It’s written by a high school senior who contacted me for some “collaboration” on a writing project… her planned vocation is to become a child psychologist and her avocation is to write and publish.
I love her suggestion that I defy the stereotype that “adults take for granted the words of a child…” She definitely has a future as a writer, because that is a previously not-so-well stated mission. Maybe even an obsession. I often quote Stacia Tauscher:
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”
Children are really just little people, not so different than those we consider adults. Admittedly, they have less experience being a person than an adult, but they are no less a person. They see things with curious minds and fresh outlooks. Their observations are often insightful.
Just this week, we received new identification badges at school. They are quite formal and official looking. We wear them on a lanyard so people can be assured we belong where we are. I don’t question the need and logic. But a second grader did.
He grabbed my badge, studied it closely and looked somewhere between puzzled and horrified. “Mr. Boomsma, this isn’t right. It says you are a substitute teacher. You are a REAL teacher.”
I suppose I should have “corrected” him, but truth be told he made me feel pretty smug and really good. He also gave me a lot to think about and I ultimately decided that what he thought was probably more important than what my badge said.
One reason subs sometimes have difficulty managing a class is the students will view him or her as “not our teacher” and decide the day will be a bit of a holiday. When I teach the Substitute Teacher Course, we spend some time discussing this potential power struggle. Part of my approach is that we must establish at the beginning we are there to teach, not to babysit. Yes, things will be a little different, but it is still about teaching and learning. A substitute who establishes that at the start will have far less “classroom management” issues. In age-appropriate language, I make it clear I am not there to manage a classroom, I am there to teach and facilitate learning.
So I think it’s pretty cool that second grader thinks it’s wrong to call me a substitute. I also think it’s pretty cool that he was able to read the entire badge, including the word substitute.
Labels are certainly a necessary tool in our society, but they come at some cost. The biggest cost is the loss of true identity when we become seen only as the label.
Don’t forget. A child is a person–a smaller and less experienced one, but no less a person.