Let the Children Be
Children are our present. We all simply want an opportunity to be ourselves, especially children.
While it’s wonderful that there are young people creating tools within the current education system to help teachers and students, the bigger task at hand is meeting the needs of future generations. And this is where listening is foundational.
What if we no longer ask children, what do you want to do when you grow up? Is everything in our lives about doing? Do we have an opportunity to change these questions and therefore, our stories.
A child is often confused by these questions. Parents will either encourage a choice of a successful career or laugh if the answer is not an esteemed profession. Every child must be ‘successful’, after all, in this reality.
Do we have children so we can brag to one another about how well they are doing? Competition is planted at a young age into our psyche to be the best and win.
Children Are Our Present
Some children want to naturally please “grown-ups” and will say what they want to hear. And many hide their true feelings. Because if they answered from their hearts, they would say, I just want to be me.
I just watched The Lost Gift again, a six minute award winning film on education created by Asmakam, where a nine year old named Abeer shares his view of his life.
He shares that while his parents tell him he is a gift. He questions their words by asking, “then why don’t they let me be myself. You’re not supposed “to fix” your best gift. But to keep it carefully as it is.”
While Abeer is excited to be learn he will be a big brother soon, he fears that this sibling will become a robot like him. Spending all day studying at school and getting scolded to get good grades and work hard. “He won’t enjoy it here at all,” says the child, who asks God not to send the baby to this world. Our kids are trying to tell us something really important about their needs.
What We Need
It is up to us to listen and create healthy models of education that capture the spirits of children. When children have inner conflict, it bursts outside and gets reinforced by violent games and entertainment. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, this dis-ease is everywhere. Superficiality and pretense is unnatural and we keep creating more and more of it.
But we can do something about it. Instead of trying to fix the broken education system, we can start at home by having open dialogue, listening and being curious. If we are blessed enough to bring children into the world, we have a huge responsibility for their holistic care. And it’s not one-sided as there are many precious moments to share and grow together. It is one of our greatest opportunities to keep imagining and experimenting.
Maybe instead of the future of work, more of us focus on the future (and present) of life? And we focus more on the humane?
Imagine if we asked kids how they would like to learn. Perhaps we listen more to who they are and help guide them? Maybe we simply unleash our collective hearts and create what we need, together? Doesn’t almost everyone love to play and create?
Maria Montessori reminds us to “Let the children be free. Encourage them. Let them run outside when it is raining. Let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water. And, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet. Let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.”