Monday, 3 October 2011

School Days

My son has just started school. There was much trepidation in him starting, due to the fact that his school ( like most)  is very much built on the philosophy that children need to be taught and controlled.

From the way society is going, it is clear that conditional love and fear based parenting practice isn't working. I want my children to enjoy learning. Schools can extinguish the joy a child naturally feels when learning, they either do "work" because they are addicting to pleasing their teachers and parents, because they're competing with peers, because they're going after rewards, or because they are scared of failure (and we know greatness comes from learning from mistakes right) - so traditional school doesn't follow my wishes for my children or any child for that matter.

Praise/rewards and punishment are different sides of the same coin.  Over 70 studies have shown that extrinsic motivators are not merely ineffective long term, but can be counter productive. They damage self esteem and the child's authenticity because the child becomes addicted to pleasing others.

On Friday I get a letter from his school saying he has been selected to join a special communication group where he'll learn to make eye contact, to not talk unless his turn, to make and keep friends, to have empathy etc. I do not believe that children learn these things by being taught. I don't tell my son to say thank you, I model it - and no he doesn't say thank you all the time, but when he does it is true genuine gratitude. If as soon as I gave him something, I said "say thank you" I'd take away my joy in giving and worse, I would have robbed my son of the opportunity to contemplate and feel gracious.

Children don't learn empathy from being told about it - they learn from seeing it, experiencing unconditional love.

You might ask why he has been selected - well I never said I was perfect, and these are my ideals that I need support to carry out. This is my aim and I'm getting closer.

Interesting reads:

Alfie Kohn

Naomi Aldort

Teresa Graham Brett

Robin Grille

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  1. Yep! Just had a thirty minute meeting about it, I'm grateful they take me seriously!