Monday, March 11, 2013

SOLSC #11 Heroes - why this topic?

Two Writing TeachersSlice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC)

Be the change you wish to see in the world...
- Gandhi

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time.
I woke up this morning realizing that I should share the "why" behind our Heroes curriculum unit. Perhaps this is even more important than the details of the lessons?

We work with three year olds.  This is an age of make-believe, of fear of the "boogie man," of pretend play about "bad guys."  This is an excellent age for fairy tales and folktales, where good conquers evil - preschoolers devour these stories. 

Laura and I were working on the third quarter curriculum plans.  I knew that I wanted to delve deeper into children sharing their own stories - and add a creative arts dimension where their own stories came alive through  puppets, dioramas, and dramatic play.

Laura and I were working on the third quarter curriculum plans in December, days after the horror at Newtown. 

There had been  an uptick in the use of pretend guns by the preschoolers.  We were finding ourselves tamping down on the children - saying, "no, you can't do this."  When I find myself saying "no" frequently or tamping down on particular play, it is as if a loud bell is going off in my head - it is a signal that I need to question myself, the environment, the curriculum, everything that surrounds a child and consider changing it in some way.  I realized - these children need "power," as do all young children - some semblance of "power" in their lives, some way to be "powerful" even when you are only three years old.

I realized, too, that I needed something uplifting, something inspiring. Something that makes me feel that the world is not full of sadness, but full of possibility and hope.

I remembered an excellent article I had read on-line some time ago by Matt Langdon, entitled "We Need Pro-Hero Schools Rather Than Anti-Bully"

Here's an excerpt:

Too often we tell kids what not to do, but forget to tell them what to do. If we build a positive environment with ample examples of positive behaviours, we can change the formula.  My thinking is that building a pro-hero school is greater than building an anti-bully school.  As definition was my first concern with bullying, I owe you a definition for the word hero.  A hero is someone who takes action for the good of others despite a risk or sacrifice.  That is, when a hero sees something they know to be wrong, they do something about it.  There are ample opportunities for heroism in schools. The number one reason negative behaviours happen in school is that the student body allows it. The default response when one sees something happening that is wrong is to do nothing – to be a bystander.  The opposite of a hero is not a villain, it’s a bystander.  The goal of my work and others like me is to turn bystanders into heroes.  With a school of heroes administrators won’t have to worry about eliminating problems one by one with tailor made programs that focus on the negative. A school with a large population of heroes won’t have bullying. It won’t have vandalism. It won’t have drug issues.  It will have learning.  It will have long-lasting relationships. It will have smiles.

There you have it.  This is the "genesis" of our hero curriculum plan: to captivate preschoolers with what truly excites them, and turn it into a real positive for them as a part of our community.  We are creating a community of true heroes - brave, courageous, kind, and caring.


  1. I love all of this: your writing, your quotes, and your thinking. This also makes me think about how you are helping children to see their lives and tell their stories as heroes. What a powerful, life-changing way to think.

  2. Your children will have a better look at the world and their place in it from all your teaching.

  3. Loved reading this and couldn't help thinking of a upcoming "community building" activity at our school. Watched this video clip at a staff meeting last week. I believe we will be using it to kick off our activities. It's not really for preschoolers, but thought you might like it.

  4. Really like this angle. Anti-bullying definitely focuses on the negative. We all need to get up and move, to be a hero. Thanks for reminding me of the positive.