Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Beliefs or knowledge?

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.


I saw a clever bumper sticker the other day:

Beliefs are not a substitute for knowledge.

It made me think about how frequently I hear adults react to children's behavior in an automatic, "this is what I believe" way -

He never listens to me.
She hits everyone.
All day long, he is disrespectful.
I've said that a million times to him.
She is such a little whiner!
He is shoving kids all the time.
She never pays attention.

Yes, children's behavior is subjected to adult beliefs all the time.
We accept that our summation is true,
we are confident in our assessments.

these beliefs are fixed perspectives,
labels, really,
that get stuck on children...
and, ultimately,
these are words that do very little to encourage new behavior in the child.

Here are the verbal red flags - "always," "all day long," "all the time," "over and over again." Whenever I find myself speaking in such "global" terms, it is a clue to me that I need to slow down and look more closely at individual incidents, observe the child in play, and consider what is he/she working on right now.

Where are they developmentally? 
What do they know already? 
What are the next steps in their learning?

A preschooler's day is filled with moments - there are moments when all is well and when things are not. What is a good moment for this child? When is the child successful? Why might that be?

If you have a preschooler in your life, I hope you will throw yourself into learning more about early childhood development. I also hope you will take the time to observe them more closely, rather than rushing to a "belief."

“Believing is not the same as knowing. Believing is second-hand knowledge, whereas knowing is first-hand experience. When your action comes from a level of belief, there is fear, doubt and restlessness behind such action. When your action comes from a level of knowing, there is conviction, certainty and calm behind such action.” 
― Yogi KannaNirvana: Absolute Freedom

1 comment:

  1. That final quote is illuminating, Maureen, something to mull over more than once, right? I just had a two day coaching/mentoring PD experience last week, and these 'beliefs' were discussed, & the responses to them, to one being coached, to other teachers, etc. One sentence was helpful for response: "I hear that you 'believe'' that this is something explaining the behavior of ALL. Let's look at each one, and decide what's really the number who's doing the behavior." Now this is responding to a 'whole group' belief (THEY never turn in the work in the right place, etc.) but it connects to your one child beliefs, people trying to say something frustrating in the moment, but not thinking through what's exactly happening. Thanks, great post.