Childism: The Little Boy

How much clarity do we really have in schools about what we are trying to achieve in early years education – its key purpose? How big a price do we pay (do our children pay) when the training of early years educators is given inadequate attention or fails to explore the very nature of childhood and how adults and children interact in the world?

I want to share a delightful and very thought-provoking piece of writing from my very good friend, Dr Sue Lyle – a teacher educator from Swansea, UK who has also worked with teachers in India. Some of my old colleagues from Shri Ram Schools remember very fondly when she and her partner and colleague, Dave Hendley came to spend a week with us in early 2012 conducting programmes on Philosophy for Children (P4C), Action Research, CASE & CAME.

Sue writes a blog under the heading – Childism, which she defines as – “Childism is when the adults’ needs are prioritized over the child’s, when adults make assumptions they know how a child should feel at any time and take steps to manipulate children’s emotion to comply with adult expectations.”

To my mind, there is no question that especially in early years education environments there is a need for a great deal more reflection, openness and candour about the ‘adult agenda’ and the ways in which our needs get prioritized over those of children. Some of the more obvious issues are rigid timetables and schedules driven by bells and adult-centric agendas.

I once saw a KG teacher ushering a whole class of children in to the washroom, all at the same time. I approached and asked, “Wow, do they all need to go at the same time?” “No, i need to make them go now, as it disturbs my lessons too much when they keep coming and going whenever they want to.” The only thing i could reply was, “Shall I do the same with all the teachers when they’re attending a training programme next week?” I kept a smile on my face throughout, but it wasn’t reciprocated!

To me, part of the problem lies in the overriding paradigm that sees school as place where the primary aim is the dispensing of knowledge, facts etc. from teacher to child. All the time that drives matters in school, then aspects of personal and inter-personal relationships between teachers and children will be treated as peripheral, woolly things of secondary importance.

Here’s Sue’s blog post. I especially urge parents of younger children and those who teach in Elementary and Primary classes to read this, to reflect on it. We need to open honest, frank discussion on such issues if we are to really back claims that modern schools are interested in the holistic development of pupils:

Sue Lyle – Childism Blog Post: The Little Boy
(Click on the link above to read)

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One Response

  1. i wonder if the website http://www.teachthought.com would make good reading and help in preparing kids for 21st century

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