I am trying to save all of my original posts–here is an older post from 2012.
The topic and post is still very relevant to my classroom today, 2017-2018.
Throughout the school year I try to read books that will help me out with my approach regarding children and their unique behaviors. I noticed a long time ago that it is easy to get stuck in a rut, it is easy to expect the best behavior from everyone and then I realized that this is just laziness. I believe that every child is 100% unique in all areas of development and to expect them all to live up to the same expectations regarding behavior is just ridiculous mixed with two parts lazy. For me reading books, articles, chapters, sentences and even quotes reminds me that every child requires a different approach concerning behavior and academics. It also helps that I was one of those kids that was a bit challenging to work with. Currently I am reading the book, In Defense of Childhood by Chris Mercogliano. In the introduction he references an older book, Huck’s Raft, A History of American Childhood by Stephen Mintz, this introduces the idea of the “Huck Finn” child and the fact that we are trying to tame that type of “inner wildness” that embodies Huck.
As I was reading this book and watching my one month old son I started to think about this idea of “inner wildness” in different terms. I think the polar opposite of Huck Finn is Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. Do I want a classroom of Huck’s or a classroom of Alex P. Keatons? For one thing, I am sure that Huck could kick Alex’s ass but Alex has the money and planning to hire a body guard. I think for me, balance is the answer. I love seeing kids getting muddy and covered in dirt. I take the class outside every chance I get. There is endless value in the process of exploration and discovery. I encourage the children in my class to ask questions- I appreciate it when children make adults explain themselves. One thing you will never hear from me is “because I said so”. When it pours, we always go down to the stream hoping there is enough water rushing over the rocks so that we can take out the kayak. Huck would approve. On the other hand, the Alex P. Keaton hand, children live in a very different world than Huck. Huck would not able to Google without an Alex showing him the basics.
So my goal is to create an atmosphere where Huck and Alex would both thrive. To create an atmosphere where children can learn, explore and discover like Huck then write a presentation and make a graph like Alex. A classroom that fosters independent thought like Huck and can articulate their thoughts like Alex. A place where children learn all the names of local plants and trees like Alex and knows the practical uses for them like Huck. And most important, I would like to create an atmosphere where Huck and Alex both realize they can help each other. It is good to know how to play along the river banks on the weekend and dress for the office afterwards. A place where Huck can teach Alex P. Keaton how to run a river and Alex P. Keaton can teach Huck how to most effectively pack for the upcoming adventure.