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9. Hidden Messages Behind Popular Children’s Stories

x4kaajg0tmu-aaron-burdenI read the story The Gingerbread Man to children. This is a holiday book that is read during the Christmas season. 

Basically, a grandmother was hungry, made some cookies, and when she took the cookies out of the oven, a gingerbread man pops out and runs away because he doesn’t want to be eaten. The entire story is all about the gingerbread man running away from children and animals until he ”befriends” a fox by a lake. The fox cunningly invites the Gingerbread man on his back so he can take him across the lake. The Gingerbread, innocent and obviously gullible, goes on the fox’s back and gives in to the fox’s lies until he is eventually eaten.

The children find this story funny – but I found elements in this children’s book that were a disturbing:

–> First point: the Gingerbread – (yes – magically ) birthed into a living being, experiences his first moments of life in hostility where despite the Gingerbread Man wanting to live (ie: ”don’t eat me!”) people refuse his request and run after him – wanting to eat him  when the Gingerbread Man wanted to live.

–> Second point: that the Gingerbread man’s death is due to the cunning and sly deception of the fox – who at first seemed trustworthy in wanting to help the Gingerbread Man, but ended up at the last moment eating him – and in the illustration, the Gingerbread Man’s face is in fear. 

Yes it is a story – but if you look behind the words and pretty pictures, it’s really a screwed up story that makes death and deception something entertaining for the kids. The being (Gingerbread man) came into the world with the intention to live yet was immediately threatened because everyone wanted to eat him, instead of being born into a world where individuals (humans and animals) welcome and nurture him.  

Similar elements are found in real life – like a child being born in a war-torn country, or an abusive household, –once the baby born, they are threatened with real-life problems. 

So, how can a story like The Gingerbread Man be an appropriate story for the Holidays, especially Christmas – which is known as the season of ”giving” and celebrating life (of Christ)? I understand some may react to my words, and find the book funny and entertaining, but I’m the type of person who likes to look beyond the words to see what is really behind it all, and if these words/meanings support our children’s development.

I suggest we as parents/teachers/adults start analyzing the meanings behind the stories we share with our children – those ”hidden messages” we tend to overlook and see how we can instead teach and show how to support each other and life, so that we raise our children within the foundations of supporting life for all.

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7. How Not to be a Killjoy

photo-1437955010382-7b8721d5c977Killy joy: A person who spoils the enjoyment of others

In the kindergarten I work at, it is difficult for children to go outside of the box and use the classroom materials for their own exploration and creativity (unless it’s painting or drawing, but even within that there are certain rules such as not drawing on the table/easel).  The reason for this is because the materials we have are specifically designed for a child to use them a certain way. Even simple tasks like cleaning an orange press, we as teachers have these steps to show them.

When things get out of hand, meaning, when the child does not do what we asked or showed them to do, we tend to reprimand them – sometimes with a scowl, or a frown, sometimes changing our voice tonality to match the disapproval or even judging and shouting at them for what they’ve done.

But have we ever stepped back and just observed what they did? To see if whether that moment with the child was an expression of their own creativity and going outside the box?

Take for example these real situations that happened in my classroom:

  1. Two boys were washing glasses, and one of the boys decided to put water in his hair. The other boy saw how it changed the shape of the boys hair, so helped shape the hair into a style. Laughing, they played with the boy’s hair.
  2. A child sees himself in a mirror and starts dancing, doing cartwheels, watching himself perform tricks.
  3. A child (instead of washing the juicing equipment) set the equipment up in the sink in a way where when he turns on the water, the water goes through the equipment, creating a new structure for water to go into the sink. He called other children to see his invention.

How did we as teachers respond?  Basically what you would expect – a lot of no’s and stop that’s, telling what the child should do next.

When we adults/teachers see these sort of things, we tend to immediately think they are rebelling against the classroom rules, and we react, stop them, and/or tear them away from the situation. We don’t and cannot take that step back to see the natural creativity that came forth because is not within school rules and we don’t have time to look deeper. We got 20+ kids to manage! How do we even have time to look at the potentials and strengths of the child?

In creative – out of box situations like these, children are not deliberately rebelling from us/classroom rules but actually forget about the rules because they get so caught up in the moment, engaged in a new approach/way of working with something and just go for it — using the opportunity to try it out. The new moment of creation for children is more important than the old classroom rules/what they are ’suppose’’ to do, because it’s new and that process is fun for them. Though a point to mention is yes, sometimes their creations may create outflows that will disrupt the flow of the classroom environment (such as a child gets excited about what they discover and get the other children excited and classroom work is disrupted).

BUT – How many times do we as adults have an idea on something to try out/do and just go for it? Not so many… we tend to hold back and don’t go forward with things because we allow thoughts and memories of past failures limit us from just TESTING and SEEING what is possible…

I’d say, children are naturally creative in that they can make new things out of something we as adults think are used/meant for one purpose. The problem is when our way of thinking get in the way of child’s natural creativity and we become these authority figures that stop or ‘kill’’ the joy and opportunity for the child to continue exploring this new way of using the material.

I’ve been seeing these moments of creativity in children more and more when I’m around them, where they will use classroom materials in ways not meant to be used according to what we as teachers want, and — as much as I want to allow them to continue — I cannot , due to my job position, which is why I am currently trying to find ways where I can direct the child to perhaps continue this sort of exploration/creativity in another environment.

For example, I told V, this one child who placed a cup over the faucet to watch how the water came out that perhaps he can do this at home, but not here in the kindergarten. So I in a way approached it (as best I could) gently, communicating that this type of creativity may be possible in the home environment, but not here. Even writing this now, I  could have specified my approach by re-iterating the procedure on how we wash glasses in the kindergarten, and that there may be different procedures at home so ask your mom and dad if it’s ok to do this…

The problem is, with managing 20+ children in a classroom, staff members cannot actually allow children to freely express and test things out for themselves unconditionally, because they are in a confined environment with items/materials and thus rules need to be applied – however, are these rules in the best interest of children, where their mind, being and body are taken in consideration? No way! We have for CENTURIES formed our classroom rules based on our (adult-teacher) preferences, likes and wants. No where do we take the children 100% into consideration.

I say, a major change needs to take place. We need to uproot the current education system, get to understand more of the child’s mind, being and body and see how we can shape and design the future for children.

The best resources to start is studying the Parenting Series (even if you are not a parent!) and walking your own understanding of how human consciousness works through DIP Lite.

6. One Year in the Classroom

one year in the classroomIt’s been one year for me working as a teacher’s assistant in a bilingual kindergarten. When I first started, I was really thrown into the deep end — I had no prior experience to working all day with children 3-6 years old (the majority of my experience was with older children like 9+), and the assistant I replaced was well-liked by the children, so they were not so open to accepting me.

I was quite “weak” as a teacher’s assistant. For the first three months I did not know how to properly direct children, or lead children, or handle conflicts. I was quite scared of some of them, particularly the boys who did not like what I told them to do where I “kept at them” by not giving up on them, they would hit and kick me, call me names, from which I would take personally and retreat in myself. I was quite traumatized by the amount of pain I experienced with the aggressive behavior of the children, because I had never before. This then fueled a cycle of fear where whenever I would be near them and they needed to stop doing something, the courage I had was very small, fear override it, so my starting point was insecurity and the boys picked up on it, and they knew how to respond to that insecurity… so you can understand it was a tough ordeal for me.

Now, after a year of dealing with such situations, I rarely get hit at/kicked at, and if I do, I am much quicker in protecting myself and not taking it personally because I know more of the child’s background/mind and why they did that.  In a way, coming out of  all of this, I feel like I can handle anything, honestly.

This means that over time in the classroom, I grew more confident in myself, in knowing what works, knowing how things are run in the classroom, knowing the children more, and what I need to say to them, the more certain I became in how to direct them and things. This entire process took like a year, to get to where I’m at now with children, where if there is something wrong/off in the classroom, like a conflict is about to brew, or a child is not working on a material properly, I am more confident in myself on how to direct and say things. And it’s been cool to see the results of my process working with children where when I ask them of something that considers the rules of the classroom, or the environment, or the children, they do it, they (for the most part) listen to me, and if they don’t, I am more confident in being able to work with them to have them understand, or at times I let them go — it depends on the situation (in time to come I can share more specifics on how I work with children in the classroom).

I had many many many times wanted to quit and give up my job. The combination of working with children’s emotions and behaviors along with the physical labor I had to do and my own personal reactions, it was too much for me. But I knew deep down to not give up, to not quit. Yes, money was the main motivation to keep going, but I also knew that I would regret quitting because I genuinely enjoy the children and the classroom I’m in.

Now, since I am more stable working with them, a new process has opened up for me where I am trying to understand how I can work with the inner needs of children– especially the difficult ones, where I am observing their behavior and seeing within their behavior what they need that would support them in groundedness, stability and to take steps to their utmost potential. It’s been a fun process so far and am looking forward to sharing more with you on that.

Thanks for reading!

1. An Eye for an Eye

Today a situation happened where T came to J and bothered her while she was reading. Because J was bothered, she became upset and took the paper crown that T was holding and tore it up.  Obviously, T became upset.  Unfortunately I saw only the after-effect, where I could hear T crying and asked him what happened. When I asked J why did she rip up T’s paper crown she said ”because he did this..”

Another situation happened today where V called F names and F reacted by hitting V.  Even though it was a different situation than what happened to T and J, the behavior and outcome was the same: The child receiving an action they didn’t like/was unpleasant ”retaliated” immediately by hitting or doing something equally as harmful.

Therefore, today the point of ”an eye for an eye” is what I’d like to share in this post. ”An eye for an eye” comes from a Bible reference, and according to Wikipedia, it is the law of retaliation — the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree, or in softer interpretations, the victim receives the [estimated] value of the injury in compensation.

Within my 9 months working at this school what has been shown to me is that there is a tendency for children to fight back and/or retaliate equally when they are harmed in some way by another child. Not every child acts like this, of course, but this behavior is common and obvious in the classroom.

When I look at the word ‘retaliate’ what comes up in me is war, and how children, when they act out in retaliation, they fight against each other in that moment as if in war, yet they are unaware of the consequence because they act out in emotion.  In war usually the different sides want the other to experience a certain way due to the extent of emotion the other has to them, whether of anger, hate, etc — which is why they set off bombs and use weapons. However in this case I am showing that children who act out against in each in harming each for for the sake of ”getting back for what another has done to them” is just like war where for example one country is has been harmed by another country and wants to ”fight back” for the sake of what? So the other country can FEEL/EXPERIENCE what they did to another.Unfortunately by repeating this act of ”an eye for an eye,” whether as an individual or country only fuels this pattern, and no long-term solution can be found.

The other teachers and I in the classroom must repeatedly remind the children how we don’t accept and allow this ”eye for an eye”/ retaliation behavior, and we provide tips on what to do next time (ie: say STOP, or get a teacher) but it ends up going in one ear and out the other (meaning- they don’t integrate it/live in their reality and keep repeating the behavior).  Perhaps this is because it is difficult for the child to control themselves when in emotion, where it is so easy to act out and hit another/make another feel equally as bad.

For children, placing shoes in another is difficult because they are young and haven’t developed the skill yet. For us adults, with living on this planet for several years, interacting with people, being aware of what’s going on in the world, we can more easily do this, but it is a decision we must make, to practice/imagine being in the shoes of another and act in accordance to that, and some of us don’t want to step in the shoes of another for fear of realizing that what we are doing to another is not cool and we wouldn’t like it done unto us…and yet it is so much easy to remain ignorant and continue living our lives in self-interest/unawareness…

It is so easy to fight back, to yell back, to respond back in emotion, but the consequences are much worse than if we were to step back, breathe, assess the situation, and see how to direct the situation that is best for both parties.  It is challenging to do this when you are in the face of conflict where you for example are so overwhelmed in emotion you would like nothing better to do than to let that other person know and experience how you feel… just realize that if you allow yourself to ‘give into’ this desire of an ‘eye for an eye’ — acting out in self-interest in spite of another, you are actually fueling the pattern of retaliation and war not only in yourself and personal life, but your very actions also support and show that retaliation on a global scale is ok too.

What we accept and allow on a personal level is reflected on a global level. The more we allow war with each other through fights, conflicts and ‘getting back’ to each other in spite, the more we allow such things to happen on a global scale, like war between countries.

What I suggest for us as teachers, educators, parents and adults to do is to become aware of where we are spiting others, and even where we spite ourselves/go into conflict with ourselves — where we judge ourselves, hate ourselves, beat ourselves up when we don’t reach certain expectations…these patterns we exist in get influence and transfer onto our children.

So, hey everyone, let’s look out for these harmful patterns and empower ourselves to become something better by using tools of self-purification: purifying ourselves from the war and destruction within and towards each other.  We can for example identify the problems that compromise ourselves and our lives, forgive ourselves and script a new way of living.

 

Additional Info:

School of Ultimate Living – Develop Your Utmost Potential

EQAFE.com – Self Perfection Merchandise

DIP Lite – Free Self-Development/Self-Empowerment Course

Desteni.org – Extraordinary information on human consciousness