Parents as Leaders of newborn and young children is a given. Parents hold life and death powers over their children and must know that they have little choice but to care for their totally needy family as long as they are unable to care for themselves. This truth begins at conception
So parents are teachers, care givers and role models all wrapped in one (or two). And as mentioned above, certain of the learning takes place before the baby is born so conception initiates teaching and learning; avoidance is impossible.
There is no guarantee that the lessons being taught are appropriate or desirable and this holds true for the most vulnerable periods of a human’s life and that has to be pre-birth, birth and the first three to five years. This is so for obvious reasons and they all come out to be the state of helplessness.
In past papers I’ve often used the word picture “around the kitchen table.” I do so because the influence parents have being teachers and role models are uncontested. The arrow points only from parents to child. Extended family may add to the influences that play on a child’s growth and development. This is why I place max importance on a teacher’s influence on a child’s view of themselves and the people around them. The young are sponges and absorb amazing amounts of information in short periods. Here, I do not mean how to read and write, but social and how they relate to each other. How dynamic is this? MOST!In the new and strange group and environmental setting the young are vulnerable to other children and teachers; so much is different. There is much to absorb and little time to do so; also being vulnerable diminishes as we age. We learn to protect ourselves or relish new experiences, here courage is essential. Our 1stteachers have an immense opening to influence attitude and behavior; young behavior is not yet frozen, but continues to result from experiences and degrees of being vulnerable.Under the influence of parents the young do not choose role models. When with others and a teacher they begin to do the selecting of their new role models. New role models may or may not be leaders, but the young select them because they like what they experience and the person. Society cannot afford to blow the opportunity. Sy
In the post, The Space Between, I write that pre-school and grades 1st, 2ndand 3rdare the times when teachers have the greatest influence to affect a child’s behavior and view of their world. I do not intend that a teacher’s potential to influence does not continue to exist well into adulthood, but that the earlier a child is related to the greater the opportunity for them to be influenced at their core.
We must accept that the young child that comes to the beginning grades I refer to is already well formed by their parents and the stuff that takes place around the kitchen table. Regardless, the teacher still has immense (potential) influence on the child. Here I specifically do not mean the academics (reading, writing and numbers, etc.), but also their emotional, behavioral and perceptual beings. I refer here to one’s sense of membership and connection to their peers as well as their leader, the teacher.
So this paper avoids any reference to academics the teacher teaches, but to the way the teacher leads. The teacher’s behavior (not words) as a leader is no small thing, but in my opinion the most important message they convey and teach. The teacher says so much through their behavior and attitude that the influence they exude is magnified.
So it is as leader of the group that the teacher teaches what belonging and individual importance means. The behavior and words that mean inclusion, respect, regard, listening, understanding and participation all mix together creating an environment each child is influence by. A feeling of self occurs and each child experiences a change.
As leader the teacher does not set the boundaries of the classroom, but with the students participation they are created and abided by. Support of each other is established as is membership in a community. Each child is no longer a pawn to be lectured to and tethered to their adults. They know the difference and why week-ends get in their way. Sy
I need a leader——-Not to lead me, but show me———-We care for each other.
In the last paragraph of the blog on the Classroom Environment, I referred to “the space between.” So what do I mean by this?
Most people believe the teacher’s primary job is to teach subject matter beginning in pre-school through all grades that cover everything and anything from art, dance, music, writing, reading, history, geography, math, science and into the most advance and esoteric subjects. This is important, but most important? I don’t think so.
I believe and have acted on the premise that building respect and regard for each other comes first and that subject matter then comes easier because help and participation takes place naturally. It is vital to value each person as unique and that our differences are more important than our similarities. To make this come about is the job the teacher musttake on and make a total commitment to being this in what they say and do.
This is “the between” I refer to. It is, in fact, the primary space, and I argue the most important space, where the teacher as leader must beand teach. It is the place and time where leadershipand being the role modelneeds to be perceived by their students as the reality of the teacher. It is also the simple truth of our memorable teachers. They helped bring out the best of whom and what we are. It is that time and space where teaching, leading and being the role model are one and the same person.
This very special person as our teacher, leader and role model has the power and influence to assist us in growing into our potential and wanting this for all others. It cannot happen alone and all by ourselves. Also, it would be wonderful if this would take place around the kitchen table, and it may and does, but not often enough. Sadly too much of our history is carried from parents to children, to parent to children, to parent, etc. Sy
We are what we learn——What we learn may not be true——-How do we find truth?
At the beginning the foundation and philosophy I eventually built began in ignorance and blindness. I did what seemed to me to be the right thing to do simply due to events that called for a specific action. In time I began to understand and develop a pragmatic philosophy that I could and did teach others. Many, many years later when I began to work with adults, professionals and entrepreneurs and to study power did I begin to seriously know self. It was at this point that my formal education to understand people and behavior finally took off.
The factual examples and the papers to follow took place during the time I worked for the LA Bd of Ed in the 1950s. My teaching approach came almost totally from experiences drawn from my camp, children ages 3 to teens and staff. Formal education as a student at UCLA, as best I am able to remember those days, played little or no part, in how I taught.
When I began taking over 5th and 6th grade classrooms I clearly remember what we, in time, (teacher and students) achieved. It was a sense of acceptance, belonging, respect, regard, caring, support and enjoyment of each other. Always to the point week-ends for the girls and boys got in the way of being at school with their friends. Someway, somehow we became a gang, a tribe, a community.
Even parents would observe and comment on the miraculous changes in their children. “What was going on at school?” became a parent’s question. And from a principle’s view point they would ask that I not discuss my classroom approach with other teachers during breaks. And, “please,” keep my doors closed.
Most important is that academics never suffered. Reading, writing, math, science, history, geography and stuff always was front and center. Ah, but it was the space in-between that made the difference and brought out the humanity in each of us. And what the rest of the story is about. Sy
I am me, you, you———that is the best it can be————-We each must be self.