By: Tina Davidson
It’s that time of year again. Social media is filled with pictures of kids sporting new shoes and holding chalkboards to document their current grade level.
The first day of school should be a happy day for students, right?
Rarely do you see a sobbing child in a back-to-school photo (I know I cried when I started kindergarten) or belligerent photos of kids flipping off the camera (a little league softball team learned the repercussions of this the hard way).
Although not all kids appreciate having their picture taken, they all love going back to school, right?
A thumbs down picture might be as far as some moms will let their kids go in expressing their disdain for having to go back to school.
The topic of kids being able to express themselves was addressed in a book I (sorta) read during summer vacation.
The first time I busted out the book, “How Children Fail,” by John Holt, my youngest son was appalled.
“It’s just mean to write a book about how children fail.”
B. Davidson, age 8
I tried to explain that it was a book about helping kids and preventing failure.
To my dismay, I failed to finish reading it, but I did succeed in reading the book’s summary.
One section of the summary that resonated with me was a discussion the author had with teachers. Holt felt that most teachers aren’t honest about their feelings of impartiality (liking some students more than others). This creates feelings of guilt in teachers and some force fake smiles around their students.
He went on to mention that the children in these classrooms end up resenting their phony teachers and this in turn creates phony kids. **You’ll have to read the passage to get all the context.**
“As we are not honest with them, so we won’t let children be honest with us. To begin with, we require them to take part in the fiction that school is a wonderful place and that they love every minute of it. They learn early that not to like school or the teacher is verboten, not to be said, not even to be thought. ”
“How Children Fail” by John Holt, Pg. 284
Have you ever corrected your child for complaining about school?
I don’t want to encourage Eeyores (poor dear!) when it comes to school, but every kid should be free to express themselves.
Here’s a scary passage from the summary:
“It is a rare child who, anywhere in his growing up, meets even one older person with whom he can talk openly about what most interests him, concerns him, worries him.”
Looking back, I’m glad my son expressed his dislike to me about my choice in summer reading books.
Holt also has a book titled, “How Children Learn.” I should probably let my son see me reading that one too. Or at least ask him how he feels about learning.
How do you feel about all this? Need some tools to help communicate with your child or help them with school?
The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
Check out the book, “Mindset,” by Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck. I read all of this fascinating book and I’m continuing to work on my mindset.
People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Certainly they’re sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve?
Whether we are “in school” or not there is always more to learn.
Have a great school year!