02 February 2007

I came across the following quote this morning and found it to be very thought-provoking.

"When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn't getting ready to live - a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, "What are you going to be?" Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, "I'm not going to be anything; I already am." We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn't a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.
How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other...adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too." - Professor T. Ripaldi

I really enjoy how this quote encourages us to totally shift our perspective on children and childhood. In our society, we play Mozart to our embryos, enroll our preschool children in enrichment classes, and spend Grade 1 preparing for post-secondary opportunities.

While I scoff at the idea of doing flashcards with infants who can't even hold their heads up yet, I recognize that I've been guilty of pushing my children into growth rather than enjoying the process of unfolding and experiencing. Now that I've had my second child and I've seen how quickly the early years spin by, I find myself relishing the moment more often than I did. I'm constantly amazed at the beauty and joy which children perceive and create.

How differently would we live life if we really respected the value of childhood, if we saw its value for the experience it provides rather than the future it leads up to?


El Cliff said...

I've always kind of thought that kids are a lot smarter than most people treat them. they say weird things not because they're stupid, but bhecause they simply haven't had time to learn specific linguistic phrases yet. I mean, anything that can pop out of a womb, with I doubt is exactly photogenic and diverse in views, be swamped with a sudden mass of new information coming from any one of their senses, and NOT just go in to cardiac arrest, is not only able to process a LOT of information in a hurry, but is also f'ing tough.

domesticvixen said...

So many credible studies have shown that the most effective (and well rounded - no lopsided brains here) method of learning is through self-guided play.

Yup - let them at the simple toys and cardboard boxes and silly imaginary friends and sandboxes and the pots and pans. Let them experiment with language by making silly sounds and singing silly songs and putting words in strange orders that they only seem to understand. Let them explore everything from that little bug on the fence (that they will watch and poke at for an hour or more) to the forested gully at the favourite picnic spot.

There have even been suggestions that exposing kids, especially in early infancy, to adult-understood concepts (like Mozart and flash cards) causes an unbalanced brain. While certain forms of intelligence may excell, many basic social and comprehensive skills are never cultured to their full potential. I wonder if this is where you get thirty-somethings still living in their parent's basement, not working but playing on a computer at all hours?

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