I’ve just started reading the Alfie Kohn book Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community. Having already read his thought-provoking book Unconditional Parenting, I was ready for his particular take on human interactions.
From the introductory chapter:
In particular, we need to be on the lookout for profoundly negative theories about the motives and capabilities of children, which frequently animate discussions about classroom management.
Let’s consider the hidden premises of some familiar assertions.
– If the teacher isn’t in control of the classroom, the most likely result is chaos.
– Children need to be told exactly what the adult expects of them, as well as what will happen if they don’t do what they’re told.
– You need to give positive reinforcements to a child who does something nice if you want him to keep acting that way.
– At the heart of moral education is the need to help people control their impulses. (pg2)
As a person raised by fairly normal, yet coercive, parents, I’ve given myself the task of really understanding my own motivations and beliefs about the nature of children and all humans.
I remember clearly studying in both philosophy and sociology classes that there were differences in beliefs about the basic nature of man. Is man basically good, with some failings and inconsistencies? or Is man basically evil (or self-centered) with some impulses to the good, the altruistic?
What a person believes is at the heart of humanity informs all else.
What a culture/society/government believes…can be devastating.
So there’s my thought for the day…and my quest for my life. I want to understand what my basic assumptions are about people. I want to understand how my assumptions color my interactions with my children, both as their mama and as their ‘teacher.’
On that word ‘teacher.’ I recently read (and can’t remember where to give an appropriate attribution) that within unschooling parents frequently do not see themselves as teachers…rather as ‘master learners’ and the children as apprentices. This is a definition that I like, appreciate and embrace.
I am learning all the time too. I get books from the library and/or do internet searches because I am curious. I am not a teacher so much as I am a learner on the path a little further down the road than my children are.
Sometimes they find a very interesting sub-path and they invite me to come and take a look around. In this way, they ‘teach’ me.
So, peace to you today, from the master learner and her beautiful apprentices,
Mary & the attachlings