Revised 8 AM.
I’ve been listening to elementary school teachers say, that no matter how much time they put into their work as teachers, it isn’t enough. From the very beginning, in Kindergarten, there are many troubled kids out there who aren’t interested in learning. They are damaged* from the very beginning. So these teachers can only focus on those kids who want to learn, or can at least be helped so they can learn. I understand that. Teachers are teachers. They teach. It’s what they do. They are only human and can do only what is humanly possible. There is no fault and no blame here. It’s just fact. We humans need to take care of our own selves first or we’re no good to anybody, including ourselves. We must be there for us first, develop self-love, self-respect, develop an effective support system, and maintain all of that in order to be effective in our dealings with people of any age. In order for us to be any good in any of our pursuits, all of the above must be achieved. One needs to keep it going, and it takes work.
Damaged* Five-Year-Olds; Damaged Parents?
On the other hand, I can’t help but think of those damaged 5-year-olds who are on their own, fending for themselves, and with no real support. It’s not the teachers’ fault. Parents have the responsibility to these kids, they say. But some parents have no business being parents! They aren’t equipped to handle the needs of children. I can only guess that the parents’ needs aren’t being met, either. Like I said before, if one doesn’t take care of themselves first, they are no good to anybody else. So these parents are failing, not only their kids, but themselves. They are probably damaged as well. So how much do we know about the parents? And what are they equipped to do?
Self-love and Self-Respect; Nurturing a Self-Concept
Without love, can a child learn to love themselves? Can they learn to love others without self-love? Can they develop self-respect if they don’t get the nurturing needed to develop their self-concept? If a child can’t listen, couldn’t it be because no one listens to them in those early years? How do we as children learn listening skills, workable listening skills?
I Was A Damaged Child
I’m 50-something, and I never had children of my own. But I can relate to being a child myself. I was one of those damaged children who entered kindergarten, not being able to speak clearly and not being able to listen. I didn’t understand what people were saying. I was a constant daydreamer, developing into a C student in my career as an elementary school student. It gets worse as you develop if things don’t go right from the very start. I just wasn’t a curious kid. I wasn’t interested in learning. I didn’t care about anything. I was emotionally deprived. My parents were emotionally unavailable during the most important years of my life. The teacher’s comments on report cards were ignored.
What Can Come Later for a Damaged Child
Junior high school got worse, and by high school I was in trouble. I was extremely depressed, skipped classes, and was failing most of my classes. Who makes Fs in Gym class, my dad asked at the time. The only thing my parents did right was send me to one of the best psychiatrists in our city. He was good, but he still couldn’t get through to me. I’m probably his only failure. It wasn’t his fault. I trusted no one. I was a tough problem to crack. So I ended up dropping out of high school on my 17th birthday.
I worked for a while with a career path to restaurant management. I learned to hate it because food is messy and I hate messy. So I got my GED and attended a community college. I took tests to see what job I would be interested in doing. I was interested in nothing! So I just took the required courses. I did well in English composition and enjoyed playing with words, punctuation, and expressing myself. It was then that I began keeping a journal. I had a really great American History teacher. I took music classes and did well at that. After a year of that, I transferred to a university. Me! I was on top of the world. The rest is history and can be found on LinkedIn.
Curiosity! What a Concept
Many people these days tell me how highly intelligent I am. Really, I’m no different from any other person. They say I’m very knowledgeable and ask where I went to school. Funny! In my youth, I felt like I totally lacked in smarts. Everyone else I knew back then was way above me. But now, I do feel I’ve made some gains in intelligence. I’m incredibly curious now, googling every single question that enters my mind. Each answer leads to more questions which leads to more answers, and to more questions… It’s never ending! It is incredible how intuitive Google Search is. And there are so many reputable sites and articles out there. I’ve learned what sites to trust and what to question. Through what I’ve explored, I’ve developed many interests. There’s writing, science, education, technologies, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, worldly things, … I’d also like to learn chess.
Chess. I’ve learned that chess is a great tool for teachers to help their young students develop critical and creative thinking. They become more disciplined and better thinkers. Check out First Move Chess to learn more about how the game benefits young minds. On this site, it’s targeted to 2nd and 3rd graders. But I’ve also read that many children begin playing chess by the age of 5.
Teachers Teach. How About A Second Person In The Classroom?
I’m 56! It shouldn’t take this long to get to this point! The 5-year-olds of today need attention now! But teachers are teachers, they teach! So what can be done today? I’ve been thinking about this. I’m no person of influence, so I’m in no position to implement change in the world. But I like to think of what world problems need changing and imagine the desired outcome. So, beginning with kindergarteners, what if there was a second person in the classroom? The teacher teaches, and the second person in the classroom nurtures and is a guide. I don’t know. What can you come up with?
If you were one of those kids once and are 50-something now, you look back at your youth and wonder where it went. This doesn’t have to happen to the children of today. This is the 16th year in the 21st century. We’re investing in space travel before elementary education? Military science before elementary education? Where are our priorities? In my opinion, primary and secondary school teachers are the most valuable resource we have when it comes to the future of the human race.
Something needs to change. There ought to be a second person in the classroom. Who should that person be? And what could they do? Any ideas?
Intrapersonal Intelligence. Do Parents Have This?
In closing, I’d like to tell you about Howard Gardner, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education. On bigthink.com, he talks about how there are eight different intelligences, one being intrapersonal intelligence. (I bring this up because many parents may not know themselves very well which could impact their effectiveness as parents.) Here’s what he has to say about intrapersonal intelligence:
The seventh kind of intelligence is difficult to assess, but it’s very important. It’s intrapersonal intelligence. It’s understanding yourself. If we go back a way in history and prehistory, knowledge of yourself probably wasn’t that important because people did what their parents or grandparents did whether they were hunters or fisherman or craftspeople. But nowadays especially in developed society, people lead their own lives. We follow our own careers. We often switch careers. We don’t necessarily live at home as we get older. And if you don’t have a good understanding of yourself, you are in big trouble.
To view Howard Gardner’s video and transcript, visit bigthink.com. While you’re there, you might want to check out some of his other videos on intelligence. Interesting stuff!
*Are damaged kids the result of child abuse, neglect, emotional deprivation, or all of the above? For the purposes of this article, these potential reasons are implied in this article. (This may not be the case for all “damaged” children. They may very well come from loving environments yet have other issues going on.)