Tuesday, June 02, 2020

"We Don't Want to Play With You"




"But I want to play with you."

"We don't want to play with you. You keep following us around. We need space." I recognized her mother's coaching. A year ago there had been a child who had pestered her to play all day long, day-after-day and it had been, in part, this advice about needing space that had helped to curtail it. She was trying it again.

"I just want to play with you."

"You can't because we need space." She was referring to herself and her best girlfriend.

He stood in place, looking dejected. Just then another girl entered the scene, "Can I play with you?"

"Sure . . ." she answered, then stopped, looking at the boy she had just rejected, then at her friend as if casting about for a rationale. Then she had a bright idea. "This is a game for girls only. No boys. That's why you can't play with us." It's a common enough gambit around the preschool, to evoke gender as a dividing line.

"I just want to play too."

"It's a girl game . . . " she began before being interrupted by her friend. "It's okay, he can play." She looked back and forth between the girl and boy, as if torn between the competing loyalties of friendship and fairness. "But he has to be our brother, right?"

Everyone accepted this solution and the game continued.

Who can play and who can't is among the most fraught aspects of life in preschool. As the adult, my instinct is to advocate for some version of universal inclusion, but I know that to expect this in preschool is to insist the children attempt to do something that no humans have ever succeeded in doing. There are always people who we exclude from any group in which we find ourselves: there are always lines to define who is "in" and who is "out." Sometimes they are common sense exclusions like when a room is full to capacity and the late comers must be left on the street or when an individual has history of disruptive or violent behavior. Sometimes the lines are outright arbitrary or even cruel, and meant that way. If adults are still figuring it out, and we all are, every day, then it's only natural that children must struggle with this as well. Indeed, many of our political, social, and cultural divisions are, at bottom, questions over who we will allow "in" and who we will keep "out."

The following day, the two girlfriends were once more playing together. They had "adopted" our entire menagerie of giant plastic insects and were discussing building a block home for them. The boy again approached, "Can I play with you?"

"No . . . " She had said it reflexively and was now casting about for a reason: she knew she needed a reason. Finally, she fell back on the one from the previous day, "This is only a game for girls."

"Please," he whined. He looked as if he were about to cry.

"But . . . " she began to object before halting. I don't know what stopped her, of course, but as she looked into his face as it crumpled toward tears, I can't help but think it was empathy. We all have vast experience in being rejected, even preschoolers. We've felt it and know how it must feel in others. "But . . . " she said again, trying, I think to find a way to merge her desires with his.

Then her friend said, "We just want to play with each other right now. We're two mommies with all our babies. We'll play with you later."

This brightened him up. He said, "Okay . . . I could build the castle while I'm waiting."

The girls looked at one another as if for confirmation before saying it together, enthusiastically, "Yeah!"

The girls then huddled together with their pile of plastic insects as this boy who they had included built a castle around them.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Book is back from the printers! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.


I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Monday, June 01, 2020

This is America



Saturday's protest over police brutality against black Americans was the largest I've been to in Seattle since the Women's March three years ago. I'm not good at estimating these things, but there must have been at least 10,000 people at and around Westlake Center, maybe more. I've been to a lot of protests, demonstrations, and rallies. As I approached on foot, I could tell that this one was different. The assembling crowd seemed the same as always, energetic and righteous, but the police were already positioned in lines, blocking access, wearing riot gear. I've seen protests grow tense. I've seen the police push, shove, pepper spray, and even set off explosives, but I've never seen them doing those things right from the start. They were clearly itching for a fight.


Soon the crowd began to march up 5th Avenue. I didn't know where we were going. I assumed to City Hall or the Federal Building or one of the other governmental buildings located in that part of downtown, but after several blocks, the main body turned up toward the I-5, which cuts through Seattle's downtown like a scar. Before long we had occupied two freeway overpasses, filled the adjacent streets, and people were still coming. I was against an overpass railing where I could see the front of the march start to turn onto an interstate exit ramp that had been closed to traffic. A couple of police cars tried to block their way, but it was no use. Thousands of people poured onto the southbound lanes, bringing what little traffic there was on a quarantine Saturday to a halt. Then the horns started honking in support of the marchers and we had a kind of party right there on the freeway.


What we didn't know was that back in the area of Westlake Center, the police had begun to deploy more pepper spray, explosives and other violent measures to disperse the now smaller body of protesters who remained in the city center. And those protesters responded to the police violence with violence. By the time I returned from the festivities on I-5 there were police cars on fire and the explosions were nearly non-stop. That's when I decided I'd better go home. I'm asthmatic and inhaling pepper spray and smoke could kill me.

The best selling, most widely distributed book in American history is Thomas Paine's Common Sense, published in 1776. It was one of the triggers of the American Revolution and is still in print today. Paine wrote:

When the rich plunder the poor of his rights, it becomes an example for the poor to plunder the rich of his property, for the rights of the one are as much property to him as wealth is property to the other.

I went to a peaceful protest yesterday and saw with my own eyes how the police, the protectors of the rich, went beyond anticipating violence and instead initiated it again and again. I was standing right there, for instance, when a cop, for no apparent reason, chose to pepper spray a little girl. Remaining non-violent in that moment was very hard for me and I'm a white, middle-aged, middle-class male who has not yet had my rights significantly plundered. There were certainly outside agitators involved, but the dynamics that lead to rioting and looting are as American as apple pie.


Yesterday morning I took a walk around downtown to witness the aftermath of the violence and plundering first hand. I went out expecting to be deeply depressed, but I wanted to continue to bear witness to the truth about America. Plundering of property is a direct response to the far more significant plundering by the rich and powerful. The rights and lives of my fellow citizens would always be more important than their property.


As it turns out, I wasn't the only one headed downtown. What I found were thousands of people with their brooms, dustpans, buckets and rags. They were cleaning the city up, filling dumpsters and garbage bags, scrubbing walls, sweeping up broken glass, self-organized citizenry at its best, quietly going about their business. Many of these spontaneous cleaners and caretakers were the same people who had been protesting the night before. This, of course, is America as well.


We all have a lot to talk about with our children right now. They are asking questions and we owe them the whole story. They need to know that police brutality, especially against black people, is a virus at least as bad as the coronavirus, one that has been with us far longer and one that has taken and destroyed far more lives. They must know that the rights of black people have been burned and looted by a system of white supremacy that cannot be allowed to remain standing and that while there are some good people in law enforcement, the institution of law enforcement exists to maintain an unjust status quo. They also need to know that when we protest, we are likewise self-organized citizenry at its best, and our business is not always quiet. And they must understand that in the balance of justice, the lives of our fellow citizens have more weight than the property of the wealthy.


If you think things are ugly right now, you're right. They have always been ugly. We do our children, our fellow citizens, and ourselves an injustice when we avert our attention and divert our children's. Perhaps we don't owe our kids the whole unvarnished truth, but we must also answer their questions honestly without always giving in to the temptation to whitewash. And we must teach them the biggest lesson of America: a self-organized citizenry, one that follows our conscience rather than our leaders and fear, is the only way we've ever moved forward.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Book is back from the printers! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Friday, May 29, 2020

This Process of Godlike Creation



"Teacher Tom, that tree is peeking out from behind those other trees."

He made this comment as we sat together at the top of the playground. He enjoyed making observations, usually about the most mundane things, usually rendered poetic by his use of metaphor. Indeed, most of what he said about the world around him seemed to be expressed as metaphor.

"Those clouds are folding each other."

"The lights are looking at me."

"My yellow shirt is happy on my skin."

They came so often and were so inventive I started writing them down.

"It's a day with pink music in it."

"Those kids are sideways rockets."

"Bye bye, Teacher Tom, tomorrow is where I'm going."

His habit of inventing the world anew with almost every sentence often made it difficult for him to communicate with the other children. Many stared at him blankly, making neither head nor tales of his words. Some laughed, understanding them as jokes. But every now and then a child would be struck dumb by something he said, cast, apparently into an unexpected current of thought so powerful that it interrupted whatever it was they had already been doing: the work of a poet.

Humans can hardly communicate, or even think for that matter, without the use of metaphor. It's part of how we construct our collective reality. Trees don't really peek out from behind one another, yet, in a moment of inspiration, they do for all of us. On one level, the creation of metaphor seems like an incredibly complex thing: the projection of the qualities of one domain onto another, creating an entirely new reality linking both domains. Yet at the same time, it shares a lot in common with the instinctive way children play in the physical world. When left without adult interference, children tend to quickly abandon using things the "right way" in favor of the exploration of objects by combining them with others, creating something entirely new, which is one of the foundational ideas of loose parts play. The creation of metaphor is the same phenomenon except with words and ideas instead of physical objects.

"The rain is laying a blanket on the ground."

"These pinecones are angry today."

"My shoes thought my feet were carrots."

One of the greatest joys of working with young children is to be present as they use words and ideas the "wrong" way, employing metaphor to construct knowledge and understanding. They delight us, not just with their joy, but with the sheer inventiveness, ease, and humor with which they create new meaning from this old, stale world, a place where we adults have long ago settled upon our metaphors. They surprise us out of our humdrum, showing us a new world that has, in a moment of childlike epiphany, come into existence. We take it as evidence of their genius, and it is, but it's more than that: it shows us that humans are, in fact, creators, all of us, and metaphor is a no less important building block than the atom.

There are many reasons for adults to practice listening in the presence of children. We think because we've lived more years that what we have to say is of more vital importance, that we can and should always be teaching. But much of what we do amounts to sucking oxygen from the room as we play an inadvertent demon to this process of godlike creation.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Book is back from the printers! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share
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Thursday, May 28, 2020

He Was Left Face-to-Face with His Remorse




He would sometimes forget himself in the midst of his play and occasionally, like many kids, go so far as to hit or push when things didn't go his way. There had been a time when he might have intended to hurt the other people, but by now he had learned to pull his punches, so to speak, as if regretting his actions even as he's engaged in them. In other words, he wasn't usually hurting the other children physically, even as his actions might suggest otherwise. Still, his playmates felt violated when he punched them, as well they should.

We adults did our best to stay on top of things, to sufficiently intervene, but increasingly, since actual physical injury was off the table, my focus was on turning the initial responsibility of discussing these behaviors over to the children themselves. When a dry-eyed child informs me that they have been hit, for instance, by this boy or anyone, I inquire after specifics. Then instead of marching over to correct things by scolding or "reminding," I coach up the offended party by offering ideas of what they can do or say:

"If I were you, I'd tell him that I didn't like it when he hit me."

"If I were you, I'd tell him that I'm not a poopy head and it hurt my feelings when he said it."

"If I were you, I'd tell him that I'm mad at him for taking my shovel."

The idea is to get the kids in the habit of talking to one another first; to practice resolving their own conflicts, and to try to rely upon the adults only as a last resort. I'm always there if necessary, but learning to stand up for oneself is vital and the only way one learns that is through doing it. Not only that, but for many children, especially older preschoolers with a strong social bent, hearing these things from peers is much more impactful than from an adult.

One day, a girl with whom this boy regularly played shouted at him, "You hit me. I'm not going to play with you anymore!" Then she marched off. I was not too far away, but neither of them so much as looked my direction. As he watched her walk off, I saw him fighting back tears. After a few minutes he chased after her. They were too far from me to hear what he said, but I did hear her response, "You hit me! I don't want to play with you anymore!" He dropped to the ground right there, overwhelmed with remorse in a way that never happens when we adults are involved. Sometimes we must step in, but when we do, one of the risks is that we shift attention away from where it ought to be, the hitting and its consequences, and turn it on ourselves, the authority figure stepping in to insist upon compliance. In this case, he was left face-to-face with his remorse.

I don't know if he ever apologized, but by the end of the day she had forgiven him. I know this because I saw them once more playing intimately with one another, friends again.

The metaphor that comes to mind is the one of the parent teaching her child to ride a bike. At first we help them balance, then as they start to get the feel of it, we start letting go. Sometimes they fall, but over time, with practice, they begin to ride all on their own.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Book is back from the printers! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.


I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Why Does Children's Play Enrage So Many Adults?



Back in the olden days we used to fly on jet airplanes that took us to new and exciting places to meet new and exciting people. Some of us remember the airports, places where people dashed and dawdled from jet airplane to jet airplane. What they don't tell you in your history books, however, is that most of what we did in airports during those more innocent times was wait. Can you imagine?

At least that's how it feels in these days of plague, as if air travel is something from a bygone era. Yesterday I mentioned to my sister that I needed to get my passport renewed and she asked me pointedly "Why?" And, of course, as I've noted repeatedly right here, I've very much enjoyed breathing crystal clean air that has resulted, in part, from the grounding of all those jet airplanes. Still, I'm eager for it to return, if only for the waiting.

I know it sounds strange. The waiting is the bane of the existence of most travelers, but I have come to embrace it. From the time I was a boy, I've experienced airports as places apart. Sure, the buildings might physically exist in Seoul or Frankfurt, but in another sense they are no place at all. Hailing simply from planet Earth, there are no permanent residents, we are all visitors, in transit, just passing through. I think this is what makes airports such an incredible habitat for people watching.

I consider myself a researcher. I read, of course, but most of my research is done by observing. Here on the blog, I tend to write about things I've thought and noticed in the classroom, but it nags at me that the fact of my presence, that I'm a known entity, that I'm a part of it, tends to taint my data. Young children might behave similarly wherever they are, but I'm certain that my presence impacts the behavior of adults. I suspect they are sweeter, more patient, and more attentive when they think Teacher Tom might see them, for instance, which is great for the kids, but perhaps not so much for research. In contrast, waiting around in airports creates excellent conditions for quietly observing children and adults interacting "in the wild."

One thing I've been shocked by, an observation that I've made consistently over the years everywhere I wait, is how often the sight and sound of children at play makes adults angry. I get it when a parent finally looses it and scolds their own kids, but most of the anger I've noticed is that of strangers. When children try to walk the wrong way on a moving sidewalk, the adults around them glare. When children clamber over and under waiting area seating, the adults around them glare. When children run or sing or talk excitedly, the adults around them glare. I suppose if I asked them about their glares they would complain about the noise or express their disapproval of those rotten parents who are raising such poorly behaved children, but I don't buy it. Psychologists tell us that anger is actually a secondary emotion, one that typically masks a more primal emotion like sadness or fear. So I ask myself, what it is about children playing that makes these adults experience flashes of sadness or fear?

I'm not the first to notice this phenomenon. John Holt, in his book Escape from Childhood, notes that play worker literature often recommends building high fences around places set aside for children's play specifically because the sights and sounds of it enrages so many adults. Apparently there are adults who resent the fact that children get to play while their own lives are so hard. I imagine that it's a sad feeling to think that your own days of play, of freely chosen activities, of playing Pooh Sticks with bits of paper on the luggage carousel, are long gone. I suppose that recognizing that kind of loss would make me sad as well.

And I detect fear underneath that anger as well. What if these children cannot be controlled even by the best of parents? Every generation fears that the next will somehow destroy the social order and these playing children are certainly not orderly. How dare they duck under the barriers instead of following them like mice in a maze? This is how it all begins, the end of civilization! Those kids have their parents wrapped around their little fingers. Those kids need some tough love. Control them, control them, we can't have them trying to fit their bodies into the carry-on luggage sizer!

Obviously, I'm just speculating here: we would need to perform proper psychoanalysis on these glaring adults to know for sure, but I feel confident that there is truth here. The sadness and fear is real. When children play around people who have no children in their lives, it often makes them sad, angry, and, I imagine, way deep down, a little envious. This is what comes, I think, from a world in which most adults and most children spend so much of their lives apart, separated by the modern world's hard barriers between work and school. We think it's because the adults need the children stashed away so that they can fully focus on their work, and maximizing productivity is certainly a part of it, but I suspect we also need those high fences because if most adults spent their days in the company of playing children they would soon grow aware that they too could be playing, and that would be bad for business.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Book is back from the printers! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.


I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share
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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Children are Not Fine: None of Us are Fine



We've all seen recordings of children playing in refugee camps and in war zones. In Peter Gray's book Free to Learn, he tells about the games Jewish children played even in concentration camps. They were games of survival, for the most part, like challenging one another to touch an electrified fence, but they were games and it was play. Children play with or without toys. They play with or without freedom. They play alone and together. They play when afraid. They play when they're sad. They play when they're confused.

We point to the irrepressibility of childhood play as evidence of the resilience of children, and they certainly are resilient, but we make a mistake when we point to their play as evidence that the are "fine."

Children don't play because they are fine: they play because play is how children instinctively process the world around them. I watched children who could only have been frightened and confused (because we were all frightened and confused) fly their toy airplanes into block towers over and over in the weeks after 9/11. My daughter was part of a classroom of three-year-olds who spent days playing "earthquake," yelling and ducking under tables as they had been compelled to do during a real one. Play is not evidence of joy and happiness. Play is not evidence of being fine. Their play, even under the best of circumstances, is how children attempt to answer their own questions and explore their own emotions about what is going on in their world. The only conditions under which children don't play is when they are very sick or when they are in isolation.

A child psychiatrist friend once told me that he keeps a doll house in his office because he learns far more from troubled children by playing with them than he ever can through talking alone. So yes, when young children play, they are demonstrating resilience, but they are not necessarily showing us they are fine.

Several friends have told me stories of their children's play during this time of isolation. One mother told of her five-year-old whose babies are constantly falling sick and being taken away from their mommy to the hospital. Some get better, but some die. Another tells of her sons who are chasing one another around the house pretending to have poisonous breath. Yet another has been wearing his superhero costume to violently punch throw pillows that he's named "Coronas."

Under normal circumstances, when everyone is busy facing their own personal, private, and familial travails, figuring out exactly what any individual child is processing can be a next to impossible thing to puzzle out, even for professionals. But during times like these, times when the questions, the anger, the fear, and the confusion are virtually universal, the way children use play to process their experiences becomes far more clear to us. So yes, our children are resilient. They are processing strange times, they are doing exactly what they ought to be doing, and I have no reason to believe that most of them won't one day be fine, but right now they are sad, frightened, and confused. Their play is not evidence that they are fine, it is evidence that they are doing their part in the hard work we all have to do right now.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Book is back from the printers! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.


I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share
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Monday, May 25, 2020

Throwing Myself Into It



I've been blogging here for over a decade now. If anyone wants to make a study of my growth as a teacher and writer (and I can't imagine why anyone would) the journey is all right here in the archives. I've only ever once deleted a post and that was because it was of a political nature and I realized after 24 hours that I disagreed with myself and didn't want to campaign for a bad idea. Of course, by those standards, there are dozens, if not hundreds of posts I ought to delete, especially from 2009 and 2010 when I was a less experienced preschool teacher. Looking back at those posts, I see shadows of the teacher I am today, but there was a great deal of ignorance there as well. I'm embarrassed by my hubris. I didn't understand young children, and therefore didn't always show them the respect they deserve. And as for the writing . . . Well, I'll let others be the judge, but there are some cringe-worthy moments.

I don't delete those posts (although I have published updated versions of some of them) because I want them to stand as a public record of my journey. They remind me that everyone is on a journey, their own individual journey. Those old posts are reminders to be patient with others who are, like me, finding their way. I can't hurry them along. All I can ever do is try my best to explain what I think I've discovered and hope others find it helpful.

I also value those old, awkward posts because they are a record of my having been bad and wrong. They are, for me, a living reminder of how the teacher I am today, the writer I am today, the man I am today is built upon a foundation of mistakes. And those old posts are likewise a caution that I continue to be wrong. I just don't have the perspective and experience to know it yet. The most important thing, however, is that I threw myself into blogging, a practice I've continued to this day. I do my best thinking and try to express it as clearly as I can, knowing that there will be typos, blind spots, and embarrassments.

One thing I got right at the very beginning, however, was my tag line: "Teaching and learning from preschoolers." The practice of "throwing myself" into things is one of the many things I've learned from young children.

I wrote last week about the how traditional schooling is based upon an obsession with "right" answers, usually at the expense of thinking. A corollary is that "wrong" answers, or mistakes, are to be avoided at all costs: that's the way one winds up failing, after all, the greatest of all school house sins. Whenever I find myself reluctant to throw myself into something, I always discover that it's this fear of failure that's stopping me, yet my whole life, as evidenced by this blog, is a testament to the power of being bad and wrong. The more I've studied young children at play, the more I see that right and wrong are far less important than the habit of throwing oneself into things. If you're going to be Batman, then be Batman. If you're going to explore the possibilities of paint, then don't stop until you've painted your arms up to the elbow, your forehead, and your hair. If you're going to play with a friend, then dive fully into friendship, which means throwing yourself into ugliness of conflict and bickering, as well as the joy of connection.

Of course, not all young children make a habit of throwing themselves into things. Some are inclined to hang back, to be observers before they act. I've learned from these children that it's important to take your time, to make certain that what you're doing is what you really want to do, a risk you want to take, the kind of fun you want to have. But what I've found is that most of the time these children might take longer to commit themselves, but once they have, they then throw themselves into it, giving it their all, which is the greatest hedge against failure, even if mistakes are inevitable.

I have few regrets, but those I have are all about those times when I allowed my fear of being wrong, of mistakes, of failure, to prevent me from throwing myself into it. It's almost impossible to throw yourself into anything under those conditions. I suppose I'm thinking about this right now because we've all had our lives turned upside down, and now it feels like the whole world is standing back, leaving a kind of vacuum into which almost anything could be sucked. We have a worldwide moment in which no one really knows what to do which makes it a time both of great opportunity and great peril. We can't wait for leaders to tell us what to do. I worry about much of what I hear these "leaders" proposing, especially when it comes to young children.

I've spent the last couple weeks reaching out to early childhood practitioners and thought leaders from around the world, asking questions, listening, and bickering. It's clear that we are currently in a worldwide teachable moment. I think we're ready to come together to advocate for a better future for children, not merely as a transition back to the old normal, but rather as the beginning of a true transformation. I think we're ready to step into the vacuum and make our voices heard. There is always more that is unknown than known when we look into the future and there are many failures ahead, but I'm ready now, we're ready now, I think, to throw ourselves into it. I know this call to action is vague, and I intend it as a kind of tease. But more to the point, writing this post is an exercise in summoning my own courage because I'm throwing myself into it. And I'm not alone. Stay tuned.

******

My new book, Teacher Tom's Second Bookwill be back from the printers any moment now! I'm incredibly proud of it. And if you missed it, you can also pick up a copy of Teacher Tom's First Book as well.

And finally, this is uncomfortable for me, but I earn most of my income by speaking at education conferences and running in-person workshops. I've had 95 percent of my income wiped out for the next 9 months due to everything being cancelled. I'm hustling to become a new and improved Teacher Tom. I know I'm not the only one living with economic insecurity, but if you like what you read here, please consider hitting the yellow donate button below.


I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share
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