Teaching and learning from preschoolers.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~Internet quote most often attributed to William Butler Yeats
So if we don't want, or even expect, obedient adults, why do we go out of our way to teach our children obedience? I'm more interested in children behaving in certain ways because they understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. People with the capacity for blind obedience are both dangerous and in danger, easy victims for those who would manipulate them. I want my child to know that she always has a choice; that choice is the space that's there to contain her conscience.
I teach 6-9 year olds and also do not have rewards and punishments in my classroom. I stick to natural consequences and clear guidelines that, like you, the children write each year and they agree to. We keep them simple and they apply to everyone, child and adult alike. It amazes me that every year I have to include new children who have been in mainstream for a bit and they have a reputation for behavioural problems and I just never see them. I certainly do not have reward and punishment displays, ladders for names to go up and down or the threat of punishments and yet, somehow, these small but growing people manage to learn how to behave and respond in appropriate ways. And if they struggle then the first course of action must be a conversation. It is also amazing to me how many times this clears up what is not obvious to them and helps them find their own way to behaving in a way that is positive for them and the community.
This is an interesting topic, Tom. I think I'm a more directive teacher than you are, although I don't believe in either punishments or rewards, but I do let children know what I expect.It isn't that I want obedient adults as an ultimate goal, for sure. Yet, I felt with my daughter and feel with my students, that sometimes following clear and respectful expectations as a small child translates to following one's own directives, to self-control and self-discipline, later on. I don't think this is coming across clearly, I will have to think it through more. A fascinating topic for discussion, though--and the best review comment I ever got, was "Teacher Kerry speaks 4-year-old!"
I am a newly graduated Primary teacher in Australia. I too try to treat each of my students as a whole person and I don't believe in rewards or punishment (although I'm not too good at doing this effectively) and want to intrinsically motivate my students/kids. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this? I try to keep the lessons interesting for them however I was wondering if there is more I can be doing.I'm not currently teaching due to being pregnant (and due in 7 weeks) but I also have a 2 year old daughter I am keen to apply all of this to.