Friday, June 25, 2021

Magic, Fairies, and Releasing the Full Potential of Humanity


Among the many honors I've had in my life, being present as a very young child discovers soap bubbles is right up there. They are magical things that we adults have forgotten how to see. They are there, we can see them, but when we try to touch them they are gone. They appear from out of no where, reflecting the world strangely in their convex surface as they fly without wings or motors, just going where the wind takes them. Then, like fairies, they are gone.

Another of these honors is being present as very young children discover birds and dandelion seed puffs, and the sound their own voice makes in an echoey place: all of it magic and fairies.

As we grow into adulthood, we stop experiencing magic and fairies. The world becomes increasingly predictable, mundane, and tick tock. If I do this, then that happens. I've always done it like this, and it always happens like that. Parents, if they aren't too busy to drop to their knees, which is the best vantage point for discovering magic and fairies, often spend a few years in this world, but as their children grow, they once more return to their upright adult stance, reducing the magic and fairies to memories that themselves evoke memories of their own childhoods. 

But the magic is gone. The fairies are gone.

Those of us who work with young children, however, if we remember that it is our honor to simply be present, can live in this place of magic and fairies. 

Today is the final day of Teacher Tom's Play Summit, an international online gathering of tens of thousands of early childhood educators and parents. We have been listening and sharing about all sorts of things, but behind it all, there is magic and there are fairies. Presenter Akilah Richards says that adults have "colonized childhood" and in the process we have popped all the bubbles, chased away the birds, pulled the dandelions, and installed acoustic tiles. We colonize childhood when we insist that magic and fairies only live in storybooks. We colonize childhood by insisting that we know what they need to know, how they need to know it, and by when.

And we are diminished by it, all of it, children and adults alike.


Raffi Cavoukian, platinum record and Grammy-nominated troubadour best known for his evergreen hits "Baby Beluga," Bananaphone," and "Down By the Bay," is offering us a vision for a transformed world based upon his philosophy of Child Honouring. In his summit interview which goes live today, he tells us how it came to him in a vision. He talks of a world in which we prioritize the needs of young children, returning them to their proper place, not as colonized people, but free people who stand at the center of our society. He talks of a world in which we adults honor and respect our youngest citizens.
Researcher and author Peter Gray tells us that for most of human history children lived alongside adults as they worked, played, and lived their lives. This is the natural habitat in which children learn best. It is also the habitat in which adults can stay connected to the magic and fairies that we have forgotten how to see.  This is what Raffi is calling for. It is what I am calling for. It is what the children are calling for if we would only take the time to listen. 

I know that the idea of moving children back to the center of society where they belong sounds like an impossibility to many adults. We've grown so estranged from childhood that we can't imagine getting work done with children in the room. We can't envision how children will spend their days if not walled off in their care centers and preschools. We fret about all that literacy and mathematics they'll be missing out on. But most tragic, I think, is that most of us have no idea how much better our own lives would be with magic and fairies in them. It's only with children at our side that we experience the true, day-to-day, awe and wonder of it all.

I'm on board with Raffi. Please join us today: Child Honouring. It's through reconnecting with children, who in turn reconnect us to magic and fairies, that we unleash the full potential of humanity.

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Today is the final day of Teacher Tom's Play Summit. It's not too late to join us for Raffi, Suzanne Axelsson, Roberta Pucci, and Jackie Bennet. What if the whole world understood the power of trusting children with the freedom to play, to explore their world, to ask and answer their own questions? What if everyone respected their right to learn in their own way, on their own time? What if we remembered that children must have their childhoods and that means playing, and lots of it? Teacher Tom's Play Summit  is a free, online conference that takes place June 20-25. Click here to get your free pass to our incredible sessions with early childhood and parenting experts and thought leaders from around the world. Every one of these people are professionals who have placed children first. You will walk away from this event transformed, informed, challenged, and inspired to create a world that respects children and sets them free to learn and grow. Together we can, as presenter Raffi sings, "Turn this world around!"

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