Friday, December 08, 2023

So Light and Sweet

When I watch a jet fly overhead, it seems to move at a leisurely pace, arching across the sky, trailing a white jet stream in its wake as if some giant hand were slowly, carefully drawing a pair of parallel chalk lines on a blue board. If I listen very carefully I might be able to hear the dull, lulling baritone hum of its engines.

If that jet were to be traveling along the road in front of my house, however, its 500 mph speed and 180 decibels of jet engine noise would be terrifying.

The sun is 109 times larger than the earth, yet if it shines in my eyes, I can block it entirely with my hand.

That cat skulking after birds across the way appears smaller than the cat in my lap.

None of this amazes us because we understand how perspective works. We weren't born with this understanding, but as our eyes and ears and intelligence has developed, as we've gained experience with moving around in the world beyond the womb, we've come to find the extraordinariness of perspective to be commonplace.

Carlos Rovelli is a theoretical physicist and philosopher has written seven books in which he riffs on the cutting edge of what we know, hope to know, and may never know about the universe. In his book White Holes, after discussing what would happen if we somehow managed to reach the horizon of a black hole, how we would perceive that time and space pretty much as they appear to us here on Earth, but that to viewers from back on terra firma it would appear that we had come to a complete stop. And if we returned from that voyage, the time that felt to us like days or weeks, would have been eons to the world we left behind. Even here on Earth, if we synchronize two watches and put one atop a mountain and leave the other at its foot, we would see that time passes more slowly at the higher altitudes.

In other words, time and space are always a matter of perspective. As is everything.

As Rovelli writes: "we have access only to perspectives. reality is perhaps nothing other than perspectives, there is no absolute, we are limited, impermanent, and precisely for this reason, to live, to be, as we do, is so light and sweet."

As adults who have young children in our lives, I hope we never lose sight of the lesson of perspectives. Too often, I think, we find ourselves absorbed in the quest to bend children's perspectives to match our own, to have them see the world "as it is," to believe as we believe, and to comprehend as we do. The opportunity we miss when we do this, is the chance to see the world from the unique perspective of new humans, which is no more or less true or accurate than our own perspective. We all know that time for a toddler passes at a different pace than for adults. It's not in the nature of the human experience to understand everything because we will never see all the perspectives, but the beauty, the lightness and sweetness comes in the trying.

"Everything is explained now," says musician Tom Waits. "We live in an age when you say casually to somebody "What's the story on that?" and they can run to the computer and tell you within five seconds. That's fine, but sometimes I'd just as soon continue wondering. We have a deficit of wonder right now."

Amen. I often find myself frustrated with the world for exactly this reason. There is something deeply dissatisfying about five second answers. From the perspective of preschoolers, however, there is no deficit of wonder. Let's not be in such a hurry to end that with our adult answers. Instead, let's seek more often to join them, to see the world as young children do, to live, to be, and to wonder.


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Ready for a book that makes you want to underline and highlight? One that makes you draw arrows and write 'THIS!!!!!' in the margin? Then you are in for a treat." ~Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., author and Early Childhood Specialist, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

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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Thursday, December 07, 2023

The Stories We Believe

William Golding's novel of schoolboys castaway on a deserted island, The Lord of the Flies, is by far the most common literary reference used to cast doubt on or disparage the kind of play-based learning for which I advocate. It just happened the other day. A new acquaintance ask me about my profession and as part of my answer, I gave a thumbnail sketch of a typical classroom. He replied with a sneer, "Have you ever heard of Lord of the Flies?"

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the boys find themselves on an uninhabited island, try to create a civil, cooperative society, but eventually find themselves falling into savagery. They are saved from themselves by the timely arrival of a rescue team from the British navy. The underlying message of the book is the grim idea that human nature is essentially evil and, if not controlled by strong institutions, like government, religion, or school, we will descend into a constant state of war against one another. 

Golding was clearly influenced by the 17th century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, whose great work The Leviathan postulated the essentially evil nature of humans. Much like Golding, Hobbes supports his thesis by imagining a hypothetical "state of nature" that would exist without civilization, then paints a picture of a world in which, as he famously put it, life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." I bring up these dead white men because their work continues to weigh heavily on our Western culture's ideas of the nature of humans. At bottom, it seems that all of our political systems are forever balanced over this fulcrum: between those of us to see humans as essentially evil, in need of control, and those of us who see humans as essentially good (see John Locke, Jean-Jacque Rousseau), in need of a world that helps them achieve their highest potential.

Here's the thing that I point out to people: The Lord of the Flies is a work of fiction. In the real world, when a group of six Tongan boys found themselves castaway on an uninhabited island for nearly a year and a half, not only did they survive, but created a small society based on friendship, cooperation, and resilience. They shared food, they figured out how to collect fresh water, they built a thatched house, made a badminton court, they fashioned themselves a guitar. And their eventual rescuer was not a representative of strong government, but rather a fisherman who at least one of the boys, to this day, loves as a father. This is the real story of castaway boys.

Likewise, Hobbes' story is a work of fiction based on a fabricated "state of nature" that has never existed. Yet his basic idea of the evilness of human nature forms the foundation of so much of our world in which militaries and police are seen as the thin line that separates us from hell on earth. But as Rousseau pointed out, if these institutions are meant to protect us from our own worst instincts, then how do you explain the history of war, slavery, colonialism, and murder that has come about in defense of civilization. In the real world, these strong institutions seem to cause us to behave like savages.

More recently, American ecologist Garrett Hardin, a contemporary disciple of Hobbes, introduced the concept of "the tragedy of the commons" into our modern discussions. He used the example of common farmland in pre-industrial Britain as an example of a paradox that encouraged farmers to over-farm the land, thus destroying it. He argued that even though every farmer might know that, for the good of all, proper stewardship of the land was essential, the very idea that others might violate the principles of stewardship in the name of profit caused all of them to abuse the common land. His point was that human nature created this paradox and that we are simply incapable of sharing anything held in common without, again, the control of authorities. "The tragedy of the commons" is regularly used as the excuse for our inability to, for instance, come to any sort of consensus on how we should, as a planet, deal with global climate change.

But again, Hardin's theory is one that seems rational on paper, like The Lord of the Flies or The Leviathan, but the real world tells a different story about human nature. Indeed, one of Hardin's students, Eleanor Ostrom, undertook a study of actual examples of existing communities confronted the the challenges of shared resources. She found that time and again, in the real world, all around the world, local communities, when allowed to manage themselves, created complex, cooperative, and sustainable ways to share their commons. The real story is, like the story of the Tongan boys, a triumph of human nature, not a tragedy.

And that's my point. I don't know if human nature is essentially good or essentially evil. It obviously can be bent to either side depending on the circumstances and the stories about human nature that we've embraced. Golding, Hobbes, and Hardin have sold us stories spun out of their own catastrophic imaginations and many of us believe them, so they tend to come true. But there are alternative stories from the real world, ones that portray our species as kind, cooperative, and willing to make agreements that benefit the community rather than a life that is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." 

As an early childhood educator, I've spent my life witnessing the real world of children who do not yet know the myths of Golding, Hobbes, and Hardin. As a play-based educator, I do not seek to control them, but rather, in the spirit of helping them achieve their highest potential, I trust their human nature and have found that when I do, a complex, cooperative, and sustainable society emerges. 

In other words, I've found that it's important to be conscious of the stories I believe. They have a habit, for better or worse, of coming true.


"Teacher Tom, our caped hero of all things righteous in the early childhood world, inspires us to be heroic in our own work with young children, and reminds us that it is the children who are the heroes of the story as they embark on adventures of discovery, wonder, democracy, and play." ~Rusty Keeler
If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 

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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Wednesday, December 06, 2023

The Art of Studying

I had never studied until I reached about 7th grade. At least I didn't think I had. Studying, I was told, involved sitting down in a "quiet spot" with "good lighting," preferably at a desk or table, and hanging your head over a book with a highlighter, drilling yourself on math equations, or memorizing scientific trivia. Teachers were expected to give us homework as an incentive to study a little bit every evening. We all knew we were getting ready for a test, which was when we would be expected to study in earnest, an anxiety producing process everyone knows as "cramming."

By the time I got to university, I had developed my own study system, which was in keeping with the advice of my academic advisors. I was up a 7 a.m. with a cup of coffee (the beginning of a lifelong habit), followed by two hours at the books before the well-lit desk in my dorm room. After classes, I headed to the science library, which was known as the quietest of the libraries at my university, where I studied until dinner. Then there was often another couple hours with classmates at the student union where we sat around tables together with our books brag-griping about how much work we had to do. I did this Monday through Wednesday, which was usually enough to feel like I was ready for my tests. This left me with my "three day weekend," which ended Sunday afternoon when I was back to the books to get a running start at my study week. I don't know how much of the subject matter I actually learned, but I had definitely mastered the art of studying as I understood it, a skill I've not used since I graduated.

Of course, now I know that I've been studying my entire life. Indeed, the stuff that I was told was called "studying" only superficially resembles the definition of the word that I use today.

I recently watched a boy who had taken an interest one of the battered toy construction vehicles that are typically scattered across our playground. It was a bulldozer sitting on a tread-mill style drive train of track chain running over rollers. He started with it on the ground, but then lifted it onto a table, putting the "wheels" at more or less eye level, for closer inspection. He drove it backward and forward slowly, head tipped in concentration on that drive mechanism. He was, in fact, making a study of it.

The goal of studying, as I've come to embrace it, is simply the pursuit of the answer to one's own question, no desk, light, or solitude required. What I did in school, in many ways, was the opposite of study, which was to take an interest in answering other people's questions, test questions, which merely required retaining information long enough to regurgitate it. As Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer puts it, "Memorizing is a strategy for taking in material that has no personal meaning."

That's not learning, of course. It's more in the nature of jumping through hoops. Real study is what this boy was doing with the bulldozer, rigorously pursuing a genuine interest, with knowledge, not test scores, as his reward. I can make a guess about what he was teaching himself through this study of a toy bulldozer, I suppose, but only he knows, only he will ever know, and in the end it's really none of my business. In fact, he probably doesn't even know what he was learning: it's too recent, too fresh. It might be years before he's able to articulate what he learned from pushing that bulldozer back and forth on a table top, because this might just be a moment in a study of a thousand small steps.

This boy wanted to know more about this machine and without retreating to a quiet place, without drilling or highlighting or tanking up on coffee, he made his study, on the spot, answering his own questions about How and What and Why?

The great John Dewey famously wrote: "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." A few days ago, I found the same boy in the same place, but this time instead of the bulldozer, he had placed an old iron on the table. He was pushing it backward and forward slowly, head tipped in concentration, making a study of it. Study is not some artificial thing we must learn to do: it is life itself.


"I recommend these books to everyone concerned with children and the future of humanity." ~Peter Gray, Ph.D. If you want to see what Dr. Gray is talking about you can find Teacher Tom's First Book and Teacher Tom's Second Book right here

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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

When Children are Disrespectful and Destructive

A couple days ago, I was tagged in a Facebook thread of teachers complaining about the behavior of their students. I only spent a few minutes scrolling through the comments, but most of them seemed to be coming from middle school teachers in public schools who were accusing the kids of being disrespectful and destructive. Some even provided photographic evidence of vandalism and general disregard for property.

"Uncaring" and "disconnected" parents seemed to be receiving most of the blame with the Covid pandemic coming in a close and intertwined second. Unaddressed mental health challenges were mentioned as a cause as was our namby-pamby society in which adults are no longer allowed to hit children to "teach them respect." In fairness, there were a few commenters who pointed their fingers at modern schooling itself, but they were few and far between. A huge percentage of these teachers asserted that they were quitting their jobs as soon as possible.

I clicked away after a minute or two, however, in part because I've been trying to remain conscious of my online scrolling behavior, but mostly because my personal focus is preschool-aged children, not middle schoolers.

Yesterday, however, as I was interviewing the wonderful Maggie Dent for Teacher Tom's Podcast (scheduled to debut in February) she made the off-hand comment, "Teenagers are preschoolers on steroids."

In preschool, we say that behavior is communication. If a preschooler behaves disrespectfully or destructively we would immediately assume that they were trying to tell us that they're sad, afraid, confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, or otherwise dysregulated, and it's our job, as the adults, to try to figure out what it is they are telling us. Their family life might well have something to do with it. For instance, it's quite common for a formerly single child to engage in selfish behavior while adjusting to a new baby at home. Maybe someone in the family has lost their job. Maybe there are marital problems. These kinds of things impact teenagers as well. 

In my experience, most troubling behaviors have their roots in something going on at home, but it would never occur to me as a preschool teacher to blame parents. 

When I think of the behavior of these young teenagers, most of whom are at an age that traditional cultures consider to be adults, I wonder if maybe they're the proverbial canaries in the coal mines. These teachers seemed to be insisting that this kind of behavior is relatively new, that it didn't used to be this way. These teachers seem to be reporting from all corners of the country. Now, granted, this Facebook thread, like all gripe-fests, is a self-selected group which is not inclusive of those who are not experiencing challenging behaviors or who feel on top of things, but this isn't the first time I've heard about rising disrespect and destructiveness. 

Maybe these children's behavior is the tip of a much larger iceberg. Maybe the disrespect and destructiveness isn't isolated to middle school classrooms. Indeed, it's quite clear that it isn't. Some days it feels as if the entire world is behaving like these middle schoolers.

Young children who behave disrespectfully, I've found, are the children who are treated disrespectfully by the adults in their lives. Young children who behave destructively, I've found, are the children who feel they have little choice in their lives, who feel trapped or caged or otherwise un-free to engage the world in personally meaningful ways.

One of the reasons I strive to stop scrolling is because too much of what I find there is disrespect, destruction and finger-pointing. It's not just middle schoolers, it's all of us. Perhaps not you or me, but our behavior as a culture is communicating, and what I hear it saying is "I am human, too!"

What I've found with preschoolers is that disrespect and destructiveness tends to disappear when I stop trying to control them and instead make the effort to listen to what their behavior is communicating. Often, all it takes is that, listening. When I listen, I understand that these children are only asking for the same thing all of us are asking for: to be allowed to pursue a life of meaning and purpose in a reasonably safe environment of respect. When we don't get that, we often respond with disrespect and destruction.

When I listen to young children, more often than not, I hear myself, and that is where understanding begins.


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Few people are better qualified to support people working in the field of early childhood education than Teacher Tom. This is a book you will want to keep close to your soul." ~Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child, and Get Over It! Relearning Guidance Practices

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, December 04, 2023

The Beet Eaters

Early on in our gardening experiment on the Woodland Park playground, we planted a crop of beets. We must have chosen the soil and the season properly, we must have watered sufficiently, because it wasn't long before we had some 40 tiny plants growing in straight rows.

One day, while gently watering our beets, a boy told me, "I hate beets."

I replied, "Some people don't like beets. Some people do. I like beets."

Another boy asked, "When do they turn into beets?"

"They're already beets," I answered, "but every day they'll get bigger and bigger until they're big enough for us to eat."

"They just look like leaves."

"You can eat the leaves, but most people want to eat the purple part. Those are the roots. They're growing underground."

"How will we know when they're ready?"

"The seed package said they take six to eight weeks."

The following day, I found the two boys squatting beside the beets, picking off the tender baby leaves and sampling them. This is the kind of behavior we expect in our playground garden: testing, tasting, and generally exploring plants. Still, they had already eaten the leaves from a dozen plants. I explained that if they eat the leaves, the plants won't grow. 

The boys remained interested in the beets, stopping by every day to water and discuss the changes they noticed. There were instances of overwatering. A few plants were damaged by errant feet and clumsy hands, but after almost a month, 20 of the original 40 were thriving.

I then was away traveling for a week. When I returned, the beet bed was empty. When I asked what had happened, I learned that one day these two boys pulled up and ate, raw, the entire beet crop. We only knew what had happened when their parents panicked over the color of their urine.

Naturally, I felt the loss that all gardeners feel when a crop is lost, be it to pests, disease, or curiosity, but at the same time, this was a playground garden at a school where children have permission to pursue their curiosity. In other words, I didn't scold the boys because there was no reason to. When I asked them how the beets had tasted, even the boy who "hates" beets told me they were delicious and that they wanted to grow more. I couldn't help, however, mentioning that if they had waited a few more weeks, the beets would have been bigger and, maybe, even better, to which they replied with shrugs.

Very few of the things we've ever planted in the playground garden have made it to what the world would consider "ripeness." Our kale rarely grows a leaf larger than my thumbnail before being devoured. Our strawberries are usually picked while still hard and green. Often they don't even make it that far, becoming instead tiny white and yellow bouquets. Other things, like cilantro and radishes, go to seed allowing us to discover that their pods were quite tasty.

Like with many things, our adult "wisdom" often amounts to little more than habits and conventions that we seek to impose on children as the "right" answers. 

But there is another metaphor in this story. Our adult wisdom also tells us that picking the leaves and pulling up the plant, even if we don't pick all the leaves or immediately plunge those roots back into the soil, the plant is liable to be stunted, if it even survives. We know that overwatering or the wrong amount of sun, will result in a plant that does not live up to its potential. The key to growing healthy plants is to start with the right soil and season, to water judiciously, to protect it from pests, but to otherwise allow the plant to grow. No amount of leaf tasting or root checking will benefit the plant, although that is often what we do to children in the name of assessment. We forget, I think, that these children, like those beet sprouts, are already fully formed and complete as they are.

We call our lifetime of experience our age, but we forget that we are born preprogrammed with all of Mother Nature's instructions, evolved over some three billion years, for growing from a single cell into a smart, learning animal. In other words, our children are born with three billion years of experience in how to grow. Our main job is to keep them safe and let them. 


"This inspiring book is essential reading for every family choosing a preschool, every teacher working with young children, and every citizen who wonders how we can raise children who will make the world a better place." ~Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here!

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, December 01, 2023


What other people say about me is none of my business.

It's a rationale that pops up for me when I feel judged by others, when I suspect or know that someone is talking about me behind my back, or, and this is probably the most frequent circumstance, when I feel insecure about the opinions of others.

The truth is that for those of us who are not Taylor Swift or Joe Biden, our fellow humans probably spend insultingly little time thinking about us, let alone judging or gossiping about us. Still, try as we might, it's almost impossible to not, at least at times, fret or wonder about the things being said about us when we're not present. And I suspect that's because, we ourselves, judge others, and at least sometimes, we express those judgments to others.

Judging and gossiping are part of being human. In his book Sapiens, historian Yuval Noah Harari relies on anthropological research to assert that not only is gossiping part of human nature, but that it is one of the key traits that allowed Homo sapiens to evolve from a middle-of-the-food-chain mammal to an apex predator. Gossip, it seems, empowers us to create social bonds, friendships, and community. 

"Social cooperation is our key for survival and reproduction," writes Harari. "It's not enough for individual men and women to know the whereabouts of lions and bison. It's much more important for them to know who in their band hates whom, who is sleeping with whom, who is honest and who is a cheat."

Given the centrality of gossip to our evolution, it might be surprising to consider that most of us, most of the time, are vehement in our disapproval of gossip. Indeed, one of the worst reputations one can have is of being an inveterate gossip. So most of us strive to keep our harshest judgements to ourselves or only express them in the strictest confidence to our best friends, managing our own behavior lest we become, in turn, the subject of judgmental gossip.

My mother used to scold us, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," a worthy aspiration, but hardly possible when gossip is such a central part of what our species is all about. 

In a study out of Japan, researchers found that even children as young as four will adjust their behaviors when presented with the possibility that an observer, even someone they don't know, might gossip about them. Children in the study shared their treats with peers, not just when others were watching, but even when they thought their behavior would be conveyed to a stranger who was not even in the room. However, when the children were assured that there would be no gossiping, they were less likely to share their treats. "These findings," the researchers write, "suggest that 4- and 8-year-old children attempt to manage their reputation when they could be a target of gossip."

Of course, what we mostly despise is malicious gossip. We tend to not object to gossip about, say, the anonymous charitable giving of a neighbor or the romantic birthday gifts exchanged between spouses. Indeed, we might not even label those things as gossip because we tend to narrow our definition of gossip to the spreading of negative or harmful stories, true or not, about others. The habitual spreading this kind of gossip, if left unchecked, has historically lead individuals to be ostracized or worse.

Gossip stands as one of the most powerful mechanisms by which human communities manage themselves. We may bridle at the idea of being controlled in this way. Likewise, most of us are likely uncomfortable with the notion that we control others, not necessarily because we gossip, but because of the possibility that we will gossip. Even very young children seem to understand this: it is part of what makes us human.

I wonder, however, if this social function of gossip is starting to wane in this era of pervasive social media (which is many ways is just a gossip column on steroids) and political leaders who seem to be immune to the feelings of shame that gossip relies upon. In fact, it seems that malicious gossip is too often rewarded. It seems that there are some who have found that gossip benefits them no matter how heinous their behavior; who thrive, indeed, on infamy. I don't know if this is a modern thing or not. I suppose there have always been those who rise to positions of power and prestige due to their reputations for cruelty and debauchery. At the same time, I wonder how much evil we've managed to avert because of the power of gossip.

When our daughter was born, I was instantly aware that I cared deeply about how she would see me. I wanted her to know me as loving, reliable, competent, and kind, even though I often hadn't behaved in those ways. This is what I mean when I say that our children make us better people. At least in my case, I managed my reputation to the point that I am, today, a much more loving, reliable, competent and kind person than I was on the day our daughter was born.  I did it for her, but also for myself.

The American culture is one in which individualism is set on a pedestal. We love the people who don't seem to give a damn what other people think . . . At least until they do or say things that make us wish they would consider the opinions of others. We admire those who blaze their own trails . . . At least until their blaze begins to scorch the earth for others. 

We want our children to grow up to be compassionate, to care for others, and a big part of that is caring about what others think and say about us. By the same token, we don't want our children to be driven by shame or to sacrifice good and unique aspects of who they are in the name of fitting in or getting along. 

This, I think, is the great dance of being human amongst humans. We are the gossiping animal. What others say about me may still be none of my business and that is often exactly the stance to take in the name of mental health, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter. 


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Ready for a book that makes you want to underline and highlight? One that makes you draw arrows and write 'THIS!!!!!' in the margin? Then you are in for a treat." ~Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., author and Early Childhood Specialist, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

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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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Four Angry Ship Builders

Charlotte said, "I'm going to build a ship," and got to work arranging the blocks.

Ships have always been a popular way for the kids to use our large wooden blocks. It's a simple build which normally involves arranging the blocks into a deck, flat on the floor. Each time Charlotte would place a block, however, one of her classmates would step on it, which frustrated her. "Hey, I'm building a ship!"

There was a lot of action in the block area and it got so she was chasing someone off her ship every few seconds, to which she responded by upping the intensity of her objections.

It didn't seem like anyone was intentionally provoking Charlotte. The situation was more a function of attempting to work on a solo project in a crowded, active area. After having been reprimanded several times by Charlotte, Henry paused for a moment to survey this corner of the rug, and in doing so he seemed to suddenly see the world from Charlotte's perspective. "I'm going to help build the ship." And with that he began arranging blocks.

Without directly acknowledging Henry, Charlotte began to chase the other kids off, still angrily, "Hey, we're building a ship!"

And Henry took on the tone as well, "Hey, we're building a ship!" Now we had two intense ship builders. 

Soon Audrey joined them, pushing large blocks into place. She said nothing, but wore a fierce, tight-jawed expression as she worked.

"Hey, we're building a ship!" "Hey, that's our ship!"

As the three angry builders made their herky jerky progress, Lilyanna, who had been dancing about the block area to the beat of some internal rhythm, and therefore largely oblivious to the builders, had as a consequence been chased off the burgeoning ship more times than I could count. As she turned a sort of pirouette on the ship deck, the builders said once more, loudly, "Hey, we're building a ship!"

Lilyanna was offended, putting her hands on her hips defiantly, commanding, "Stop!" Saying "stop" forcefully is a technique we teach the children for when someone is hurting them, frightening them, or taking their things. Some kids, however, find it so powerful that they try it out in any circumstance in which they find themselves at odds with others.

This lead to a silent stand-off, with the three builders standing face-to-face with Lilyanna, angry faces all around. Finally, Charlotte said, as if castigating the world, "This is our ship! Mine, Henry's, Audrey's and Lilyanna's!"

Then the four angry ship builders got back to work.


"Teacher Tom, our caped hero of all things righteous in the early childhood world, inspires us to be heroic in our own work with young children, and reminds us that it is the children who are the heroes of the story as they embark on adventures of discovery, wonder, democracy, and play." ~Rusty Keeler
If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 

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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