Where I work we have a day care. Children as young as two begin coming to day care twice a weak for “child development”. Yesterday I noticed again how the teachers are constantly instructing the 2-4 year olds to “stay in line”, “don’t talk… everyone needs to be quiet”, and “let’s all hold hands”.
Now God has blessed me with an elephant’s memory from a young age and a wild ass’s contempt for authority, but bare with me. I DO remember back to as far as age three with clarity. As I watched these children being ushered around like dogs in a dog show, I remembered what I thought at that age:
“Are these people afraid they are going to lose me or something? I am almost as tall as they are… what do they have to fear? Why must I stand in line?… it is the longest path to where we are going! What does being quiet give us besides not frazzling the grey-haired woman up front? I say let us be heard. If I was running this show we would run between rooms so we could have more play time at lunch. Ouch, that hurt… stupid bully. Why is it that I have to stand in line but the social dissidents can do whatever they want? Seems like they would notice how big of a pest he is and make him sit out this one! What is it with this thing of standing up against the wall… are they going to shoot us? Alphabetical… again? That doesn’t fairly distribute the opportunity… is this not a free nation?”
Atleast it went something like that. My point is… are we not boxing our children in too early with this approach? In our attempt to create discipline and the skills to be successful are we not squashing their creativity? I am all for the emotional security that comes to children when their environment is safe, predictable, and they know the boundaries/limits of what they can do. That given though, is this method of instruction the best way?
Do we just expect free-thinking and brilliant people to cast off their command and control education, which is itself undoubtedly a result of a poor teacher to student ratio? Will this methodology continue to create world leaders that can help our nation be the big dog (yes, I am a Republican)?
The founder of VISA suggests another way … which is interesting for adult leadership and I suspect could be adapted for certain portions of child development. Keep some discipline and structure… but find a way to nuture for our good those portions of the person which in more disfunctional contexts creates inventive terrorists and serial killers. They don’t play by the rules because they were raised not to (and are crazy to boot).
Otherwise, are we not just preparing our children for working for the man?