After 10 months, I am back on line. Thank you to all the people who have been asking me to share my thoughts more widely!
I am truly blessed to have two children who are my constant reflection, day in and day out. I speak of children beacuse it my profession, the thing I feel most passionate about, but in the end, any person standing before you who makes an impact on your life (everyone) is a mirror. In the recent past, I have come to accept that my daughter is my personality reflection, where my son is my soul's reflection. I say "recently" because my mirror was tarnished beyond recognition for many years and only recently were the cleaning products I needed placed within my reach. And so I begin a journey outward questioning what childhood is really for.
As children we are the whim of our parents. We adopt the belief system of our parents which is normally dictated by their parents and the society of their time. No matter when you grew up, your thought patterns became those of the adults around you. Is that truly the purpose of parenting? Is the job a of a child to come here and be filled like the empty vessel theory? I am not suggesting that every adult is a horrible parent. Information is what powers change and transcendence. Every generation of parents had at their disposal different information for different reasons. Like a pendulum, our assimilation of this information goes from extreme to extreme until it eventually reaches a balance. Sexuality is an easy example to perceive. The revolution of the 70's swung the pendulum way over to the right, liberal sided wing of sexuality, then with the coming of HIV, whoosh! out came the contraceptives and the labels once again. As we go back in history we see the same pattern of promiscuity then repression repeated over and over.
So, what does this have to do with children, you ask? This pendulum movement happens in every area of the human psyche including parenting. The empty vessel and blank slate theories gave way to traditional, I-am-the-adult-and-I-know-best-what-you-need-to-learn mentality. The socio constructivist theory developed by Loris Malaguzzi in Reggio Emilia, Italy and the Waldorf schools founded by Rudolf Steiner, both after World War II took a different approach to the concpet of childhood. In short, both philosophies see the child as a thinking, exploring human being filled with the light of curiosity. Through the use of nature, its colors, textures, ambiance, etc. children are encouraged to define the world around them. And what they see leaves us breathless! So the pendulum swings.
And now to arrive at my point. The beauty of childhood captured by Loris Malaguzzi, I believe, is still not fully developed nor understood by the society at large. We are one step closer, maybe 100 steps closer, but until we recognize that there is no "right" answer. There is no final point to arrive at when we speak of education. There is not a moment when we close the book. This implies something profound for all of us. We must learn forever. Once we leave school, we get a job where we continue to learn (hopefully). Many of us choose to begin a family. Those of you with children, can you truly say that you have learned nothing from them? If you can, I invite you clean off your mirror and see yourself clearly. Continue to learn and grow with children as your teachers.
I believe that our Earth age has little if nothing to do with who we are. I believe that we are all here to continue learning and developing. So the next time you see a child, any child, treat him with respect and accept him as he is. For me, childhood is an erroneous decription. It's very meaning condescends due to cultural beliefs that older is wiser and younger is ,well, not. I invite you to consider for a moment that each of us posseses a soul. I believe that the soul is the replication of God, the Universe, Buddha, etc. and that each of us is holy. I would protect a child as I would protect my husband or friend. I hold in my heart the belief that we are entering the era of humanhood, where we all mutually repect and learn from others--where there are no strangers, only fellow beings. As we learn, as the pendulum swings, we peel away that which no longer serves us. Beliefs drop away, like skin with a rug burn, it hurts and leaves us feeling unsteady, but that, my friends, is the basis of learning and growing. More and more children are having the opportunity to stay in the now longer. They leave the now when the adults around them make being in the now, wrong. "Why can't you move faster?" "I told you to brush your teeth!" Remember that every belief we pass on to our children is only that--a belief, not an absolute truth. So, have you appreciated a child today?
So what do you think childhood is really for? Any thoughts...