“Education should be a social and human endeavor of interest to all.”
“We want to go see Ms. Maren,” was the request of three of my former preschool students. Their mother, Pat, made arrangements for the boys to visit after school. The day arrived, and the boys came through the door, gave me a hug, then selected work off the classroom shelves. Pat and I visited over a pot of tea in the kitchen alcove. I waited for the boys to come “see” me, but they worked away and didn’t say a word. Two hours passed and it was time for them to leave.
“Thank you, Ms. Maren. I love you,” each boy told me, but I felt a little like a girl who’s been taken to the prom and never asked to dance. It didn’t seem like the boys wanted to visit me at all.
The next day their father called and told me how much the boys had talked at dinner about visiting me. That is when I discovered the child’s point of view. To a child the adult in the environment and the environment are perceived as one and the same. To the boys, I was my classroom and every activity in the classroom was me.
The child’s love of the adults in his or her life extends to the surroundings that include those adults. We are given, just by being present, our children’s love and trust. Children, by nature of being human, love and trust the adults in their lives, and everything around those adults. Being at grandma’s feels a lot like being with grandma.
It is this encompassing love that allows us as parents and grandparents to be powerful teachers, even if we are unaware of children learning from us.
For those of us who choose to teach, we need to be fully aware of this magnificent gift of love the child offers us.
On summer days, the music from the neighborhood ice cream truck brings bring back memories of my childhood: long shadows in the afternoon sun, the Oklahoma blue sky filled with cotton candy cumulus clouds, the scent of the mimosa tree, the houses across the street, my father’s aqua 1958 Fiat in the driveway.
Because these memories were created by a child’s intense love of place, or the love that surrounds family, they are vivid and fresh. As an extension of the love I have for my family, these remembrances remain intact after more than fifty years.
All of us, from the driver of the ice cream truck to a neighbor a block way, create a child’s sense of place, a place where love will be directed, attention will be focused, and life will be lived.
Each of us plays a vital role, whether we are aware of it or not, in creating a child’s love of the world. The part we play in a child’s life, conscious or unconscious, large or small, should compel us to be the best we can be.