What Would You Do If Something Like This Happened to Someone You Know?
I missed the kids when I left teaching so I decided I would go and sub at the local elementary school where I lived. One day I subbed for 4th grade.
There was a note explaining that one of the desks had been separated from all the rest and that “John sits here.” “He’s obstinate-defiant. He’s also very manipulative and will try to win you over”, she wrote. “He has a sheet to give you at the end of each unit. He gets a smiley face for cooperating and a sad face if he doesn’t. Cooperation includes not annoying you and not refusing to do the work. He is very stubborn and angry. We have a lot of problems with him. Beware!!”
In Remote Viewing this is called front loading. In psychology it’s called cognitive bias. I had just been set up so that I would view John as disruptive and hard to get along with. I was told I needed to “watch out for him” and yet he was only a 4th grader! I figured I had a few choices right now and I’d just let John be John and see what would happen.
The kids arrived from their music class and took their seats. John was cooperative, pleasant, participated and I had absolutely no problems with him. I gave him a bunch of smiley faces at the end of the day and noticed there had been a sad face from earlier, prior to me being there. I asked John, “ Why is there a sad face here?”
He looked at me and said, “ I told the teacher I want to do the work by myself. She keeps telling me I can’t do it by myself and I have to work with the aid. I asked the aid to let me work by myself and she kept telling me no, I needed to have her work with me. I got angry and tore up the paper and then the teacher had me leave the room.” He looked at me and nearly cried.
I asked, “ Did you think your teacher wasn’t listening to you?” He then began to cry and said, “ She doesn’t listen to me. She is always yelling at me and telling me I don’t know how to do it and I have to work with the aid. I want to do it by myself. I want to try and when I tell her I want to do it alone, she starts yelling at me. I’m so sad because I have the same thing at home. I live with my grandma, ’cause my mom can’t take care of me. My grandma yells at me all the time and tells me I’m bad and stupid. “I don’t want to go home and I don’t want to be here either” he confided.
Is a child who wants to do things himself and learn on his own really obstinate and defiant? Have you ever wanted to refuse someone’s help because you wanted to do it alone? John has been ostracized from the other children. He has been labelled and he is probably on medication to keep him from expressing his anger and frustration.
Before the end of the class, after the last smiley face had been placed on John’s paper, I pulled out my traveling treasure trove for the entire class to see.
“There is an object in this box. I’m going to have you close your eyes and see with your eyes closed”
I then walked the children through a short visualization I use in my workshops. I had them draw what they saw. When I opened the treasure trove and revealed the feather inside the box, the children pretty much lost their cool. There was laughter and talking, sharing and animation. The kids were alive. John showed me his drawing which looked a lot like a feather! He beamed and it totally melted my heart.
“Can you come back tomorrow and teach us? he asked. “ I like you”, he said and smiled.
“Thank you, and smiled” I wanted to say, “I like you, too” but the days of sharing those sentiments in the classroom are gone.
“Let’s see if there is something you can practice saying to your teacher so that you won’t get “in trouble” with her again tomorrow.”
We came up with a simple sentence he would share with her.
“ Mrs. Patterson, I would like to do the work alone. If I need help, I will raise my hand.”
I left feeling sad. The smile on his face and his good bye wave would be a memory and reminder of the work there is to do with children.
What happens to all the other children like John who are misunderstood, made wrong, hushed, medicated and invalidated day after day in a system that does not support the greatness of our young people?
there was a way to educate educators and parents?
What if there was a way to raise conscious awareness?