We all want the future to be bright and promising. We spend half of December wishing each other a happy new year…! I got thinking about how we can each create a better brighter future and realised that in some ways this is something every parent amongst us can do. Our children literally are the future and if we are to fashion a more productive, wiser world then we would do well to think on as to what we want to create and what we model and encourage in our offspring….
I am passionate as a parent and educator about children and childhood, and the views put forward are very much what I consider as an individual to be important. Childhood is a fluid, forming, impressionable time which can be manipulated by industry and I would add that children are somewhat ineptly educated. Not enough thought is given to what is needed in each stage of childhood to create a well balanced adult who is; stable, with no need to be attention seeking, reliant or narcissistic or power hungry. Or, an adult who is free thinking with the ability to use reason and creativity to problem solve, inquire, create, debate and think afresh. Or, an adult who has immense emotional intelligence, use empathy and language skills ( such as non violent communication) to build rapport and think of the whole above the small individual needs. Or, an adult who is self contained, happy in their own skin without the need to consume and acquire to feel real, happy and solidly functioning.
If we created tomorrow’s adults with these aspirations in mind then the adults of tomorrow would be quite different to us today. They would be “more grown up!” The world’s issues would, I am sure would be less thorny and knotty.
My belief is that these qualities – to a greater or lesser degree can be acquired by the majority of children. How?
Firstly, I believe, we are where we are right now in the west because we marginalise childhood – children can not speak up for their own needs and as such this can easily occur. We also turn it into a saccharin , managed and cellophane wrapped version of it’s natural counterpart.
In my simple view children need the following things: LOVE and lots and lots of parental attention in the early years, a stable home, good wholesome food, a humanitarian moral framework, a daily rhythm that feeds hearts, minds and bodies, growing and managed (in the early stages) socialisation, lots of time in nature to explore and to dream and create in, places to be free in as children (mid childhood on) away from the management of adults, exercise, and education that balances the development of the head, the hands and the heart.
These days it is not popular to talk about mums staying at home when their children are small. I was definitely the odd one out in my generation of educated women who decided to do this. I, have, undoubtedly, made life harder for myself returning to work and doing something new having spent all those years child rearing. It most definitely puts me at a disadvantage at what I want to do. However, it has given massive value to the two beings I have the honour to call my children. (Now, young men).Children are not meant to be herded all day long or even several days a week into creche type situations where there are lots of other little embryonic beings whose body/mind systems are also easily overwhelmed and in need of such of devoted care. No one else cares as much about the physical, moral, psychological development of the child as its two parents do. In the early years I truly believe that if a child is given the breadth of love, care, devotion and balanced activity by it’s primary carers- the parents- then one does indeed create a stable balanced adult.
I also believe that children need to be in nature more- to use their bodies and their imaginations in order to understand their world, develop physically and learn creativity and problem solving as well as develop an appreciation and awe towards our natural world. I think this is a massive issue for children raised in towns and cities. It is not a problem I have an answer to, except that perhaps if we understand it’s importance as a need ,then more would be done to create and allow children freer and more autonomous access to “Green Space Time.” Children are not meant to sit in front of flickering screens or play hide and seek amongst cars and streets. There is a desperate need for the “rewilding of childhood”.
Education has become something that is overly concerned with facts, knowledge , grades and accountability so that are our children can become functioning cogs in the economic wheel. We all need to work and earn but education goes far beyond that.
To my mind, education is about leading children through inquiry, experience and rapport across a breadth of subjects that cover the rational, the intellectual, the creative, the practical and the philosophical. These can often interlink and overlap. To think, create, converse, write and make with enthusiasm, innovation and skill is the end result of a good education. We are human beings with unique sparky minds and talents that are capable of so much. Too many of our children are turned off education, unable to think outside boxes, and have no real idea about their individual talents and passions that they could be exploring. Education is not about absorbing hundreds of facts but about the spirit of inquiry and creating positive models for dialogue, inquiry, experience, debate and problem solving which can be taken into all adult forms of work. Facts can just be absorbed along the way.
Each one of us is different and we live in diverse situations, family groupings and economic situations and cultures. I have no judgement around what different people do. But, the needs remain the same in each growing child regardless of time and place. It is up to us, as conscious functioning responsible adults to think and then decide what we can practically do and manage. For our children. No one can get it perfect, no one is perfect and sometimes those imperfections are the grist our children need to develop their own grit when faced with adversity. However, conscious and responsible parenting and educating can do much to fashion a happier future for our offspring and the world of tomorrow. Happy New Year!`