Monday, September 04, 2006

Six-Year-Old Thinking

Yesterday I played with school books, the kind of books kids learn to read with. I arranged and rearranged them. I looked to see whether I’d read them. I thought about how I would teach with them, if I was still teaching. I remembered me back in a classroom – me as a 6-year-old, waiting to hear the secrets of everything grownups know.

I thought about how six-year-olds think about teachers.

When you’re six-years-old, teachers are superheroes.

A first grade teacher is larger than life and holds miraculous promise in a six-year-old’s eyes. First grade teachers are beautiful, know big words, and never tell lies. They’re grownups, whose work is to like me, to teach me, and to take of me. They can tell me how things work, help explore the universe, and untie and unravel the most difficult knots. Even parents listen when teachers just whisper.

I was a first grader and a first grade teacher − I know mysteries from both sides of the job.

I also know I told parents some young “teacherly” truths that I truly hope they put off to my youth and ignored. I think of the things that I said in wonder and I wonder at how much I thought I knew, didn't know, wish I knew, later learned, now I know, can't return to put to work for the kids that I loved so back then.

I would be such a great teacher now that the six-year-old I was then couldn't help but have turned out to be a better person today, if I could only go back then and help her to see what I now see about what I didn't see when I was only a six-year-old looking up into the face of a young teacher just like the young teacher I had been. I really would.

At least I got two things right when I was teaching my six-year-olds. Not one day was boring, and they knew I respected their thinking more than anyone grownup had done before me.

Truth is, I respect most six-year-olds more than most of the grown-ups I meet.

Life has a way of undoing our sense of truth, wonder, and belief.

It’s hard to find a six-year-old cynic.

−me strauss Letting me be


Trée said...

I think I smiled more when I was six. I'd like to have him back.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Trée!
I know a secret. You know it too. If you talk to him, he'll come back and talk to you. His smiles are easy to come by. I've seen them in a certain leather chair I know. :)

Trée said...

Good advice Liz. I think he lives in the heart of Kyra or at least her memories of her time with Papa.

ME Strauss said...

Gee, I would have thought that Kyra lives inside the heart of you. :)

dsnake1 said...

>>"Truth is, I respect most six-year-olds more than most of the grown-ups I meet"

How true, Liz. they have no hang-ups, they tell you just what they feel.

And I respect teachers a lot, i think theirs is a noble profession.
Regrettably, i am not one. :(

ME Strauss said...

Hi Dsnake,
For me, teachers fall into three categories . . . those I respect, those I would have respected once perhaps, and those who found their way into a job where they could live out their judgmental control fantasies -- too harsh? no not really.

Not a child should hear the words, "Shame on you." Yet I've heard teachers say them to 3 year olds. No child should be embarrassed for things he cannot control. I can't sit in a desk all day. Why do some teacher ask kids to do that?

I respect more 6-year-olds than teachers too. :)

But I know that's not what you were talking about. I just had to vent. :)

Roofy - Ruth said...

Liz, I have a 7 year old friend. She writes me little letters, she writes letters to my dogs. She just loves my Nikki, a golden retriever. She is forever sending love notes to Nikki.

She called me one day, and was a little afraid that maybe she had done something wrong, so I told her she could call me anytime.

Well, her mom went away for the weekend and she stayed with Grandpa. And got lonely, so the calls started coming at 7 a.m... and continued all day. Grandpa told her maybe she should not call so often, and as only a child could think, said "No grandpa, Rooffy, that's what she calls me, said I could call anytime. Each time she called she also made me talk to Grandpa...we do not know each other, although we do now :)
Yup 6 and 7 year olds. The wonder of it all. Love letters to friends and puppy dogs. That's what it's all about sometimes.

Here is an article this gir's 13 year old sister wrote about dogs and kids visiting seniors.

And Dogs And Seniors

ME Strauss said...

Oh Roofy,
What a wonderful story. That's what makes us all have hope for the world. People ARE made from the same stuff as stars. Small children just shine more than the rest of us do.