Wednesday, April 22, 2009

i talk , therefore i am

In the middle of my summer camp, working with children between 4 to 6 years in the morning and then with 7 to 11 years in the afternoon. I find this time of the year both demanding and satifying. While i enjoy developing content for the older batches, i love the time i spend with the younger ones. The difference i discovered early on in my work with children is that the younger they are, the more open they are to a variety of learning experiences. Their reactions and responses are brilliant in their originality. And they respond out of the excitement to learn and not to appear "cool" with other peers like the older ones do!

Also, yesterday in the middle of the session with the older kids, another contrast struck me - the HUGE difference in the noise levels. As children get older, the decibel levels also increase quite drastically. So the loudest group i need to tolerate (rather badly i admit) is the 9-11 year olds. They are REALLY loud - be it when responding to what i am sharing , or asking for things or simply while talking to one another. As a teacher – I myself don’t set a great example – shouting over the children’s voices to be heard and (pointlessly) trying to establish control over the group!

This got me thinking. Why do children have such a strong need to be loud? Is this their way to cope with the clamor around them? So much so that even when in quieter spaces they are unable to recognize it and moderate their volume. Most seem to use the same volume in a group of 10 as they do in a group of 60 back in school. Overcrowded cities, packed malls, crammed classrooms, angry traffic on the roads - quite a deafening world to be raised in!

Or is it that children constantly need to speak loudly to get the attention they need from us adults around? Having to speak over the evening news, the phone calls, the orders, the reprimanding...that sure needs high volume!

Another gnawing doubt, is this their desperate attempt to get the appreciation they deserve for who they are? With over-reliance on verbal intelligence in most urban learning settings, articulation gets kids instant recognition, indulgent smiles and pats on the back. So the only way for the child to feel appreciated is probably to talk talk talk and talk LOUD!

And in this entire pandemonium, there would be a child who is unable to speak up or maybe chooses not to join the hubbub...this child, like everyone else, has the need to be acknowledged, to be appreciated, to be valued would be like the others. How does that silent (yet gifted) child cope with this reality?

So as i sit in the class, overwhelmed by the decibel levels, i struggle to create a space where observing in silence, and allowing reflection to nurture one's learning and growth is possible. Where i listen first before i speak out. And allow the child in me and those outside feel valued and appreciated without having to scream out loud.

3 comments:

Ashwadhy said...

I enjoy reading your thoughts and the never ending enlightenment that children lead us too.

Purple pitara, you have been given an award, but it does come with a tag. Do click on the link to receive your award.
http://ashwadhy.blogspot.com/2009/04/very-thoughtful-surprise-on-monday-morn.htm

neelakantan said...

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as inculcated from play group :)but phenomenal observation this one "With over-reliance on verbal intelligence in most urban learning settings, articulation gets kids instant recognition, indulgent smiles and pats on the back"

A good idea to have a meditation type "quiet time" too eh?

Vinayaga said...

I agree with you, but some of the loud talking is part of the aggressive streak that children are slowly developing to survive in cut throat competition. In the older days, children who spoke too much or spoke of things beyond their age were frowned upon. Today, a child who can talk beyond his/her age is regarded as being superior to the others and encouraged, publicly and privately. The chance for instant recognition, being branded a genius on TV shows, getting your name in the newspapers columns are some of the perks that are being associated with loud, brash and smart children. And hense we see more of them.

I have to sometimes shake my daughter physically to get her attention and tell her to lower her volume when she is excitedly speaking to me standing half a meter away. In a bigger group, that is the only volume that gets the message across to the others and it is slowly becoming the default volume !!!

P.S : This one is a gem "With over-reliance on verbal intelligence in most urban learning settings, articulation gets kids instant recognition, indulgent smiles and pats on the back."