Do you remember what the world looked like as a child?
I do. I remember thinking how big the world was compared to how small I was. I remember living life carefree, thinking about and doing nothing except what made me the happiest. One minute I was pretending to be a mother of 3 on the playground and the next I was in a swinging contest with my best friends. I loved meeting and interacting with new people. Differences between me and other people didn’t make things awkward or uncomfortable; instead, they didn’t matter. I was friends with the other person regardless.
Viewing the world through the lens of a child makes it a completely different place. It seems rosier and more picturesque; it looks like the perfect universe we all want it to be. Kids are born into this world without judgement or condemnation in them; these are traits that we, the older generations, hand down to them. A child would never know to judge someone by their looks or skin tone unless they were taught to do so, whether that be through parents or TV or somewhere else. These thoughts and feelings would never be there unless they were taught; how sad is that to think about?
Kids believe they are invincible. I’ve met so many children who are on top of the world every single day. They truly believe that the world is beautiful and positive. These kids wake up and can’t wait to hit the ground running because, to them, the world is full of possibilities and wonder.
However, I start to notice a change in kids’ behavior around middle school. Gone are the days of wonder and excitement. In their place now stands a time of anger and bitterness. Kids don’t see the world as a place of possibilities; instead, they now see it as a trap and use their sarcasm to hide their disappointment. They have been failed and lied to. They begin to believe that they aren’t capable of being the superhero they always dreamed up. Little girls start allowing the whispers of insecurity in, believing that they aren’t worth it. Kids grow quieter and more reserved. They change. They grow into cynical adults at a young age, and that’s a crime.
We can’t let this happen.
But how do we do this? How do we keep kids’ sparks and zest for life going? These are loaded questions that I struggle with myself. I remember losing my spark. This is something I want to divert kids from and, as a future educator, it will soon be my job. I watched a great TED Talk video about how schools need to continue to put creativity in the classrooms. Isn’t this true? As kids age, less class time is devoted to being creative. We incorrectly assume that they need to grow up and learn about the real world; what if the real world was the world we all used to dream of?
I want kids to always look at the world with childlike eyes. I want them to find wonder and creativity in every day circumstances. I want them to look at challenges and difficulties as opportunities to better themselves. I want my students to see themselves as the superhero they once were. I want them to be idealistic and (as some would say) “silly,” because they’re kids. I want my students to love each other just like they did when they were 3. I want them to look at differences and see the beauty within them.
Is this a bit idealistic? Yes, probably. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I want to be the type of person who tries everything to make life better for her students. Working at a middle school has given me many wonderful experiences, but I’ve also seen numerous lights go out in students. I want to keep that from happening as much as possible. So. Let’s infuse our kids with creativity. Let’s teach them love and acceptance. Let’s encourage them to be superheroes. Let’s show them that it’s okay to be different from the person sitting beside you.
Let’s let them live with childlike eyes.
(Image CC: Flickr.com)