Children are naturally connected with each other, and tuned into each other,
often times much more than they are to teachers and other adults, but the 'divide' doesn't need to be so wide.
By consistently creating experiences that communicate genuine interest in, and respect for, our students ... we enrich our connections with them, and improve
the connections between them.
Lectures, extrinsic motivations, songs, etc.
cannot establish this all-important foundation
for a truly successful classroom.
Intentional, mutually respectful peer group discussions can.
Communication happens on so many levels ... even without words.
When words aren't consistently used and exercised, misunderstandings can arise and multiply, developing into separation and isolation.
How is authentic communication achieved? The 'soft skill' of EMPATHY is the 'glue' that creates safe, healthy and mutually respectful communication, understanding and empathy are effortlessly evoked. (Evoking empathy is quite different from trying to teach it... because, in fact, empathy can no more be taught than laughter can be taught.)
Soft skills vs hard skills: Empathy is a soft skill that is hardwired into the brain. It just needs to be evoked and exercised. (Hard skills are not hardwired into the brain; they need to be taught.)
When, with the aid of SOARR-ing questions, children's attention is re-directed to consider influences and side-effects they had not previously considered, they are generally quite open to, and fascinated by, those opportunities.
Children are naturally
curious learning machines. Their "job" is to learn about Life, which includes:
With multiple opportunities to consider and evaluate relevant challenges within the context of genuinely interesting peer group discussions, kids engage because they "get" that it matters. Lectures, with their one-sided nature, cannot have the same expanding and enriching influence.
Inclusion prevents and/or eliminates isolation. Inclusion gently, but very effectively, reverses wasted opportunities to build and strengthen community for the betterment of all.
Being included is what makes people know they matter. Knowing they matter makes it much easier to "get" that everyone matters ... not just theoretically, but in the most practical,
There is a challenging element to this factor of social skills: it must ring true, and it cannot be forced. It can, though, be evoked, activated and anchored... which is what the
KIDS' OWN WISDOM approach and
classroom ready resources are all about.
Collaboration is natural for kids. Their "play" is all about thinking together. Problem-solving together. Imagining together. Wondering and discovering together.
Kids relate to each other in ways they'll never relate to adults... and that's neither good nor bad. It's just one of those immutable facts of life.
(You remember when you were a kid, right?)
So, what do we do with that immutable fact?
We engage it to work towards
everyone's benefit and advantage.
Kids don't want to be told what to do all the time, and that lines up well with the fact that teachers and parents get tired of correcting the same behavior issues over and over.
The solution? Kids need to own their own challenges, and they need to stop being 'victims' of their circumstances.
(Again: lectures and extrinsic motivators
provide very little help, if any...)
Kids want (and need) to directly experience agency around the outcomes of their own lives. That's a healthy inclination, obviously, because it leads to their wholesome adulthood. When personal accountability + agency become active in them, through the regular exercise of their own reasoning powers, everyone benefits.
Self-regulating kids ...
every teacher's and
every parent's dream,
Kids just need to become increasingly aware of how their words and actions effect others, so they can understand that the way others treat them can be improved by improving their own words and actions.
Again, lectures are relatively useless.
On the other hand, peer group discussions, using questions that SOARR, create learning situations that arouse students' curiosity which opens them to different points of view, oftentimes resulting in self-regulated adjustments. (Linking back to the fact that
kids relate to each other
more than they do to adults.)
We all want it, and
- no matter our age -
we all deserve it.
Mutual respect is the rock solid foundation of the most constructive and productive relationships, from the classroom to the living room to the executive boardroom.
In mutually respectful relationships, everyone feels 'seen' and acknowledged. Total agreement is not a requirement, nor is it necessary for interactions to reliably result in constructive and productive outcomes.
Of course, this is where 'modeling'
because children learn with and through relationships.
Listening is only 'real' when attention is
fully present ... in other words: undivided.
No matter our age, we can all tell when we're really being listened to, and when we're not.
Real listening, as represented by the Chinese letter for 'listening,' uses ears and eyes and bodies and heart and mind.
Real listening is effortless when topics are interesting, unusual or personally relevant.
KIDS' OWN WISDOM peer group discussions are always relevant, so real listening is easily achieved by students.
What sometimes takes more practice is getting teachers to really listen - with fully present, mutually respectful,
Manners are just the "little things" that can make a big difference... and with the right kinds of questions,
(no lectures required)
kids can pretty much figure out those everyday "little things," about:
• Table manners
• Restaurant manners
• Using tissues
• Covering mouth when coughing
• Please, Thank you, Excuse me
• Playing fairly
• Waiting patiently
• Helping without being asked
• Washing hands
... and so much more!
Reading other people's
body language isn't rocket science ...
BUT building trust in ones own ability to read, and appropriately react to, other people's body language is a valuable social skill that does need to be exercised.
The KIDS' OWN WISDOM approach and
do not 'teach' various emotions that are wordlessly communicated through
people's body language.
Instead, it creates opportunities for students to realize, through spontaneous group consensus, that pretty much everyone can read body language, and they can rely upon their ability to
accurately do so.
Conscience is the universal and inborn faculty of insight that has a 'voice'
(however loud or quiet it may be)
which prompts thoughts and actions in directions that are constructively appropriate for specific situations and interactions.
Thoughtful discussions around relevant topics, and within community, help to align individuals' character with
During KIDS' OWN WISDOM
peer group discussions,
the universal (shared) nature of conscience, thereby increasing their personal certainty in
their own 'quiet' voices which
prompt them to abide by it.