As we were driving home the other day Emily was chattering away. I was focusing on driving, and trying to figure out what to fix for lunch when she said, “Pretend I’m a wild child and you just found me in the woods.”
Immediately my mind flashed to several articles I had read on the subject over the years. Emily was probably thinking of Mowgli from The Jungle Book. I wish I could say at this point that I was referring to the book, but unfortunately it was the movie version she would have seen. You know, the one with that damned dancing bear. Because, obviously, Disney has nothing better to do than bastardize a perfectly good classic story of…
Uh, Christine, there’s no need to get upset over Disney, let’s get back to the story at hand, shall we?
Shut up, you!
Oh fine, where was I? Ah yes, feral children.
Did you know there are over 100 cases of feral children that have been reported? Now many of them have been dismissed as fraudulent and/or based on hearsay – at least the older ones. But recently, as recently as 2006, there was a case of a feral 6-year-old found in rather horrifying conditions.
Now I did not explain to Emily in detail how these children had become wild or feral, but it did lead to yet another discussion on the brain and how it works. Again I went back to the analogy of the neural pathways as roads and highways – upon which our thoughts and speed along.
It reminded me, however, how thin the veneer of our humanity can be. What makes us…us? Empathy, social skills, deep thought, verbal ability…all of these things are so intricately connected and woven together within the first few years of life. And for those children deprived of such basics as human interaction, love, and care, the difference between them and one of our own children is stark.
Teaching and Learning
On Saturday, driving home in the early morning from a overnight Girl Scouts event, I explained to Emily that I would be gone most of that day. “I have a class to teach at ten, and then I’m taking a class at 1pm.”
Emily looked confused, “Teaching and taking, what’s the difference?”
“Well, in one class I’m the teacher, so I’m sharing my knowledge with others, people who have come to learn from me. When I take a class, I’m learning from the teacher and I’m the student.”
“So…you only learn when you take a class?” Emily asked.
“Actually, no. I learn more every time I teach a class as well. Someone asks me a question and it makes me think, and then I want to figure out the answer so I research some more and learn more.”
It was a good discussion – one that reminded me how much I still have to learn, from every aspect of my life. Have you ever taken a class where you perhaps made a suggestion to the teacher, only to have it dismissed or ignored? I certainly have. It bothers me, because in my eyes, they are closing themselves to the possibility of learning and growing more in their little corner of knowledge…and who wants to do that? I try to be humble enough to accept that my students can and will teach me something new and innovative, no matter how deep my level of expertise.
Opening yourself to that reality makes you a better teacher. Food for thought…