Recently, an article
was published out of Alabama about a 5 year old girl being forced to sign a contract saying that she would not commit suicide or homicide. I’d like to ignore the legal issue and simply concentrate on the questionable intent of the educators.
As an educator I want to encourage honesty and self-expression in a safe environment for my students, regardless of their age. Not only do my students learn more about themselves when they are encouraged in this way, but I also get to learn more about them. This is especially important because my teachings focus on conflict resolution through the study of martial arts. Since we only have control over ourselves, conflict resolution begins within oneself.
True self-confidence and therefore self-protection, comes from education of the self and an understanding of the world. If a child’s confidence in education is undermined, it can strip valuable information that would have helped them move confidently through their life.
Educators should not only promote learning inside the classroom, but should also help provide the security and foundation that leads to learning outside of the classroom. If students do not trust their teachers or their school, then they may begin to hide negative feelings until it’s too late to intervene.
Parents entrust educators with their child’s safety and education for a large portion of their day. If the story mentioned is true, then there was not only a breach of trust between the student and teacher, but also a missed opportunity for a teachable moment.
For the sake of discussion, let’s assume the girl drew a gun in crayon, and not just something that resembled one. Let’s also assume that she then pointed her crayon at her friend and said, ‘pew pew.’ Finally, let’s remember that this is a 5 year old girl expressing herself.
We could discuss why she drew the gun. We could discuss why she pointed a crayon at her friend like a gun, but why complicate the actual situation by introducing a potential? Why would an educator voluntarily invoke the words ‘suicide’ and ‘homicide’ to a child too young to have the emotional capacity to cope with such terms?
I am sure the intention of the school was to make sure a girl was not going to hurt anyone, but the action of the school certainly makes me question whose actions were worse: a 5 year old girl’s imagination running wild or the adults’ imagination running wild? After all, it was the adults that actually removed the young girl from school that day after she signed the contract that she couldn’t understand.
It is my contention that the adults presumed the intention of the young girl based on their own perceptions. It certainly seems that they projected their own experiences and knowledge upon her. In their attempt to protect one child from imaginary harm, the school violated the actual rights and arguably the psychological well being of a 5 year old girl.
So I ask the reader, when does the ‘cure’ become worse than the ‘fear’? Or worse, when does the ‘cure’ cause the very ‘fear’ it was meant to eradicate?
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