Last week I wrote about encouraging children to flex their inventive muscles, and exercise their ability for creative and imaginative thought.
My point regarding the inherent fear in spontaneous action or communication has been echoed this week in news that our young people are developing anxiety around the mere act of talking to one another.
When you stop and think about it, it’s not such a great surprise. The rise of texting as the chosen method of communication has meant that our children get used to having time to consider what they want to say. The element of on-the-spot creation is removed, and replaced by the kind of editing they are used to absorbing through so many outlets of social media.
Are we losing the ability to converse?
Well I don’t think so, but there’s no disputing the fact that many young people are feeling pressure when they are called upon to put their thoughts into words, to articulate their opinions, without preparation and in the moment.
On the other hand there is the inspiring rise of young people engaging with political and environmental issues with the kind of energy that only they can apply to a cause - it puts the rest of us to shame.
So what’s going on here and do we need to be concerned?
The important thing, as ever, is to keep the conversation open. Make sure that you engage children in discourse, show interest in what they think and feel, and actually listen to what they say. It sounds obvious, but we’re all guilty of not making enough time, enough brain space, to have a proper, focussed, stimulating chat with our youngsters.
It’s usually up to us to take to lead, and as the grown-ups, we really should be interested in how the younger generation are thinking, and where they might lead is in the future.
When was the last time you asked a child a truly profound question?
Last year, the comedian Joe Lycett wrote a Guardian column in which he mentioned asking a ten year old girl, to whom he is close, “What do you think art is?” She replied, “It’s trust. If you trust something’s good, then it is.” Brilliant. As Joe says, that is exactly what art is.
Last year, Amazon released the Echo Dot Kids Edition, which is apparently more able to decipher the way that young children speak.
For some time now I’ve been pondering the effect that getting used to barking orders at our devices will have on us.
“Siri, what’s the weather like in Edinburgh?”
“Alexa, phone Dad.”
This article, discussing the value of incorporating performance into senior school, first appeared in Teach Secondary magazine.
My thanks to editor Helen Mulley for allowing reproduction, and if you want to know more, details of this and their other magazines and resources are available at:https://www.teachwire.net
What a Performance!
It’s a curious dichotomy we live with when it comes to the notion of performance, I think. On the one hand it feels like every other young person you come across is all set to win the X Factor and become the next big thing, and on the other hand we’re brought up being told that no-one really likes a show off. . . talk about mixed messages. . . where does this leave us with our attitude to performing within our school environment?
It’s impossible for us to understand - or to be more accurate, to remember - what it’s like for a baby or toddler trying to get to grips with conversation. Even if we decide to learn another tongue, we at least know what language is, we grasp the concept; our little ones are starting entirely from scratch. So how can we help them?