In the world of conference speaking, people often use the phrase ‘The Big Take Home’ or ‘The Big Take Away’, and almost any guide to public speaking will tell you that all presentations should have one. It’s a perfectly valid piece of advice and I always find it useful to decide on the main point I want people to leave with, even before I start writing a speech.
A friend and I were discussing this concept and playing around with the idea of applying it to aspects of real life - what was The Big Take Home from last night’s dinner, or this morning's trip to the shops, or even your childhood? When it came to this last category, my friend fell silent for a while to consider the question and then told me that she thought the singular over-arching message she took away from her childhood was, “Why can’t you be better?” I found this revelation heart-wrenching.
She explained that her family had had high expectations of her, so if she got 95% in a test, they wouldn’t focus on how well she’d done, they’d ask her what happened to other 5%. When her parents came to hear her singing in the church choir, they would invariably lavish praise on one of the other choristers, with the implication (to my friend at least) that they’d prefer their daughter to be more like this other child. And she had more stories like this.
My friend wasn’t maudlin about her family, she explained that she’d given up on pleasing her parents long ago, but nevertheless she gave me food for thought. It’s all too easy to imagine our children take for granted that they are loved and supported, that the big, important stuff gets through to them despite any smaller, less positive messages along the way. This may not always be the case.
My Big Take Home from the Big Take Home conversation, was that I need to communicate more readily, more clearly and more often, the precise message that I would like children to take away with them from any encounter with me. Each and every interaction, no matter how small, contributes to their bigger picture and I’m very keen to be part of the process that leads them to have a better Big Take Away from their childhood than my unfortunate friend.
Here is another in my series of articles based on conversations with children, first published in Teach Early Years magazine. In each piece, I focus on one prominent theme. For this one, it’s ANGER. My thanks to editor Mark Hayhurst 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 lesson would you like grown-ups to learn about how to treat children?
- What I want them to learn… to let the children let all the anger… learn that children… just be able to let all the angers out. (M - female)
Crumbs! This little girl was very determined to make her point, even though she struggled to find the words. It was one of those occasions when a recent event had made quite the impact, and was colouring the child’s responses. However, what she was communicating struck me as very important indeed.
So hands up everyone who made it through all those weeks of lockdown without having a single meltdown…
Thought so. You’d have to be some kind of mythical being not to have lost your rag with someone or other during these exceptionally hard times, and children can’t have escaped being in the firing line. Even though we know they are under stress too, they’ll behave in ways that really push our buttons and make it impossible for us to take that into account. Blow-ups are bound to occur, but when they do, the important thing is how we deal with the situation afterwards.
The other day I was gazing idly out of my front window when a young family walked by - mum, dad and a little girl of around two. She was holding onto her mother’s hand and happily chattering away to her as they walked down the street. It hit me suddenly and strongly: this little girl has a total disregard for the fact that she’s a child.