SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT PARENTING AND TEACHING FROM THE OTHER SIDE

image

Parents and teachers. Teachers and parents.

After each PTM (Parent-Teacher meeting) at our kindergarten, along with the class teachers, I participate in the process as the third person, trying to see and understand both sides.  According to my observations, there are several types of parents.

Some parents who  put a child in private school, expect their baby to be a genius, pushing him/her into different contests, forgetting the thing that every child needs his/her own time. The worst moment is when they start to compare their own kid with the development of others.

My observations give me the power to say that most of the children who are natural talkers (freely and constantly talk everywhere about everything), have some difficulties with drawing and writing neatly. I was among those who love to sit and do all the precise work, such as writing, reading and drawing and got all the high rewards for that. Later, step by step I excelled at speaking, and now I can’t imagine my life without talking.

An other type of parents nurture their child. They find time in their busy timetable and spend quality time with their toddlers, even coming up with their own approaches. Just recently, one father shared with us, that they brought alphabet magnets and put them on the fridge. From time to time, they ask their baby to go and bring some specific one. Isn’t it simple and incredible?! (Just thought about making some meeting parents to parents, where they will share about their approaches) Sometimes these parents send notes of gratitude or photos captured of the child taking action to teachers, making teachers feel on the ninth cloud.

image

Talking about the third type, sadly, but there are some parents who just don’t show up to PTMs, or make a visit only for a couple of minutes, having more important things to do. In such cases, I’m just always wondering, then why did you decide to give a birth to a child. A Russian proverb literally states “Job is not a wolf, it won’t run to the forest”, meaning the child won’t never be at the same age again.

Now, as I have a chance to watch this process from the other side, I have some thoughts about parenting and teaching as well.

One day, one wise woman, named Ferzine pointed out something, which felt to me just brilliant: “I don’t have students, who are in the middle. Only who already knows this or just don’t get it. And it’s not about child’s brilliance, it’s just about time parents dedicate to their children. Now they know about numbers or letters, tomorrow it will be words, then sentences and after various concepts. And this little gap now will remain till the end of school and influence the rest of their lives.”

-Lunara

WHEN PLATONIC FORM AND CHILDREN COLLIDE

image

“How do you mean?

I mean, as I was saying, that arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect, compelling the soul to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against the introduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument. You know how steadily the masters of the art repel and ridicule any one who attempts to divide absolute unity when he is calculating, and if you divide, they multiply, taking care that one shall continue one and not become lost in fractions.

That is very true.

Now, suppose a person were to say to them: O my friends, what are these wonderful numbers about which you are reasoning, in which, as you say, there is a unity such as you demand, and each unit is equal, invariable, indivisible, –what would they answer?

— Plato, Chapter 7. “The Republic”

The one thing I ponder over with endless fascination is how we learn, specifically, how we connect unknown abstract concepts to real-world objects. This is a riddle as old as the history of philosophy itself. Plato was one of the first to identify and compound this problem, many contemporary thinkers (including linguists) now think he was very, very naughty to have divorced specific objects from their ‘eidos’ or ‘essences’. In thought, at the very least 😉

The example traditionally dished out to explain theory of universals and particulars in every Philosophy 101 class typically goes something like this:

Platonic form can be illustrated by contrasting a material triangle with an ideal triangle. The Platonic form is the ideal triangle — a figure with perfectly drawn lines whose angles add to 180 degrees. Any form of triangle that we experience will be an imperfect representation of the ideal triangle. Regardless of how precise your measuring and drawing tools you will never be able to recreate this perfect shape. Even drawn to the point where our senses cannot perceive a defect, in its essence the shape will still be imperfect; forever unable to match the ideal triangle.

Source: Wikipedia (!)

Triangles, along with other geometrical concepts, abstract concepts like beauty and truth as well as numbers are all, according to Plato, universals or forms, that exist eternally, in all their perfection, beyond space and time. That is to say, regular human beings like us will never be able to experience these forms in our everyday lives- the triangles and beauty we experience in our world of particulars, are only poor imitations, shadows, in which the forms inhere to a little extent. This so called ‘inherence’ itself is very intangible and therefore, debatable. There is therefore, according to Plato, no number ‘6’ in our world, it only inheres temporarily in, say a group of objects that can be quantified as 6.

While this may sound wacko, there is some truth in Plato’s problematization of universals and particulars. In Saussurean signification, the sign is comprised of a signifier and signified. Plato’s universals, are in a way, Saussure’s signifieds.

What takes my breath away is that my kindergarteners, the little tabulae rasae that they are, easily and quickly grasp universals from particulars.

What takes my breath away is that my kindergarteners, the little tabulae rasae that they are, easily and quickly grasp universals from particulars. A considerable part of our classroom transactions are spent giving these children examples of particulars. We were learning about the number ‘6’ last week, and I was thrilled and amazed when a child spotted the number (manifesting as a different particular, :p) in a book they were reading in D.E.A.R. later. It is nothing short of mind-boggling how quantifying ‘6’ objects finds its way to connect with the visual representation of ‘6’ and how that, may ultimately be derived from a universal form. What is admirable about the IB Primary Years Programme, is how sensitive they are to these nuances of learning- the emphasis given to conceptual understanding, and to form itself, as a key concept, continues to inspire and move me.

It fascinates me how we don’t ever come across these elusive forms or universals in the classroom or in the world outside and how we all yet, implicitly understand them. There’s something mysterious in that leap of understanding that I can’t wait to explore further.

-Ferzine

image