The world is a very big pond.

When I decided to become a classroom teacher of young children I was more than a little surprised to     discover that I would also need to learn how to teach them to swim. This was several decades ago in Australia, but even today Aussie kids are expected to be ‘drown proofed’ before they leave grade two.

The first task was to help them feel at home and safe in the water. We encouraged them to put their faces in the water, to splash and be splashed, to venture out of their depth but with something to hold onto. As their confidence grew and as they learned about doggy paddle, and a rudimentary stroke, they began to venture into deeper water. Soon they were confident and skilled enough to venture into the deep end without fear of sinking.

It’s a useful analogy. The world outside the school is a pretty big pool and in parts the water is very deep. It’s easy to drown out there. We see some kids who leave school and continue to play in the shallows. Others plunge in fearlessly, take on big challenges, and hopefully have the skills they need to make sure they can swim safely among the bigger fishes.

It’s my belief that if we teach our kids how to think effectively we are giving them the skills they need to negotiate the uncertainties of deep water and the pressures of the tides and currents that will pull them this way and that throughout their lives. Thinking will help keep them safe in the deep end.

I am looking forward to exploring how we can best teach our kids to think in the deep end. I will be sharing my thoughts but I also look forward to hearing the ideas and experiences of others. It is always encouraging to explore with like-minded people, but it is very exciting to find yourself changing your mind about a long held belief because of the power of an alternative argument. I love to be challenged.

So tell me, amid the pressures of each day, in the classroom or in the home, how do you make sure your kids are thinking and not just remembering, are working it out and understanding and not just doing as they are told?


Filed under Thinking

7 responses to “The world is a very big pond.

  1. Finally managed to log in with FaceBook, & I just want to say this is a terrific post. Yay! I’ll be following your blog.

  2. i don’t have any children but i come from a big family raising younger kids was just part of growing up in our home. from my point of view relating to your kids about life is the best way to teach them watching the news together reading books before bed time and taking the time to listen and talk with them about life. they will learn how you cope with the world. challenging your kids view points asking lots of questions about why they think the way they do and how you see it explaining your perspectives. telling honest truths about life and its ups and downs not hiding the pain of life from them but helping them to understand how to handle failure as well as success teaching them how to respect other and to show gratitud to the ones you love so they know its oK to show your feelings. i think if you do thees things you will have a child that A. asks questions B. is willing to explore the word and its concepts and C. will have the maturity to except his or her’s feelings and well as others. my only caution is to say this. its a fine line between being questioning and defiant helping them to understand the differences between when its good to resist and when to know that some times we have to do things we don’t like to do because its the right thing

    • Clark Barnett

      As a father and teacher, I couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing how something as simple as ready a story together can have a profound impact on a child.

    • Agreed. But problems arise in households that are under stress. In my last school I had single mothers with two or three children. There was no support from the fathers and with such a low minimum hourly rate they often had to hold down two jobs just to pay the rent and feed their kids. There wasn’t a lot of energy or time left for talking and reading. When I see a parent in a supermarket ignoring the questions of her children I have two simultaneous reactions: I think “Don’t you understand how important it is to TALK to your kids?”, and I also wonder about the stresses that mother is experiencing that make her so unresponsive.

  3. Clark Barnett

    I’m so pleased to see that the world has another outlet to hear all the wonderful ideas you have. Education needs more voices like yours.

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