Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Draw them In

   It's no secret: children can be unruly and downright uncooperative. This said, I have noticed a trend among many that excludes the culprit from any and all activity leaving the child to himself with no recourse and no responsibility. That un-nerves me. Sent to their room, a desk facing the wall, standing 'over there', sitting in the hall- what does this do? Nothing at all. Well, maybe it tells them they don't have to do anything; that there is no bottom line; no boundary; no value to their presence.
   Whether among friends, family, or a student body the sight of 'exclusion discipline' drives me to the edge. It's not how I roll. I am one who draws them in; places them right next to me. Unruliness is a cry for attention (even if it is negative), or a cry to be ignored, even a cry to not be held responsible. I refuse to fall victim to these cries, instead valuing the person enough to lead them.

   Instead of pushing them away, I prefer to pull them near and 'stake them up' next to someone stronger- a mentor if you will. Drawing them in gives the attention, but offers accountability, purpose, and redirection. Example: a student quite verbally expresses disgust at the demo for today. His folded arms and set jaw accentuate his disdain. Overlooking this, he is assigned a table to work at as we all move on with the process. Continued attempts to be disruptive are causally met with warning, but not given too much address. When called upon to participate (measuring ingredients and stirring them in) he flat refuses. *at this point teachers offer to remove him, placing him in the hall as not to be disruptive* Instead, he is drawn in. Given the task of stirring the skillet as others measure out, he has to assume responsibility or face the consequence of burning the dish, thus ruining it. As we continue on, he begrudgingly takes the task and fulfills it. Mellowing, he later joins conversation.
    Before we get too romantic about the whole thing, it is not an easy, quick fix. I have seen a child throw themselves on the floor for a screaming fit and some stand in defiance refusing to yield. The key is to stand your ground and be willing to let the ax fall. The child who threw the fit- getting him to tell me the problem he had with his task was step one of many. I have more than once said, I need you to be a young man and take care of this. Rarely does it not end well- the Go Lady doesn't send kids away.
    Unfortunately, I have very little voice in the way friend, family, or the education facilities handle situations. They have their reasons, some are quite sound, for excluding. Teachers are overwhelmed with tasks and demands in their day and discipline is devalued and difficult. Before anyone takes this post in offence, let me say it isn't intended to be offensive- but thought provoking. For me, it's about stopping for a moment, considering the soul of this child, and trying to stir a spark.

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