So in my last post I commented that I was going to try to use my very small amount of influence to make a change in the new center. I think back on that comment now and wonder when it was that I became such an idealist. As I walked the halls in the morning looking for whatever busy work I could find before I had to attach myself to a classroom (usually involving cleaning or maintenance), I would listen to one teacher putting her children through their paces (“Letters,”…””A,B,C,D…,” “Numbers to 30,” “1,2,3,4…”) It sounded so robotic and so…boring. I would listen to another teacher use every threat imaginable to get her children to be quiet. By the end of the day I was ready to scream and pull my hair out because there seemed to be no respect for the children and no concern about what would be fun or exciting for them in terms of day-to-day activities. No one was discovering new, exciting ways to teach the children the things that they needed to know. No one was discovering new ways to spark creativity, or invite curiosity, or help with discovery. Instead it felt like the expectation was for the children to do exactly what they were told to do exactly when they were told to do it, and never mind what the children might want or need to do.
Yes, I could have stayed and tried to see what kind of a difference I could make, but when the general atmosphere of a place is that of oppression, and when there seem to be no sparks of anything else throughout a building, one becomes afraid that they will be swallowed up by that atmosphere rather than capable of changing it. I refuse to let myself become jaded to the point where I do not marvel at the capabilities of the children in my care, I do not do everything I can to make their learning experience fun and exciting, and I do not do everything in my power to teach them the social skills they need rather than try to create mindless, obedient robots.
I left that center and transferred to an entirely different center, one that celebrates creativity, open-ended activities, and respect to children. I have only been at the new center for two weeks, but the atmosphere is like a breath of fresh air after where I was before.