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What We REALLY Teach

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

In her book, Teaching Four-Year-OldsCarol B. Hillman explains that the way she described her work changed over the years. At first, when asked what she taught children she “would have answered by describing some of the science projects or work with art materials I did with children,” but then her response evolved.  “Now it is different: I feel more secure in my own position; I tell what I really do. I teach children about the world they live in, about themselves and their peers. And I teach children about adults, trust, and love. I work with attitudes. I hope to inspire a love of learning. This is what I teach.”

Deb Curtis, in Really Seeing Children, writes that one of the most important things she does as a teacher is to ensure that children feel “seen.” She explains: “I was most fascinated with a game [the one-year-old children she worked with] invented together and played every day. At first I thought it was cute the way the children would play peek-a-boo, taking turns looking through the holes at each other and laughing uproariously together. But as I watched them day after day, I came to believe that something more profound was going on in the game.

The children radiated with feelings of joy each and every time they saw each other through the holes…[experiencing] intense wonder at being present in these moments and being drawn to each other with pure joy in the realization that we see each other.

I now bring this experience to all my encounters with children in classrooms, airports, and stores. For instance, I will keep looking at a child, waiting until they notice me. The response I get each time is so very gratifying when we both fill with pleasure as we communicate the simple yet powerful message, ‘I see you.’ Try it for yourself. As you do, imagine how the world could be such a different place if we were all able to see each other in this way.”

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