In the world I see, children get together in the morning at school and talk about last night’s TV shows, ball game, and what they want to do that day, while the teacher joins in, listens, and helps them make it happen.
A girl sits outside under a tree and stares at clouds for hours. Other boys and girls run by
shouting, accusing each other of breaking the rules of the game they just invented ten minutes ago. In a room not far away, power tools whir as children build a bird sanctuary. In the same room with them is a teacher, standing and admiring nearby a chalkboard full of geometric diagrams the children asked to know to help them build.
Walk further on and there’s a room alight with shrieks as children finish painting and sculpting and bending and shaping whatever it is they chose to. Outside a window, just over the shoulder of the teacher who stands proud of the children who asked for her help and those who wanted to do for themselves, is a group of children and adults gathered around a final tournament match of dominos.
The sun shines through and around puffy clouds onto a 7 on 7 soccer match. The score is 3-2 and there is as much time left in the game as the children playing it want there to be.
Back inside, in the library, one child has taken on the task of reading the only copy of the hot book of the moment to a small group. One boy fidgets while listening, sitting still isn’t his thing, but the pretty girl he sits next to is. Another girl decides to leave and head down the hall to a room where two other girls are working with chocolate bars, gummi bears, bunson burners and a bunch of liquids. What they’re doing isn’t clear, but she asks all the same:
“Can I help?”
While off in the corner a teacher sits, reading, waiting to be needed should he be asked. Near him is the list the he and girls created detailing who would be responsible for cleaning up when they were done. Neither he nor the girls are much bothered by the shouts coming from the room next door where a group of children and adults sit at laptops. Their shouts are cheers or winces for victories and defeats in the game they play together.
In the cafeteria down the hall it’s noisy with chatter of adults and children at the tables. Many of the patrons nervously poke around at what’s on their plate as two boys and a girl nervously watch them from the kitchen, anxious to see if their new recipe is a hit. Hoping it at least doesn’t make anyone sick. A fellow chef, an adult, pats them on the shoulders, assuring them that they did well.
In this school, adults and children are colleagues, working together, at each other’s service when needed. Doing what’s best for each individual and for the tribe at large, hoping that rare is the time that those two things aren’t in opposition.
If it’s ever going to happen, the first thing that must happen is that we adults must see that children are not just incomplete adults, but are people with wants and dreams and ideas that are just as valuable as those of we adults. And thus have the same right to be respected as equals and the same right to participate in the making of their own lives as we adults would like to have as well.