In the event that we begin to believe that all children are fundamentally alike, we are making a huge mistake. Yes, they all eat, sleep, walk, talk and perform basic body functions. But that’s where the similarities end.
It’s fascinating to see what five and six-year olds do when they are blessed with free time. Some girls gravitate (naturally?) toward a kitchen area and begin preparing imaginary food. A few girls head toward construction projects, making it a point to do anything that the boys can do.
Several grabbed books and one undertook a complicated art project while the balance of them chose plastic shapes or components to build race cars. And at least three of twenty-six chose to isolate themselves to complete work, make presents for me or simply watch the world.
It’s impossible to determine whether or not the children were demonstrating tendencies that would carry through to adulthood with regard to interests. But the social interaction is vastly more informative than any specific activity.
We can divide them into three major categories: the bosses, the followers and the renegades. Each has his or her own traits, speech and attitudes.
The boss wants to direct everything and anything. He or she will tell others that they are missing a piece, wrecking a design or breaking the rules. They will also be the first to tell the teacher that someone is doing something that shouldn’t be done.
The second group will do whatever they are told. They clean up after others, they stack chairs and they are absolutely delighted not to make any decisions, have original thoughts or take chances.
Renegades are the most fun because they won’t take orders but don’t know why. They can be seen staring into space, working endlessly on activities that should take half the time spent and refuse to belong to a clique. Happily, these turn out to be the brightest, most successful and least emotional in the class.
If only we could fast forward and see which of these kids become Steve Jobs or Ruth Bader Ginsburg types of adults. Whatever they decide to do, my job is to encourage, confirm and embrace. Shalom.