Growing up, I remember one or both of my parents using the expression, “Too much of a good thing.” It’s not something that we hear much lately, at least in the materials I read or hear. Without making a decision as to the truth of that adage, I thought about it on Tuesday, in second grade.
One of my habits is to purchase puffy stickers for the classes I teach. Children of all grades like stickers and when we have extra or free time, I like to pull out the stickers and construction paper, to let the students design their masterpieces.
My most recent sticker purchase included 8,000 of them. While I didn’t make them all available, I did put several hundred out on a desk for their use. Although it doesn’t make (adult) sense to me to cover a sheet of paper with stickers, that’s exactly what several students did. Apparently, having such a large collection of gifts makes it logical, if not necessary, to take as many as possible. That’s how I got to “Too much of a good thing.”
Would it be better to limit their choices and make over-consumption less likely? Or is it better to give them virtually unlimited options, making them feel free to use as many as they like. I guess that it depends on the lesson I’m trying to teach, if any.
Somewhere along the way, it is a good idea to practice economy and sharing resources with as many other students as possible. But I also believe that children should experience bounty and vast quantities of choices, particularly because adulthood will make those much more difficult.
Maybe there is space in the middle. It’s possible that too many stickers make decisions difficult and frustrating. Too few encourage hoarding or wanting to “borrow” from others. Next time, I’ll make fewer available and see what happens. And so it goes with life. When we don’t have too much money, too many clothes and shoes, and more toys than we can ever use, one or all of them cease to have significance. Shalom.