While I have discussed this subject in the past, I continue to be intrigued and inspired by what I learn from the students I teach. They don’t teach by design as much as by example.
For one thing, kids just don’t care about many of the things that we adults do. I always find it exciting that they are absolutely color blind and readily play with any race of child without hesitation.
Whether it is by parental mandate, necessity, or choice, young kids care nothing about fashion. They will wear prints with stripes or plaids, regardless of color. Socks don’t need to match the outfit or each other. And the only time they notice a classmate’s fashion decision is when it’s identical to theirs.
Another trait I love is compassion. As soon as a classmate tumbles, seriously or otherwise, numerous kids will come to check on his or her welfare. And in those cases where a child is new and uncertain about anything and everything, another girl or boy will always approach, for purposes of inclusion.
If there is a squabble on the playground, someone will inevitably rescue the underrepresented. It’s almost as if they have genetic traits for fairness and they immediately react to unfairness. They are all concerned about the teacher’s well-being. Very often, they will ask if their usual teacher is ill. And if I experience a stubbed knee or toe, students will rush to me with concern.
When do we outgrow all of this? Why do we outgrow it? It’s almost as if the world pressures us to abandon our selflessness and inherent kindness. Older kids are more likely to exclude, get obsessed with appearance, and replace empathy with social pressure. No wonder I prefer younger, less tainted kids. They teach me so much about what should really be our priorities. Shalom.