I was reading Phillip Adams’ column in the Weekend Australian recently (May 28/9) talking about the general ‘hurriedness’ of life today. His comments, as usual, were insightful. It got me thinking about the ramifications of our hurried lifestyles and the stress that places on children. The younger they are, the more stress they pick up on. Young minds need a slow pace of life to absorb everything around them, which is why we have child-centred learning in our early childhood settings. I reproduce part of his article here as he as an amusing mode of expression.
‘Instead of whistling while we work, or having a quiet ponder, we now fill every moment with multi-tasking and multi-entertainment. We talk of killing time where, more than ever, time is killing us.
… Our attention spans are ever briefer. Yoghurt has a longer shelf life than our interest in anything of significance, though we seem to have endless time for celebrity trivia.
In the eternal, all-consuming, signing-and-dancing NOW, scintillating and silly in its flexing searchlights, everything disappears almost before it’s happened. Sometimes this can be merciful, as in the quick passing of the Royal Wedding. If only the Bush presidency had passed as quickly instead of taking longer than the passage of a pig through a boa constrictor.
… We no longer linger on great issues. We neither concentrate nor cogitate. The greater and louder the bombardments of NOW the less we really know. We’ve never had more access to information yet we’ve never seemed as ignorant – as we hasten to turn the page and change the channel….’
My concern is the lack of depth of any conversation with most people. That includes topics discussed in the classroom. What effect does that have on children? Where are they headed? Are they to be increasingly ‘dumbed down’ in pursuit of immediate thrills? It is our responsibility to ensure we allow them the time they deserve to notice that really matters in life instead of relying on the canned entertainment of today and the constant organised activity. They need to learn self-reliance. They can’t do this without opportunity. It is for this reason I was so impressed by the project in France on Philosophy for pre-schoolers (Kidz Newz Issue #103). But it needs a co-operative between parents and teachers otherwise it’s an uphill battle. Parents rely on guidance. Involve them.
If you feel the children in your care are too hyped-up to concentrate for more than a nano-second, play them some relaxation music in the background while you teach. For very little children, after lunch while they are having quiet time (or even sleep time) play some lullabies. Watching a DVD is not relaxing. Instead it is stimulating and exhausting because of the concentration involved. For excellent CDs I recommend, go to the Kidz-Fiz-Biz website and check out the Sound Health series. I also have guided relaxation CDs by Donna Marwick-O’Brien, Kids’ Music Company and Maggie Dent.