READING FOR CHILD
AND YOUTH CARE WORKERS
— Charles Reed
A story is told about a philosopher
who was crossing a big river on a small boat. He asked the boatman, "Do
you know philosophy?" "I can’t say I do," answered the man. "You lost
one third of your life," said the philosopher. "Do you know any
literature?" he persisted. "I can’t say I do," answered the man. "You
lost two thirds of your life," proclaimed the philosopher. At that
moment the boat hit a rock and started sinking. "Do you know how to
swim?" asked the boatman. "No," replied the philosopher. "Then you lost
your whole life," said the man.
In theory, we already know what good education is. We have all the concepts. Unfortunately, one cannot educate children on conceptions alone. Children present problems which do not disappear, even when the teacher believes in democracy, love, respect, acceptance, individual differences, and personal uniqueness. Though magnificent, these concepts are too abstract and too large. They are like a thousand-dollar bill — good currency, but useless in meeting mundane needs such as buying a cup of coffee, taking a cab, or making a phone call. For daily life, one needs coins. For classroom commerce, teachers needs psychological small change. They need specific skills for dealing effectively and humanely with minute-to-minute happenings — the small irritations, the daily conflicts, the sudden crises. All these situations call for helpful and realistic reactions. A teacher’s response has crucial consequences. It creates a climate of compliance or defiance, a mood of contentment or contention, a desire to make amends or to take revenge. It affects the child’s conduct and character for better or for worse.
These are the facts of emotional life which make teaching and learning possible or impossible. At their best, teachers recognize this core truth: Learning is always in the present tense, and it is always personal.
Getting the system going again
If you will tell me why the fen
"I May, I Might, I Must,"