Professor Jack Kirkland addresses a conference in South Africa
The formal classroom teacher is the one who creates the environment for learning, generates and conveys inspiration, establishes the focus and content of study, and portrays the attitude that the learner is valued. The teacher enhances student enthusiasm, excitement, and engagement, which in turn maximizes the learner's concentration, comprehension and ability to perform. All of this is accomplished through affect, kinaesthetic practice, and the showing of warm feelings, all on non-verbal levels. This determines the potency of motivation “it is what drives the inner-strengths of youth to achieve confidence and competence, through which they grow courage to gain more and more of the same in cyclical order and performance.
In child care in America the teacher may be the worker, therapist, the recreationist, the gardener, cook “or any number of people who come into contact with the youngsters in a helping manner. In work with youth, the curriculum may be "arts and crafts," story telling, games, athletics, work assignments or a host of other events. The goal is always growth and development, expanding youths' abilities to see the needs and rights of others “to show encouragement, compassion and remorse, and to reflect appropriate emotions as warranted “to stretch youth within and beyond self so that growth reaches toward maturation, so that the individual thinks of responsibilities of citizenship, a vocational and professional career, and parenthood. Encouraging youth to think, assess, evaluate self in relationship to others, and seek new opportunities for learning, and to enjoy self and life, are the subtle aspects of this process. The on going replication of the process causes this curriculum to be a lifetime occupation.
Such an effective curriculum never ends “it operates both day and night and even works as youth take to bed questions and considerations to ponder on their pillows.
The teacher is the curriculum, as the teacher must act, interact, react to meet youth where they are, while anticipating where they want to go, and then designing, through program and dialogue, what is required of them to be full partners in their journey of childhood to adulthood, which seems ever so long to youth, until they get to such points in life which allow them to look backwards.
The amount of energy that youth are willing to put into any endeavour correlates well with the enthusiasm and encouragement of the teacher, and the degree of self-esteem which supports the individual, so that risk and loss would not be considered a disaster. To be the facilitator, enabler or stimulator, to enhance youth in growth and development, the worker must be aware that youth will see him/her as the model to emulate and replicate.
What are the things that youth must learn to function effectively in society, to maintain self-esteem, self-worth and self-reliance? The curriculum of life is:
To successfully gain a sense of security and pleasure within intimate relationships (at home and within the immediate environment)
To successfully learn skills which have universal application for social exchange (discharging frustration in a healthy and predictable manner and through good interpersonal social skills)
To have the capability of moving out into a broad society as an emancipated individual, comfortable in one's own identity and ability.
Wherever an individual may be on this continuum, determines the emphasis and professional use of the teacher “whether it is instruction and support, or whether it is support and/or rehabilitation. In either situation or combinations thereof, the teacher/worker is the curriculum. What is called out by youth in attitudes and behaviour in such situations can be suggestions, recommendations or corrections and interventions, depending on the youth's need or levels of deprivation. To respond properly the teacher/worker must be able to make the assessment of need and apply the appropriate curriculum. Where the formal classroom teacher and the child care worker differ on approach is in the use of curriculum. For the classroom teacher curriculum is static, routine, and repetitious, while for the child care worker curriculum is often an issue of sorting through corrosive emotions and feelings to get to the underlying causes which may prevent positive social functioning and learning. Both use repetitive patterns for learning, and are creative and dynamic in their style, and both build on strengths.