Today’s post makes a specific demand of the educator:
Of the many conversations I have had with little and big children, I find it most difficult to talk about the environment and religion. (Somehow, I’ve never had to talk about sex!)
The environment is a tricky one because essentially, just by living the way we do and having more than one child and living longer, we are killing the earth. And everyone hates to be nagged at about turning off switches or not leaving electronics on perpetual standby mode. And recycling! The number of educators guilty of not recycling everything! We are a subspecies capable of rebuilding an entire rainforest if only we did the right thing! So in short, I feel like a phoney when I talk to children about being environmentally friendly.
Religion, however, I feel a little self-conscious talking about it for just 1 reason, that I might say the wrong thing. Children look at adults as if we were the source of all good and knowledge. The great thing however is that even when we are not, they are quite forgiving about it. And all they really need from us, is to demonstrate interest. Montessori describes one of the key functions of childhood as ‘adaptation’; to become a person of his time and place. To do that, the child’s mind absorbs all of the culture and behaviours around him, including faith and religious feelings. This allows the child to participate in his community. It allows him to feel that he belongs. Recognising these feelings and experiences in school tells him that you recognise that there is a whole lot of him than the ‘school him’ and that he matters.
So my religious education today is about Judaism. There are about 1000 Jewish people in Singapore so my real education on Judaism happened in Manchester from meeting many young dyslexic boys learning their lines for their Bar Mitzvah and watching Jewish Mum of the Year. Today is Passover, an important Jewish celebration and I learned my bit from BBC. It’s quite a good story! But still I find it a little terrifying if I had to tell 3 year olds about the plague…. perhaps I’ll stick to Moses, leaving Egypt and the flat bread bit.