What would you think of a baby who was unamused by a rattle?
A child who never had toys?
A little girl who never played pretend games such as “house”?
A kid that never believed in Santa Claus?
Most people say that this would be an unfulfilled childhood. Well, this was me. Just to be clear, my parents never deprived me of anything. My brother, only one year younger, believed in everything from dragons to the tooth fairy and played with toy cars for hours. I guess you would call him “normal”. I believe that parents and early childhood educators focus greatly on creativity. Right from when we are born we are expected to imagine and create, this is what kids do, right? Well I was never the “creative” thinker. My mom said that from the time I was born I was the critical thinker, unamused by blocks, rattles or really anything. I wanted to touch things, feel things, taste things and once I had discovered what that “thing” was, I had no use for it any more, even as a baby. My parents would discourage people from buying me toys because once i figured out what that toy was or what it did, it was useless to me. After about 5 minutes I never touched it again. My brain did not foster the creativity that other’s did. When i was a child in school I was very frustrated and now, as I study education, I know why. I was always being asked to be creative, not critical and being a critical thinker was what I was good at! We don’t often think of 4 year olds as being critical thinkers, but I definitly was. By the time I could talk, my mom realized that there was no point in reading me a book that had a fictional story line. I could smell the “lies” from a mile away. Although my brother believed in Santa Claus there was not a time in my young life that I ever believed this was true. Even at the ages of three and four I would refuse to believe that a man could make toys for the whole world! I was the kid that told all twenty four of my fellow kindergardeners that Santa wasn’t real, and my parents later got a phonecall from an upset kindergarden teacher that she had 24 screaming, crying children on their hands, because of me. I just couldn’t understand how my fellow five year olds could be so clueless as to believe that Santa existed.
To foster my critical side, my parents gave me crafts, but not any crafts. I couldn’t create something from nothing but if I had detailed instructions I would make my craft look exactly like the picture in the book, nothing added, nothing taken away. You may think that this is a downfall for a child but I was quick witted and could understand detailed instructions from a very young age. I was also a puzzle kid. Any puzzles whether they be pictures, numbers, letters or solving situational problems, I would do them. The last thing I did was clean and cook. I wanted to be a part of putting things together and putting things in order. Learning the steps and processes of cooking and then being able to replicate it exactly was fascinating to me. My challenge to all the elementary school teachers out there is how would you deal with a child like me? How would you adapt to my needs and interests in a kindergarden classroom?
Although my critical thinking was a negitive in elementary school, it has served me very well over the years. When I was 13 years old, our principal approached the student council at my middle school and told us that the teacher who had been running our school store had decided to stop managing it. She was unable to find student volunteers and she hadn’t turned a profit in years, the store had to be shut down. I took this on as a personal challange. My critical thinking skills enabled me to see problems with the store that even the adults around me could not identify, and that year I turned a profit, grossing thousands of dollars for our student council.
This will be both an asset and a liability to my teaching career. I will understand the students who think more critically. I think that many of my fellow pre-service teachers air on the side of creativity, as they should! Creativity will keep their students engaged and they will be successful! My hope is that my students will leave my chemistry classroom with a set of deep problem solving skills and the ability to critically think through hard situations. I would hope that they could step back from any situation and THINK. All I want is for my students to think for themselves, as I do, and as I did as a kid. As I have aged and found who I am as a woman and teacher, I have discovered a more compassionate side. A side of me that is more understanding and less critical of people. I have learned that my critical side is great when im doing schience homework and when i am trying to serve ice cream efficiently, but that it needs to be toned down when I am working with people. I hope that all educators can take something from this, not all kids believe in Santa Claus.