So many ways Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) could go with this post and yes, GOT plans to write about the proposals of Florida’s governor to boost teacher compensation to make an entire nation’s teacher corps go, “Golly! Sunshine State or bust!”
But a recent post on the Scary Mommy blog prompted GOT to think about the day he stopped believing in Santa.
I was eight years old. I don’t recall the thought process, but I do remember jumping in and out of an armchair in the rec room (short for recreation, like many families, we were living in a split-level house that was a popular architectural style of the time) and announcing to my older sister that I knew there was no Santa.
She is three years older than me. She was practicing at the piano and she did her best to talk me out of my opinion. But I rebutted that Santa Claus and our mother used the same wrapping paper for our presents–case closed. My sister jumped up and went to inform my mother.
Soon, GOT was called for a private talk. Mom didn’t pretend, but said she wanted GOT to keep quiet so as not to spoil the fun for GOT’s younger sister. Being a compliant kid, GOT agreed.
Ah, faithful readers, you’re saying nice story but what’s the point? This is a blog about education.
The point is this: those who have studied and are experts in child development, including your child’s teachers and especially your child’s elementary teachers … that is to say, IF they have gone through traditional teacher programs in college or done alternate work that duplicated such … know that at a young age, such as that of first graders, children believe in a fantasy world that is as real to them as the actual world we all live in.
You cannot convince a young child that Santa Claus does not exist. The evidence is obvious: Every 25th of December, they get up, go to the Christmas tree, and the swag glitters in the flickers of the lights on the tree. There’s no Santa? Then why are all those great presents under that tree?
As children grow and develop, the fantasy world fades and they eventually come to understand that it wasn’t real. But until they reach that point, they will believe.
Teachers know this. They tailor their lessons to meet children where they are at in their development stages.
Politicians do not know this. They make bad policy out of their ignorance. But in an ironic twist, they are like little children believing in Santa. They are incapable of apprehending the needs of children, how they grow, develop, and learn.
They stick to their fantasies that charter schools, vouchers for private and religious schools, annual punitive tests, school grades, teacher bonus schemes, and the like will meet the needs of children.
They are wrong. In being wrong, they commit the worst sin of all: THEY ARE HARMING CHILDREN.