Egalitarian principles of fairness, justice and participation are helpful up to a point. Sometimes we inadvertently cut off and shut down the flow of creativity and natural intelligence in groups of children by imposing well intended rules of fairness and equality.
Children are tribal. Wherever you go on this earth, children find each other and “organize”. They organize and integrate across gender, age, ethnicity, type and inclination – better than any contrived social model can do in a million years.
If you’ve travelled the world, even if by virtue of film or story, you will have encountered this collective intelligence in children.
It has a logic all it’s own. It is not smooth and harmonious, without difference, conflict or antipathy. But there is a remarkable sensitivity and awareness in children regarding whatever ‘tribe’ they happen to belong to, whether it’s their village, neighborhood, classroom, team or clan.
Watch a group of children working together. Look through the lens of a neutral anthropologist, and see something remarkable.
Children cross pollinate each other…They “organize” into natural compatibilities without moral persuasion of fairness or equity. Individual talents or inclinations suddenly appear out of dormancy when need demands. When faced with a crisis the group neural matrix kicks into non-linear problem solving employing the talents and ‘faculties’ of its component parts…sometimes coming to ‘solutions’ that are pure unfettered genius.
Not to idealize it. Young lives have to process things that cause stress, contradiction, confusion and fear; and sometimes it leads to serious difficulty in individuals. Even so, children’s collective coping strategies are extraordinary.
If the circumstance we create as educators promotes multiple intelligences, all kind of magic can happen:
Natural spokespersons and storytellers appear; natural catalyzers appear; integrators, implementors, anticipators, metaphor makers, tool makers, builders, orators, assemblers, mediators, actors, poets, rhyme and rhythm makers, jesters, interpreters, masters of ceremonies, dancers, philosophers, nudgers, careful watchers, bridging ambassadors…all and more begin to appear.
But only according to need and opportunity.
Natural Intelligence flows when there is a fertile structure or form which encourages it. The principle is inclusive multi-varied horizontal and vertical integration. In Talking Hands Talking Feet we have witnessed the outplay of natural intelligence and leadership in groups of children many times. It happens because it can. The ecology generates and supports it.
There is no secret.
The first principle is trust.
It is a fostered trust. It is assisting self-directed learning within a collaborative collective ecology. It is trust in the natural intelligence capability of human beings substantiated by ongoing research and training to back it up! It is the love and trust of conductive methodology which springs from natural principle.
It starts with letting go of various contrived controls, like ‘everyone and everything must be equal’. Ugh! Let’s give children a different set of tools. Give yourself a different set of tools. Be fair and inclusive by embracing various speeds, learning styles and modalities rather than the convenient mono cultural ‘one size fits all’ approach. Choose to honor your passion as an educator!
Talking Hands Talking Feet just returned from a Kaleidoscope spring break camp in Toronto, Canada. Over the week there were so many beautiful moments of natural leadership in every single participant. When it happens, it is a revelation for everyone, including the children. They often surprise themselves!
We often hear, “I didn’t know I could do that!”.
When they have a success, don’t fix them in it, by identifying them as a natural orator, or dancer, musician, mathematician, scientist or whatever. No. Better simply to take note of it and leave it as a neutral wonder. More importantly, you the parent or teacher discovers what allowed the natural spark of genius to appear in the first place, and do more of that. That’s what’s important. Put that in your toolbox!