Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thought bubbles of a seven-year old

For years in pre-school, feedback from Kai's teachers had always been such: "Mrs Tan, Tan Kai is always day dreaming in class. He drifts off; we're not sure if he's listening."

Children's attention span varies, and I've been told boys are terrible at focusing on tasks. So is Kai normal or different? If different, how different? I've never received a definitive reply. He's just different, I was told. After years of receiving unconstructive feedback like that, I gave up trying to decipher what is different (not wrong) with Kai so that I can 'fix' it. Nonetheless, I've always wondered what goes through that little mind of his.

Then he started Primary 1, and I stopped receiving feedback like that. (With a teacher to student ratio of 1:30, I'm pretty sure it'd be harder for any of his teachers to catch him drifting off.)

I was driving Kai home one day when he broke the silence and asked me to show proof that Jesus/God exists. "Like where is he buried? Where are his bones? Can I see the tombstone?" asked my seven-year old.

Today, he took the dollar coin which I always keep in the car just before we drove off for class. (I keep a coin in the car for days where I don't have dollar coins in my wallet for the supermarket trolley.) "Why is it that the coin continues to move with me even after I've thrown it in the air?" he asked.

He had been tossing the coin in the moving car, and had realised the coin is 'traveling' with him even though it's suspended in mid-air.

Next came the question of why cavemen came up with words to describe things.

Theology. Physics. History. If those are the stuff that day dreams are made of, then let him dream.

The question we should ask as educators/parents is not what is 'wrong' with the child. The question is how we should engage and teach the child, whatever his capability. An inquiring mind is ripe for the teaching, for absorbing facts, for discovering new frontiers.

It was Newton's inquiring mind that led him to come up with the laws of physics. Galileo disobeyed the Catholic church and maintained that the earth revolves around the sun. So this is the message I have for you, Kai: It is ok to see the world in a different light.

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