Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I always knew those sci.en.tol.ogists were crazy!

My Aunt and Uncle are Sc.ient.ologists. They moved to the US fifteen years ago or so to teach at a Sc.ient.ology school out in the northwest. I didn't really know much about the teachings of that 'religion' until we went to visit them a couple of years ago. They gave us a tour of the school, and explained some of the theory and practice of how they go about teaching the children.

It's a very self-directed method of study. Each unit has a packet that the kids work through - reading about the topic at hand, and then using various media to demonstrate understanding. For a history topic, for example, the child would read a chapter, then perhaps make a series of clay models of the seminal events. We watched some of the kids at work, they all had their dictionaries out as they were doing their reading, and had all kinds of tools at their disposal for creating their models. Once the unit is complete, the child takes a test, when they are ready for it. If they don't get 100%, they have to go back and repeat the lesson until they do.

I thought that it was an interesting method of education. I may not agree with everything they were doing, and it certainly won't work for all children (in my opinion), but I did feel that they had some worthwhile ideas.

So, when my uncle sent me a little pamphlet called "Children" from the sci.ent.ology book collection, I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a read. And truly, I do think that it had some points worth considering. For example, a lot of people will say to a child "you're fine, you're okay" when they fall down and hurt themselves. The sci method suggests instead asking the child what happened, and having them tell you a couple of times, asking questions about the incident, until they feel better and are able to move on. I can see the reason behind that - we don't actually know how the child feels, and telling them they're fine (in effect, you're silly for crying) is in some ways belittling their experience. Another example - letting the child do whatever he/she would like to with their toys, including breaking them. Why should we impose our methods of play, our strictures, on our child? If they want to play so hard with a toy that it gets broken, why not? Again, we are teaching the child, by not letting them truly own their toys, that they are not in control, not in charge.

Towards the end of the pamphlet, there's a little section on baby care. I read through this too, even though it was for babies much younger than Ant is now. I got to a part that was talking about what to do if your baby is crying. It suggests that if the baby has just been fed, so you know it's not hungry, has been changed, has had a nap so you know it's not wet or tired, that you should look for other reasons that it might be crying.

Like a pin, or a piece of coal in the crib.

Yes, you read that correctly. I was so surprised I almost fell out of the chair. I figured that it must be a really old pamphlet, published in the 1850's or something like that (yes, I know that Sci.en.tology didn't start until the mid-twentieth century or so). So I checked the copywrite date. 1994 and 2000!!!! The only thing I can think is that someone was playing a huge joke. Or trying to see how many people would actually read the pamphlet.


S said...

Well, that does make sense. Hmm, might warrant looking into it more. Not that I'll be converting anytime soon! LOL.

Em said...

Very odd, indeed!

T said...

I don't know what's so funny - I find coal in A's crib all the time - if only I had had this pamphlet!

heh, heh.

lucky #2 said...

Coal? Is that supposed to be AFTER santa claus shows up? lol

tonya said...

A bit late coming to this one, but I'd heard that blurb about the pin and coal, and it always made me wonder WTF Katie was thinking when she reproduced with Tom!

As for talking kids through an injury, etc, IMHO it is *totally* the way to go. I learned a great tip from an infant development teacher: she said that even little babies should be shown things patiently (such as when they suddenly fall and hit their head, you pat their head then pat the floor, and tell them "you hit your head (pat pat head) on the floor (pat floor). Ouch! You hit your head on the floor." They can then learn to distinguish cause and effect, and that some things are not just total random chance.

My daughter's preschool is very much like what you described, and I LOVE it (whole child focus, with an emergent curriculum). They do lot of problem solving with the kids, don't minimize feelings, work a LOT on ensuring kids "use their words" to communicate, and that agreements are formed for many kinds of things (what the game is, and respecting each person's feelings/wishes). Well, it sounds more touchy/feely than it is in action, but it really works well. It is a lot more work for adults to do this, but the result-- when used consistently over time-- is amazing. Probably why so many preschools rely simply on redirection; less work = cheaper wages.