We in ECE are talkers. Yes I know I am making a big swath of a generalization and you can tell me I’m all wrong. But I think I’m right. We are talkers, we like to talk to everyone, big and small, we are story tellers, singers, and humourists. (Danielle and I are finding that ECE’s are wine drinkers as well, but that’s another post)
Don’t get me wrong, I love talking, just ask my husband. And I love working with ECE’s who love talking. We’re trained to talk, ask open ended questions, engage with children and parents, facilitate, negotiate, build relationships, all by talking.
But I think it’s time we thought about not talking. I think it’s time we stopped, looked and listened.
Yesterday an educator was telling me about bikes, a familiar story; lots of kids on lots of tricycles going fast in a fairly small area, a perfect opportunity for an ECE to caution, remind and offer rules of the road. But she didn’t do any of that, she just watched. And you know what happened? Nothing. No crashes. Nothing.
I’m in the pretend hospital, sitting on a small chair in the furthest corner. I’m watching a baby being born, nurses and doctors bustling about.
“Is it feeling good?” Sara says “Your baby is in danger, your baby is in distress.” She then delivers the baby and hands it to Bria saying “Here she is, here is your baby.” Bria takes the baby, cradles her gently and says “I’m going to name her Cinderella”.
As I watch this scenario I bite my tongue…..over and over. I want to ask why is the baby in danger? What does it mean to be in distress? And why Cinderella? But what would all those questions accomplish? Do the answers matter? And most importantly, would the conversation have continued if I had interrupted?
Listening to children, really listening, opens up their world to us, allows us a glimpse into how they may think, how they are interpreting what they see around them. We can get clues as to how they make sense of media, of what families and friends do. And we can be filled with wonder to see just how much children know, how they solve problems with great logic. And we can see that each child understands the logic of the other child, it is we who can’t quickly follow why the baby is named Cinderella.
What are we missing when we keep talking?