A collaborative environment in a classroom can go a long way in enabling your child to not only recognise their strengths but also make use of the same.
If you are a parent, then you know what it is like to be a part of a PTA meeting. If your child is quiet in class, that is pointed out and it is said the child should interact more. On the other hand if the child is talkative, that is pointed out and it is said that your child should talk less.
The question that comes up is, is it right to talk or is it not? Are you saying there is a correct amount of talking that can be done and children should adhere to that? That would be wonderful if there was a way to determine that correct level and then follow.
The Power Of Such Observations And Self Confidence
End of the parents teacher meeting, the parent would come home. Perhaps choose to lecture the child on following the teacher's expectations or sit down and talk with the child to find out his or her perspective.
Quiet children want to express themselves but are afraid for a variety of reasons, one the fear of being afraid and hence being ridiculed. The talkative children on the other hand find it difficult to keep all their thoughts/ideas to themselves and have to say it as it comes. They worry that they would forget otherwise.
Both Categories Have Unique Strengths Which They Can Use To Their Advantage.
Children branded as quiet tend to listen better when there is no room for fear or ridicule. Goes without saying for anyone that unless the subject is interesting, attention paid is likely to be low. By being better listeners, could they play a critical role in classroom conversations? Could they be far more open to new perspectives than the ones who are branded talkative? In all probability their openness to new perspectives is being used at a disadvantage. They think that their own opinions/thoughts/ideas may not be as good as the others. Should children think about whether their contribution is good or not before saying it out aloud? Could it be that a random idea that does not sound practical or perhaps even silly, lead the classroom conversation in a positive way resulting in constructive solutions/conclusions being formed? Shouldn't adults encourage these children to take the first step to speak their minds? Could that be a better course of action rather than telling a parent that their child is "quiet" or "silent"? Everyone of us have our own personality traits. We need to learn to work with them, sometimes modify them but that's possible only to a certain extent. A "quiet" child cannot magically transform into a "talkative" child, neither is the reverse possible.
A more eager child who loves talking in class has a lot to offer. This child unknowingly desires to be the one to be heard all the time. They have so much to say and can't wait to say it all. Sensitizing them to pause, showing them how to note down their thoughts quickly so that they don't forget while listening to another person, helps these children become better listeners. It takes time. Nothing happens like magic in the real world. Branding them as talking all the time, doesn't help anyone, does it? Are they disturbing the other person by talking to them during class? That's a whole new matter. They probably would otherwise be drawing or simply dreaming as the subject matter or the approach to teach is not catching their attention. Or there is something that is bothering them. One on one conversations could go a long way rather than branding them and point it out as a negative trait. No one likes it when someone rubs in a negative feedback without offering a helping hand to fix it.
Power of Collaboration In Building Confidence
Students are used to looking towards the teacher and talking. When it comes to group discussions, they look towards the facilitator and tend to contribute at almost the same time. Some even try talking along with the other person hoping to be heard first. In the process they do not listen to each other. They do not support one another. They do not notice the other person.
Several real life problems involve problem solving using the power of collaboration. Experts come together, put aside their egos and get together to work towards an effective solution. They agree sometimes, disagree at other times. They may fight even and need a facilitator. How well this group discussion goes is entirely dependent on how every participant behaves and their sensitivity towards the other people in the group.
In my article Every Voice Matters for the Hindu Education Plus, I illustrate how children can be shown the way to help one another in classroom conversations. The bold ones could be taught to take notice of people who want to contribute but do not get a chance to. It is important for this group to understand that the other group might have useful contributions that may get totally missed because they didn't notice. The ones who prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves are far more likely to be encouraged by peers than by a teacher. It gives them the assurance that their views/ideas matter and hence must share them without hesitation. To make this progress, the teacher needs to set the rules and an environment that is conducive to such conversations.
P.S. Teachers reading the post, I would love to hear from you especially if your experiences lead you to disagree with me. Let's help one another to help children recognise their strengths and grow up to be confident individuals. You may leave your thoughts in the comments section or drop an email to email@example.com
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