“Mr. Pearce, what is your name?”
To an adult, the irony behind this question is rather obvious. By addressing me by my name, one would assume that the child already knows the answer to the question that is being asked. The cheeky smile on this 6-year-old girl’s face would also suggest exactly that. However, as adults we are often guilty of assuming there is always a right and wrong, and that it is us that fully understand the meaning behind the questions our children ask.
However, after almost 20 years of working with young children I have grown increasingly aware of the beauty and ‘curiosity’ behind a child’s perspective. With this in mind, I took the time to sit with her and talk through the question. It turns out, she was not being cheeky at all, but is in fact mesmerized by the notion that the teachers in the school all do not have the first name “Mr.” or “Mrs.” and that we all have identities outside of the school walls. When she saw my first name on my security pass her curiosity was peeked further, leading to follow up questions such as “Where did you get that name?” or “I met another Ed once, is he your brother?”.
Whilst TV presenters will famously quote “Never work with children or animals”, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Take the example in the picture below:
Again, as adults we can assume that this was not the response the examiner was looking for. The question I would leave you with is “Is this child correct?”
As educators, our days are filled with interactions like these, with the children in our care providing a unique perspective into the world around us. It is these interactions that fuel a passion for our profession and encourage us to share a love of learning with our students.
The child’s perspective can also provide you as parents with an endless source of amazing interactions with your child. When reading to your child, or listening to them read, take the time to pause, question and reflect on what has just been read. We all know that there are ‘facts’ that will guide a response to ‘closed’ style questions (e.g. In the example above, “What is the first name of the girl who prepared the slide for the microscope?”), however when you broaden the question (e.g. “What was on the slide?”, “Why was she using a microscope?”, “What would you like to look at through a microscope?”) the possibilities become endless. In this instance, the response becomes less about the content and more about listening to the reasoning behind the response.
For me, working with children is a passion first, and a profession second. The possibilities are endless when working with young minds, and I look forward to sharing more examples with you over the course of the year. I’d also encourage you to share any such interactions with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.