Kids Should Have to Play With Everyone: My Thoughts on Teaching Children to Be Includers by Lark Sontag
In education, we have no problem forcing kindergartens to do developmentally inappropriate homework worksheets. We also have no problem advertising products to 2-year-olds. But many of us draw the line at playing with everyone.
Kids shouldn’t get the choice to be mean.
When I taught, you could be as loud as you wanted. You could also be as messy as you wanted, but you had to play with everyone and you had to play with everyone nicely – that was a non-negotiable.
I viewed my role as teacher as a facilitator of experiences, and too many times the one child on the side by themselves is there owing to sexism, racism, localism, lookism and/or ableism. I decided the classroom community I facilitated was not going to be biased. Children are products of their environment – they learn to exclude – by watching who we exclude on an institutional level.
For me the point of education has always been to build community, inclusiveness, to teach children how to give and take, to cooperative, and to not be mean. The building blocks of those skills take place in the earliest grades. So yes, you have to play with everyone and you have to play with everyone nicely.
What do you think?
Thanks for your piece.