ATHT: A NEW FIELD
Attention to Therapeutic AND HAPPY Tutoring
BY Carol Smaldino, CSW, author, psychotherapist, teacher and continual seeker
Part of growing real is attunement to the learning needs of our children. It is about inspiring them to use their curiosity and efforts to play and work and to develop their options. Fairly obviously this term is a play on the diagnosis of ADHD, and it means, playfully enough: “Attention to the Happiness of Therapeutic Tutoring”.
It is a new addition and a badly needed one. Its premises are:
- We all learn differently and differences need to be dignified.
- Much of the pressures of our culture assume that one way is the only way; there is often the assumption that college is the only route, and that standardized testing the only way. There are many ways to build an education, and not all of them have as yet been discovered.
- We are often distracted from the emotional needs of our students, their need for joy and excitement as part of motivation.
- Our job and the job of schools, is to inspire children, to entice them and to motivate them to learn and to work at discovering their world.
- Material in school is often not relevant to the students or taught in ways that include rote memory rather than critical thinking.
- Thinking has become often the least important thing included in education, and with that imagination. We forget that Albert Einstein really said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Besides, knowledge is always changing and we all need to be prepared to learn and question all our lives.
- Children and students can teach us about their concerns and their styles and their needs. At its best education is mutual, with the addition of cultural diversity and variety of experience in its essence.
- Good education needs a lack of nagging. Teachers get tired; they are underpaid often, undernourished by support and ongoing training, and kids and teachers can become adversaries more easily than counting to 3. Did I say teachers need support, and parents as well? How many villages does it take to support those who support those who care for our children? Let’s find out.
- Parents often know their children better than anyone and shouldn’t be treated with condescension. On the other hand schools or teachers or tutors shouldn’t be intimidated by parents who only demand and refuse to be part of a process. There is room for a community here, with parents learning and teaching as well.
- The joy of learning is inherent with every child. Children are rarely lazy; just watch an infant or toddler pointing and hiding and seeking and asking why till we drop from exhaustion. When a child has become lazy, we need to investigate. I haven’t met many kids who stay lazy once their complaints get heard and respected.
- Part of being a kid is the capacity for exuberance—for passionate participation. Learning at its best involves a thrill of being part of something important. When that thrill is lost, thrills become concentrated outside, in the only places that get to seem like home, and often enough that is where there reside alcohol, drugs, depression and anger. We need to rethink this one: IT IS NOT ONLY OUR KIDS WHO ARE STRAYING BUT WE WHO ARE NOT OURSELVES PART OF A LEARNING AND CONNECTED COMMUNITY THAT EMBRACES THEIR CONTRIBUTION.
- Part of love includes knowing our kids, hearing them and stepping back from a position of judgment to healing wounds once they are established. Love is hard since knowing them means knowing or learning about us.
- There is little learning without mystery and magic. The idea is not to practice the texts that were invented to make everything neatly arranged but to discover new ways of seeing and knowing.
- Naming our needs and our questions can be the beginning of true communication and a learning that can be healing.
- Openness to mistakes and to kids that seem lost in a maze of make-believe or failure can be the beginning of making things better.
- Pressure to perform and judgment by peers and authorities can be deadly because we and our kids stop knowing about our own level of understanding, questions and confusion.
- There is a quest here for an authentic learning process which can bring each child into a truer connection with curriculum, and with purpose.
- Rhythms of learning and thinking and playing and exercising and dancing, can bring new life into the learning experience.
- Stopping when I am ahead might be a good thing. As some of you might have noticed, I gradually used the letters to translate into the content of each pointer. This is my own ADHD mind at work, one which I prefer to call a dancing mind.
Therapeutic tutoring would be to provide a home to recover from past failures not only using the surest techniques to pass the tests at hand. It would involve and include ways to respect and discover diversity of styles and of goals. It would involve kids being able to teach other kids and even adults some of their own expertise, and their own language of speaking or of rapping or of almost anything. It might lead to some kids who are more physical helping others to move around and do sports and even rebuild some of our decaying cities and towns.
It might lead to an overhauling of the concept that what is presently the standard of today is of necessity the best or only way to live. As I like to say at times, just because authorities or bullies insist something is so, doesn’t make it so.
KIDS WHO CAN HAVE HAPPY ATTENTION AND RESPECT PAID TO THEIR LEARNING,
MAY WELL BECOME OUR BEST TEACHERS.
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