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A Manner of Speaking Jul/Aug '91

by Bonnie Neugebauer
July/August 1991
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/a-manner-of-speaking/5008019/

"Children are asking for opportunities to test their competence. When that competence is affirmed . . . ego is strengthened, self-esteem blossoms, and children's sense of personal power . . . is significantly advanced. On the other hand, when can-do needs are thwarted, when adults 'do for' young children and thus seriously reduce their options and their fields of endeavor . . . they learn to rely on others to do for them and to help them in their life's work." (Selma Wassermann, Serious Players in the Primary Classroom, Teachers College Press, 1990)

Watch Matthew. He's putting the roof on his birdhouse and his concentration is absolute. He holds the nail, gives it a tap, moves his fingers (he's already smashed his thumb twice), then really whacks the nail. As he checks and observes the new bend in the nail, he lets out a small sigh and looks up.

In the actual scenario, Matthew's mother rushes in, offers words of comfort, takes the hammer, removes the bent nail, and promptly finishes the roof. In fact, during this project for five year olds, the greatest difficulty was in keeping the ownership of the project with the children. ...

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