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A Hallelujah Kind of Childhood
September 14, 2023
A sense of joy in a children’s center can be quiet, loud, gentle, and fun… heard, smelled, and tasted…muddy and dirty…wet and slippery…blue, red, yellow, purple, brown, black, and orange.
-Bev Bos, 1934-2016, teacher, author, musician

In the September 1995 issue of Exchange magazine, teacher, author and singer Bev Bos shared her classic wisdom:

The word joy will probably not show up in a curriculum guide. And I don’t hear many politicians using that word when they talk about schools and money and accountability. But those of us working hard to ensure a childhood for so many children know that if we did not hear laughter, giggling, hoopla, shouting, and cheering in our centers we couldn’t go on. It is the joy of each child that keeps us doing what we do.

Pete Seeger talked about how a thoughtless remark to children while they are singing can make them believe they cannot sing. He said: “The heart has a long memory for pain.” That statement gives me a lump in my throat. And because the heart has a very long memory for pain, we must take care, when we are making plans for programs, writing curriculum, when we are deciding what songs to sing, what books to read, what art to do that the element of joy exists. Because learning always involves feelings, we must protect the right of all children to have a hallelujah kind of childhood.

I would love to hear from all of you: What do you believe are the key qualities or foundations of ‘a hallelujah kind of childhood?’ In other words, what do we actually do to create the conditions for joy? Please share your thoughts. We’ll share your reflections back in a future EED.


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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Cheryl Smith · September 14, 2023
self employed
San Marcos, TX, United States

I feel the teacher's JOY is the most influential aspect in the lesson plan that insures joy in the children! Joyous teachers who Love children and their job create Joyful classrooms! It's that simple. With experience teachers learn to relax and feel the joy but early in careers they can be helped over the stress and find the joy that the children all have to show. Joyful mentors can help in that early experience with teachers.

Kirsten Haugen · September 14, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Deborah, I hope I can quote YOU in a future EED with how you ended your lovely message today - "Children should believe they can soar. Always. Period. Hallelujah!" Beautifully said!

Dr. Deborah Bergeron · September 14, 2023
Heathsville, Virginia, United States

So funny reading this today. Yesterday I was reflecting on my love of music and the pure JOY and Hallelujah I felt as a child learning to play the piano. I have a vivid memory when I was about 8 years old overhearing my piano teacher tell my mother that I did not have a 'knack' for music. Although that memory doesn't really make me feel pain, per se, and that comment did NOT keep me from continuing to play and find JOY in music, but the fact that I remember it so vividly decades later indicates it stuck with me. The heart, indeed, has a long memory for pain. I often wonder what kind of musician I might have become had I not overheard that comment. To this day, I call myself a 'moderate' musician (which I really believe I am) despite the pure JOY I get from music. I wonder if I hadn't had that limit put on me at such a young age if I might have had a different experience moving forward. Children should believe they can soar. Always. Period. Hallelujah!

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