Something has gone terribly wrong….

Heavy week in the news again. We find ourselves faced with yet another young person whose life was shattered by the actions of others who purported to be her friends. The young lady from Saratoga High saw no alternative but to end her life after the devastating assault she suffered was shared all over social media by the boys who victimized her. It’s a terribly story, but apparently one that is more common than any of us would like to believe.

I grant you, not a very pleasant topic for a play based preschool blog. Nope – but a pretty serious one I’d say.

I just can’t stop thinking about the facts as we know them and drawing all sorts of conclusions that lead to more questions that all lead back to the same one:  What happened to make those kids so inured to another person’s dignity and well being?

We can go on and on and all around about the what, where and why of this particular event, but it still boils down to a complete absence of conscience and compassion. It’s hard to believe those qualities were not evident in their formative years. Did media overload desensitize them? Does the internet and social media make one feel infinitely powerful, remote and anonymous? It doesn’t really matter since none of that is going away. We, in our guidance of our children, must consider the outside influences that our kids are subject to….but our primary responsibility is to help them develop a good and caring heart. There is nothing more important for their individual happiness and for the well being of those they will share the world with.

More and more, we are consciously and actively making social competence, social justice and social responsibility the core of our philosophy at RTG.  The imperative to give kids not only a strong sense of their own possibility, but and equally keen awareness of others. Not a day goes by that we don’t have some sort of a conversation about how to proceed with the rules of games, personal needs and general conduct in a way that respects and includes the hearts and minds of each member of our community.

These are not “conversations” that seek to exert our will on the situation. To the contrary, we are only there to keep the focus on the need for everyone involved to be OK so the group as a whole can be OK. The actual rules being formulated are really secondary…it matters little whether you can have three minutes or five minutes on the swing. What matters, so urgently, is that very young children are having this time to experience being aware, compassionate, responsive and considerate. All the things that, were they a little closer to the surface in the consciousness of the three boys in Saratoga, may have guided their decisions in another direction…to one of compassion for their friend. Of course we have no way of knowing for sure, but my money is on yes.

What can we possibly be teaching children that is more urgent, more useful and more critical than a strong and loving appreciation for dignity and compassion?

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.  –The Dalai Lama





About Kris Taylor

I am the very fortunate director of two small, mixed-age preschools that are finding their unique paths by interpreting and incorporating the best of the progressive, constructivist early childhood philosophies. I never forget that the community of teachers, families and children are what makes it the amazing place that it is. Each day is another precious opportunity to practice and perfect valuing, respecting and loving one another; creating and exploring community; and having immeasurable fun in the process.
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