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Abby Field Notes 5

asweeney's picture

What? When we are outside at recess, this one little girl comes up to me at least 10 times each minute and says “Teacher Abby! Watch me! I want to show you something” and then does some sort of swinging motion on the monkey bards for me to watch. I come over and watch every time, but the action itself rarely changes. Eventually, I try to go to a different area of the playground, but she follows me insisting that I watch her “do this” and “do that.” Every time, I feel the need to say “Good job!”

So What? Why are some kids so interested in seeking adult approval for their activities and skills while others are not? As a child, I remember wanting my parents to “watch me do this” or “listen to me sing this.” Was this something that my parents encouraged and taught me to do? Or was it an innate need I had as a child to share with others and seek validation? Does the excessive need for praise and “show and tell” highlight anything about a child’s self confidence—either negatively or positively? This little girl on the playground really encouraged me to think through our motives for asking other people to watch us and share in our learning experiences. Ultimately, I think that we might all have a tendency to want others to watch us and share in our joys (isn’t that why we all love Facebook and social networking so much?) but that society conditions us to look for these forms of “look at me! Look at me!” opportunities in specific areas. This little girl will probably learn that it is not socially appropriate to actually say “look at me” all day long. Maybe she will develop impressive skills or hobbies instead that will still earn her this attention?

Now What? I’d like to investigate our motives for praise and how these change from childhood to adulthood.

What?  Later, the teacher sits the kids down on the carpet and shows exemplary work from the earlier Wow! Drawings of the day----pointing out how specific children drew details. She says things like, “Good Job child N. He decided to add more to his earlier drawing---to add details” or “child J, why don’t you come explain your detailed drawing to the class?” After she shows a picture the kids usually go “ahh” or “oohhh” or “good job -------!” At one point when the whole class says “WOW!” Teacher S says, “Now we don’t want to be fake. Let’s show that we are impressed but please don’t overact because we are trying not to be fake.”

So what?

I think it is great that she shows students work, but I wonder if the same students always get their work shown. I seem to remember that happening a lot when I was in school.

Her focus on sincerity and authenticity is really interesting. I wasn’t really expecting her to say this and I was also really impressed that she did. Valuing authenticity is not something we often encourage in kids----especially since the television they watch is often over-acted and adults often speak to children in an overly dramatic manner.