Sunday, 28 September 2014

seeing red spots...

In a facebook group I follow an image was shared... orginally shared on twitter apparently where a teacher visiting another preschool took a photo of a written explanation of "red spot system" - where the children apparently had not been listening to the adults, and if a child had many red spots they would then not be allowed on an excursion from the point of view of safety...

This awoke a barrage of comments from a Swedish point of view of the attrocity of having such a system, of it being illegal, of it violating children (kränka)... despite being challenged that we should discuss this positively -
"But how can the rest of us think constructively here, not to point the finger and admonish saying "ugh, how bad, we would never do that"?"
 - and yet there must have been a hundred comments that stated just that, in various different ways...

I participated... I provoked, a lot, and was probably a royal pain in the bottom - and eventually got told
"It's just sad that you want to get a discussion that has already been discussed. Nobody thinks it's okay. Anwhere really. Where do you want to go with provoking a debate here?

This made me feel rather sad... OK I don't like to make other people sad, but that aside... the reason why I wanted to discuss this, was that only one side of the discussion was present... unless I added my provocation and got deeper responses... that reasons being given for not using red spots to mark a child's behaviour was that we wouldn't do that to adults... but no actual evidence of the effects that this kind of system has on children, on people in general... I linked up lots of articles etc from those promoting behaviour charts and those against it... and also links of what could be done instead...

I feel so strongly about hanging out "colleagues" in this way - of saying their methods are old-fashioned, from the 1800s etc etc... without being open enough to hear what these teachers have to offer as reasons for making this choice.

I get concerned when there is this hard divide between what is right and wrong... because I always feel it pushes others into a defensive position where they will not be open to learn... and if you feel that another is using a method that is not beneficial for children, then pushing them into a defensive place, making them feel small, is maybe not the best route to take... or maybe I have got it all wrong...?


I don't know... I feel lost.

I also feel sad by that comment because I thought it WAS a group to provoke discussion... and basically a comment like that also has a silencing effect... a sort "you think differently from me, that makes me uncomfortable, stop it"... I don't want to be comfortable with my thinking... I want to feel the discomfort as I wrestle with ideas... I want to be provoked so that I just don't accept what I have always believed, but get to see other perspectives...

I guess I am autistic enough too that when I read the comment about not just admonishing and saying we don't do that here - but to think constructively... then I want to do that, and that is hard to do when most comments are 

      Impossible to interpret curriculum like that!
      Truly a pure impossibility!
     Miserable. Never the children's fault, educators have failed. Clearly.

     No, but usch!
     Completely sick
     help
     shame on them
    But shit .... This is terrible. Punish children ?? Ugh, how angry I become. Tragic.
    But, eh? 1800s? Shame on them!!


They continue... there comes a reminder about how everyone can make mistakes (by the same person who asked us to think contructively) and 
"I am more afraid over the comments to the post, more than over the letter."

This too awoke the defensive nature that we all have the right to react... which yes, we do have the right to react, to feel... but having worked philosophically for the last 20 months has got me thinking about the value of what we contribute... facebook as that lovely "like" button that allows you to like a comment you agree with... (its like nodding when someone else is talking to let them know you agree) so technically there is no need to write the same thing over and over again to prove that you too are feeling angered/upset... the like button lets you and others see your standpoint... and at the same time allows you then to ADD to the discussion... 
maybe with how things worked when working with a group that did not respond to adult direction to keep them safe... it would have been good to hear lots of these ideas... and I think many would have benefitted from different approaches...

Here is my first comment: (I apologise for all the clumsy translations from Swedish)
 
Many talk about the punishment of the children who remain at preschool (instead of going on the excursion)... and then say that everyone should stay as a solution ... is that not a punishment for the children who actually listen to the group's needs to stay within the safety limit, which creates a successful outing?

Perhaps it is enough  to observe and that the "dot system" is something only for the educators about what the children cope and what children need to have equity ... equal value is NOT everyone doing the same ... equal value is about getting all the that they need to reach their potential ...  respect ...

If a child is a security/safety risk, the child needs more support and help in order to have a successful outing ... maybe going on an excursion would expose the child to situations where they fail in front of everyone because it has been difficult to keep within safety limits ... and safety and security comes first - for all individuals and the group as a whole ...

Without knowing the children, and the group, I can not come up with concrete advice ... but in my group, where you have children with very different needs, we do not do the same thing all the time ... sometimes you go out with only three children to be safe, sometimes stay at home (preschool) with  an educator and do other activities ... not a punishment, but a way to respond to the children's current needs in different ways ... sure, we have not been able to make big/major outings together as a whole group .. .. we test every now and then, and we become more and more successful, and we see where the children have more need to practice ... and then there will be various exercises / games / activities where children can practice their skills -
I believe that children are competent but not cannot do everything... but that in every individual they have the ability to learn - but it's certainly not at the same time ...

We have children who need support with their language ... then they have another activity when the others play / work with something else ... sometimes the children wonder why we all do different things ... and I can easily explain that everyone has different needs, say that the child might not have the need to play with prepositions, but need to play with something else - climbing, drawing, building, etc. (the children have told us what they want to get better at) - the children nod, accept and continue ... but the same question from the same children show up again and again ... and they get the same answer ...

I have no problems whatsoever to divide the children ... for it is the right of all children to get what they need to lift them in their development and group development ...

I have seen how my own "clever" girls are used as tools to help the more "unruly" children ... that they miss things because a number of the class can not "behave" (for no one should miss out on anything) - then the I get frustrated ... why should my "good" girls, who take
others into account, who want to learn and play and have fun in a fair way, be punished in the name of equal value? None of the children get a chance to have VALUE ... it is only same/equal ...

All children must take responsibility for their actions ... even the children in preschool ... it's something I actively work, create weekly schedule so that the children take meaningful decisions, not just decisions that confirm that "deciding" is something you do for yourself ... we work a lot with philosophy with children ... then we explore all these ideas with them, creating a lot of space to talk about everything, listen to each other ... not just listen to adults, but to what other children say has equal value to what I say as an adult ... why does one child not listen to another child's "stop"? ... why does an adult have to come in to make it stop for real? We also use philosophy to discover what the group is doing, how we should act (as teachers), what does competent mean, listen --- often teachers mean obe ... and why is obey is a terrible word, when we really need it ?... when a child says stop you want the other to obey ... nothing horrible with the word obey ... but I also understand that blind obedience is not something good, to force someone else to obey without thinking / reflecting ...that is not something I want...

Now I've written a lot (again)


In a later comment I talk about how around the world there are so many different approaches... all done in the name of doing the best for the children's development/learning - and if we are condemning this method of red dots, does it mean we are also thinking the same of all those countries where this approach is more everyday?
I mention about my own son who does not respond in the same way which has meant threats have had to be used to keep him safe (and no that is not a feel good feeling - but I have written about my son... and you can read more about that - I will get round to putting a link in the comments to this post)
I also remind about the intial challenge of contructive thinking... and ask where are the links to research to support that the red dots are bad... and also the links to support and methods/approaches that would serve better... I then proceed to link up 12 articles/pages/research papers in both English and Swedish... with suggestions of different approaches... and also including research from Nairobi on punishment and rewards...

I get reprimanded for mentioning my son as being a home situation and having nothing to do with preschool.. I remind that children are more than the sum of preschool and we need to look at the whole child, and I was trying to offer a perspective as a teacher and also as a mother of a child that is frequently "violated" (kränkt) in the manner thay are all "usching" about as he disturbs the classroom and gets reprimanded in front of everyone... he feels "kränkt"...

I then get reprimanded for not allowing people to express that they are horrified

I remind again of the initial thought that we were all supposed to be thinking constructively... and that everyone does have the right to be horrified...

I react to the comment that no child can develop if they are being marked with "red spots", by saying that I am not agreeing with this method, but I hope to awaken discussion so that we can dig deeper and learn more...

I make a later comment that I also think children need the time and resources they have the right to... but sadly money does not always allow us to give that, the way that would be optimal...

I point out in another comment that adults are not exempt from this kind of behaviour of being valued in different ways - in the sense that for some reason people think that we treat children worse than we treat other adults... I think we are not always good at treating other adults with the respect they deserve.... reflecting on this now I see that some people from different cultures are not given the same value, beggars are often ignored and given lower status etc etc... this kind of stuff happens all the time... it DOES not mean I feel it is right to treat children badly on the premise that adults are not always treated well... it means that we DO have to look at this more and deeper and see this with more honest eyes about why we do the things we do... why we react the way we react... and how we can best offer the support we need as teachers, children and all people...

I realise I was far too involved in the discussion... but I found it far too interesting that the reactions were to REACT rather than to think constructively - and rightly or wrongly it became a mission to get thinking going... any kind of thinking...
I asked my son about those red spots... and he said it was a good idea... he would like his teachers to give him red spots so that he could better see what was happening (this surprised me).. but NOT in front of others...

So is it the red spots that are a problem... are reward/punishment charts something bad ALL of the time... can they be useful, or are they always harmful... this was the discussion I was hoping for... but never happened...

Then  I reacted to two comments where they asked what would happen if we applied the dot system to the teachers... 
This was my response...

 this happens in the adult world ... driving license has a point system ... too many dots, and you lose it, no more trips in the car ... there are different salaries, different names within a profession that tell you how much training you have done or not done ...

I do  NOT
defend the dot system, but I think the argument "how would the staff group feel ..." does not hold - it is much better with arguments that show how it affects the kids,  rather than how it affects adults ...
Sure, we are all humans, but we all see life a little different ... we, as adults, must take the time to see the children's perspective ... maybe time to actually ask the children what they think about this system, how to do things for the better so that the group works, so that you can go on an excursion without security/safety being risked ...

I have had colleagues who were not allowed to go out on excursions alone with a small group of children, the safety was compromised ... or that others do not want to go with just that person  because safety was not as good ...

Certainly all of this is in the adult world ...
there are many good ideas that Skinner has, but not all ... as all people and their theories ... how are we in Sweden to relate to countries that have a "behaviourist approach" as the reason for their child perspective / education / school system - is a whole country wrong? Are we better than they? do we not have the duty to ensure that other children in the world thrive ... all the children of an entire country are violated ... is it possible ...? Yikes the questions will not stop ...

I ponder and think about this "red spots" because I want to understand, and not just a lot feelings ... as, quite rightly, this raises ...



 here I get a brilliant comment back... even though the car bit is crazy!!!

 No. I can not see that this is something that is consistent with the values ​​or my views on people. To compare it with the driver's license or similar is just crazy. Children do not choose pre-school, they choose not to be there, they are at a disadvantage relative to the adults. The adults own power. System developed by the community, where democratic elections, education and many other things have been the basis for what we have chosen to submit to the rules is another matter entirely. Will write about this because it hurts me how many adults do not have a clue what power they exercise.


 But I admit to being hard work... to wanting to offer some crazy challenges because I want to get the responses like above and not just another "usch that is horrible..." - and if a blogpost comes... even better... because then even more people will get the chance to read the thought processes...

A response about "would you give red spots to your friends... too many spots and then you don't meet for a month..." (which personally I thought was even more crazy than my driving license comment)
But I feel that people do internalise thos red spots... you don't let people treat you however you want and that if they treat you badly then of course you don't want to see them again..

which I get pulled up on as some red spots are for not picking things up off the floor etc.... OK, didn't think I expected my friends to do that... and I had not understood the initial red spots being to control the children to pick up things from the floor either... I thought it was all about saftey and treating each other well... so that excursions could be safe... but maybe I have read it ALL wrong - maybe this post was about just controlling the children totally and utterly and not about safety... but maybe then that should have been the discussion about adult power... as the above comment mentions... we do have an enormous power... and I want the children to feel empowered themselves, to be able to turn to each other... but if everyone had read my previous comments they would have understood that also, as I clearly wrote that... but its not easy coming mid conversation where there are 174 comments... and where the majority are reacting and expressing their horror to the image shared...


the last comment is my favourite... I felt it said what I wanted to say but in a much better way... and I said that too...


But geez people! The only people who can discuss and solve this are the teachers who are actually working at this preschool where the image comes from. Then we can burp Lpfö (preschool curriculum) until we are sick of it, but not all preschools can actually scrupulously follow it, honestly .. Instead of posting the image here on FB the person in question should have taken it up with the staff at preschool. We all do wrong sometimes and I do not want that when it happens to me - that it should be posted on FB whatever it comes, but I hope that anyone, that if I've done wrong, will come directly to me / us and ask about it. I believe that those who work there have not got any chance to explain themselves and why would they  have to explain themself on FB? What is right and wrong and violations here and there, punishment and reward.. or why not consequences of what you do - whether it be adults or children, it may not be black or white. What is a violation to you? it's the same for me? For offended we maybe all become daily in one way or another - to be called stupid by a child, or that we do not get through anything we think is of benefit in a group of children due to various reasons, will we shout when we become offended? What is right for you is wrong for me, etc. .. we all interpret things differently. Then it's another thing about me or something try and try, in one way or the other to make things better and the preschool manager prevents you or the team, then shall we raise our voices. Is there anything that has happened here in this situation with the nursery? Maybe it's the preschool manager that actually has the greatest power that has "violated" the setting and not helped enough and is this a consequence of that? I will then be more afraid of all the comments that people made​​, which precipitates rather than ask themselves how come it became like this at this setting. Probably very few, or no one knows anything about this preschool, then how we shall judge? Equal values ​​for all, violations are you talking about. Sure .. but all these comments in this thread, what are they? I can honestly say that when I began my working career, I have never been so disappointed in the adults and what they do to each other, especially when it comes to power. As a child, I have heard how I should be towards buddies and towards each other, etc. and then when I became an adult it turned out that it was mostly just talk. Fair and equal conditions and equal value for all .. Yes we say it but life is not fair, especially when we are adults. No I do not agree that the photo/message is good, but I do not know what is the basis that it came about and why, I judge not. Maybe this thread should be removed? for I do not think we can help them and solve what is going on at the preschool. For the only thing that can solve the problem is actually the people who work there. Sorry for the looong post.

And this post got criticised... for taking pity on the adults rather than the children... which is not how I viewed it at all... I saw this post  that we should look at the whole situation and be able to help everyone in a very HUMAN world, where mistakes are made... and yes mistakes are made in all lines of work... and for some occupations mistakes have bigger consequences and there is less room for forgiveness.


 What have I learned from all of this?
Well not to get that involved in a discussion again... that is for sure... well at least on facebook. I have learned that it is REALLY hard for people not to react, it's a natural response, and I am far from above that kind of responding... not that we should ever belittle our emotions and reactions to how others are treated... and that it is hard to really understand what other people mean when you only get part of the communication... there is no tone, pitch or body language comeing with these words... so everything opens up to vene more interpretation. Including my own interpretation of this entire thread... which I have shared here.. this is my view on it... and I am quite sure there are other, differing views...


The preschool in question has now been reported... I wonder how many preschools around the world that use this system of using red spots to mark when a child misbehaves so that if a certain number of spots are collected they cannot go on the excursion (from a safety point of view) or for any other reason of collecting misbehaviours... 
I do think it unusual that misbehaviours are charted... I have seen reward charts but not misbehaviour charts... do they work? I am genuinely asking...
Are these charts violating children? I would love to hear different viewpoints... if you have managed to read all of this...
Adult power... how is that used and abused?

2 comments:

  1. Hi Suzanne, I have really enjoyed interacting, discussing and engaging in dialogue with you in some of the Facebook pages that I have been following. I recently unfollowed one page for exactly the same reason that you are expressing your concerns around professional dialogue. If we as educators, post items, and think that people should only comment positively, and be totally supportive of all of our posts, then we are blind to the fact that we all should continue to grow and learn from one another. I will continue to also provoke at times, to allow others to begin to see different perspectives and points of view. Is this not what we ask of our students and children in our care. Flexible thinking? I don't have to agree with you at all times, but I do need to be able to accept that there is more than one way to "be" and "do" in a childcare or classroom setting.
    Additionally I have just unfollowed an acquaintance on Facebook as well. Her "redneck" attitude and posts are offensive and racist. While I have engaged in some positive mentoring and conversations with her at times, and I felt tried to support her in beginning to have a more positive outlook towards others, I realize that I am not having enough of an affect on her. I have to let it go and stop the frustration. We need to spend more time in groups that inspire and compliment what we do. Perhaps save the educating of others to spaces that are in person, where conversations can really be deepened through personal interaction. Just so you know, I really appreciate the learning that you have shared and your perspective, and hope I find myself in spaces on Facebook where we can engage in deep and meaningful dialogue about support children in their learning and growing.

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    1. thank you so much for your feedback... both here and on facebook... it has meant a great deal, and I have appreciated it enormously... very empowering.

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