Childhood a time of innocence

What are the memories that you associate with school? I guess, in particular, what are the memories you associate with elementary school? The high school where I teach has recently relocated across town, in order to be nearer to our elementary campus. This presents a chance to be near a world which I have only seen through the eyes of my grandkids, and which is very different than the high school world in which I daily move.

OK, well, I was an elementary age child. But that was a long time ago.

The memories which my encounter with this age group, in a school setting, bring back are far different than the ones which they are making- and yet somehow not so different.

Kindergarten, first grade, and Pre-K (yes, we have Pre-K right on site at our school) were a time of wide-eyed innocence. It should be so, for small children. My heart wrenches when I confront the fact that there are kids of this age who have been forced to lose their innocence, who have seen and heard things which will remain in their hearts and minds forever.

The battle cry of third and fourth grade is still, “That’s not fair!” This fits right in with what we learn in Ed. Psych. class: that, developmentally, children of this age are developing a sense of justice, of what is right by the rules and what is wrong by the rules. Since this is the age that Mikayla is, it follows that I hear this particular chorus with some frequency.

Later, we learn that fair is not always just, and that in our world, some do not play by the rules, and sometimes those ones get ahead. Still, can you imagine the effect on the growth of the child who does not learn these basic expectations of fair play, who never hears or sees consequences or rewards ? Perhaps it is such persons who populate our jails and prisons.

There are tons and tons of reasons, sociological and biological, why middle school children are the way they are. This is beginning to move into the age group I am most comfortable with, yet I realize that it is in the pre teen and early teen years that many parents wonder if perhaps someone has taken their child and replaced him or her with a clone. The changes of adolescence are beginning to stir.

This column began by asking you how much you remember, and what associations you have, with elementary school. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention that one of the reasons I personally enjoy working with teenagers is that, right or wrong, you can generally reason with them. They may not like the line of reasoning, and they may rebel at what is going on, but they are generally capable of following a line of thought and drawing some conclusions.

The styles, trappings and vernacular are different than they were in the time when you grew up, when I grew up, even than they were ten years ago. But, every time you pass a bus full of kids, remember that you had, at their age, far more commonalities than differences with them.

Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School. He can be contacted at: clyde_davis@yahoo.com

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