“A person is a person no matter how small,” the iconic line from Dr.Seuss's Horton Hears a Who, is much beloved by people who value empathy and helps us understand that others who are appear different are equally human, this includes children.
We went to a movie theatre with our Learners this past summer session. Throughout the movie, we couldn't help but notice constant shushing sounds. When the lights came on, we realized children from a daycare was watching the movie with us. It was the daycare teachers who were doing all the shushing and yet they were the ones speaking the loudest amongst each other during the movie. Even while out and about, I've witnessed children threatened, forced or at times treated no better than pet puppies who can't be trusted and must be controlled and managed with an invisible leash in the form of threats, manipulations, or criticisms. When our Learners witness this on field trips, they are taken aback and feel the injustice very palpably. They've been with us long enough to know that they deserve every bit of respect as any adult. Adults/guides do not hold the power of authority that adults typically do in a traditional environment. Adults expect children to be respectful of adults sometimes using shame by gaining control over children as a sign of successful behavior management. Yet we, as adults ourselves, cannot stand being controlled, manipulated, or shamed. How do children learn authentic respect if they are not respected themselves ? Don't children deserve to be recipients of the Golden Rule -“Treat people exactly as you would like to be treated by them.”?
RESPECT – The most basic human right. we are more mature and are fully capable of thinking carefully of what we say to children. If it’s not respectful to say (or do) to other adults, it’s not okay to say (or do) to children.
Respecting a child teaches them that even the smallest, most powerless, most vulnerable person is worthy of respect. And that is a lesson our world desperately needs to learn.
“Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” – Thomas Paine