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Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect

On the Lives and Education of Children

Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio

Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect presents a wide variety of concepts from scholars and practitioners who discuss pedagogies of kindness, an alternative to the «no excuses» ideology now dominating the way that children are raised and educated in the U.S. today. The fields of education, and especially early childhood education, include some histories and perspectives that treat those who are younger with kindness and respect. This book demonstrates an informed awareness of this history and the ways that old and new ideas can counter current conditions that are harmful to both those who are younger and those who are older, while avoiding the reconstitution of the romantic, innocent child who needs to be saved by more advanced adults. Two interpretations of the upbringing of children are investigated and challenged, one suggesting that the poor do not know how to raise their children and thus need help, while the other looks at those who are privileged and therefore know how to nurture their young. These opposing views have been discussed and problematized for more than thirty years. Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect investigates the issue of why this circumstance has continued and even worsened today.
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Chapter Nine: Love, Learning, and the Arts


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Love, Learning, AND THE Arts


“The arts, it is said, cannot change the world, but they may change human beings, who might change the world.”


In a small school nestled in the mountains of Appalachia, a second-grade classroom began every day with a short centering. Children gathered in a circle on the floor, sitting quietly and settling in for the day ahead. The change in children’s energy from the busyness of arriving at school, hanging up coats, dropping book bags on the floor, and entering the classroom easily transitioned to silence and stillness. The morning centering was a key part of the day and prepared students by gathering them together in a focused community practice.

On one such morning, I led students in a guided visualization to the center of their hearts to explore what existed in this interior space. Children were gently guided to see a door that led to the interior of their hearts. Once inside, they were directed to look around and see what lived in this repository: emotions, sensations, or an experience of a time when they felt loving or loved. After a brief period, these children were asked to gently open their eyes and move silently toward the art materials in front of them. Using white paper and colored markers, students were instructed to illustrate their experience. Revelatory and insightful, each...

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