We humans, as I have mentioned before, are wired for story. And frequently, those stories become distorted through several lenses, including - emotion, previously held beliefs, and inaccuracies in previous telling. This is the case for both the author/teller and the reader/listener.
And in that way, culturally speaking, almost everything we believe about the nature of children is based purely on fiction. In other words, untruths - whether from tales imagined by authors (think Lord of the Flies here), inaccurate (false) and mishandled scientific studies, or teachings from religious texts, that have dictated (for the past several centuries) how we treat (and what we believe about) children in our society.
We have this perception that children are lazy - without innate motivation. Therefore, we give them constant instruction and then complain about their inability to self-motivate. But then get upset if they take the initiative to do something on their own that doesn't quite fit with what we think they should be doing.
I spoke with a mother of a 17-year-old this past week. She reached out in pure frustration because her kid was refusing to attend school. Which brings about legal repercussions and hassles that she has had to deal with. She spent fifteen minutes telling me about her frustration with school. She clearly understands that most of the requirements are arbitrary "shit" the system has made up. But in the next breath, she was complaining about how lazy her son is and that he is basically at fault for not wanting to go to school.
She obviously shares this distorted belief about children - continually perpetuated through the individual tales within our own community and broader society. And truthfully (rightly or wrongly), I have little (no) patience with all that.
In most cases - when I have a parent who is verbally vomiting about their child's laziness, lack of motivation, etc., I try to have them put the young person on the phone. I want to circumvent the parent. Because I know it is unlikely that they (the parent) are in a place - to really hear or understand anything I have to say.
If at all possible, I want that child to know - it is not their fault, and I am here to listen to them. Even if it is only for that brief conversation and that family never reaches out again, at least they have heard that someone trusts their instincts, is interested in them as a person, and will take the time to listen.
Sadly, I was not able to do that with this kid. He was in school at the time (and had just sent his mother a message requesting he get picked up). I can only hope this family does reach out again - in response to the email I sent with more information, and I do get to talk to him.
Nevertheless, this interaction reinforced my commitment to destroy these harmful distortions sustained by the fictional tales of innate laziness, ineptitude, heartlessness, and natural sloth. These biases are hurting our children on a level that can only be described as an epidemic.
Our DNA carries the innate ability for story-telling, as well as our creativity, resourcefulness, problem-solving, curiosity, kindness, and compassion. These hard-wired human traits make us intrinsically motivated lifelong learners. I am dedicated to changing our shared culture - one story, one observation, one truth at a time - so there is no reason to believe otherwise.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Not a haiku this week - simply a thought that struck - and, in the moment, seemed ever so slightly poetic.
Both Centers have finished another academic year. It is hard to believe that nine months have passed - yet they have done just that - evaporated into thin air, leaving memories and taller, more mature young people in their wake.
Again sending thanks to everyone - parents and families, donors, community volunteers, board members, mentors, and advisors - who have supported us this past year. We are deeply grateful for your engagement and commitment to our mission.
Three weeks of programming - beginning August 15th. Register here.
DRC has parents covered those last busy weeks of summer vacation.