Dr. Jackie Minor
My Hope for Harper
Over the past year, I have had so many opportunities to spend time with my four-year-old granddaughter. I don’t take this for granted. I had the amazing opportunity to grow up in the same town as my maternal grandmother. I am so grateful for her influence. She always poured love and truth into my life. Right now, I plan to do the same for our precious Harper.
When Harper and I have time together, we engage in many different types of activities—
read books, build puzzles, plant flowers, watch movies, play hide-and-go seek, sort shells, and anything else we can think of. Harper also has a scooter. She rides, and I cheer her on! She often entices me to race, which of course I do. In case you are wondering, she always wins!
This precious little girl never stops. She talks constantly, wants to try new things, and runs wherever she goes. She never—and I mean never—slows down. She has a curious mind and is full of wonder. Learning seems second nature to her. I suppose this is true of all four-year olds.
From time to time I think of Harper’s future. I know God’s Word tells me, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6). So in these moments when I reflect on her future, I pray. However, I have to be honest; it is during these times that I also wonder about her schooling.
I don’t worry about whether she will learn how to add and subtract or how to read. I wonder about other things. Chief among them is this. Will Harper’s precious, energetic, vivacious personality be celebrated and nurtured, or will it be discouraged and squelched? You see, I’m not sure she will thrive in a setting where the traditional model of sitting down and being quiet is the norm. Where competition is valued over cooperation. Where compliance is seen as engagement. Where following rules and procedures takes precedence over learning.
Don’t misunderstand. Do children need to learn rules and procedures? Of course. Do they need to obey the teacher? Certainly. Do they need to listen and take turns? No doubt.
However, the reality is many young children begin school with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and excitement only to dread going to school in a few short years. Why is that? I don’t have the answer. The question is a difficult one, and the answer is complex. At the same time, we as educators cannot deny the impact we have on how children view school and their learning.
So, what do I hope for Harper? If I could speak to all of her future teachers, I might humbly ask they consider some of these actions.
· See her energy as something to be channeled, not repressed.
· View her tenacity as an asset to be promoted.
· Encourage her when she gets frustrated. Tell her she doesn’t have to be perfect.
· Teach her to make good choices, and help her learn from wrong choices without feeling shame.
· Show her how to support others that may not learn as quickly as she does.
· Nurture her strengths and develop her weaknesses.
· Give her freedom to be all she can be.
· Love her when she isn’t as loveable as usual.
Will she get the chance to experience this type of educational experience? Will she continue to love learning as she does now? I certainly hope so.
I recognize how difficult it is to be a teacher these days. Children differ in so many ways—personalities, temperaments, learning styles. Yet, every child is someone’s precious gift. All children deserve what I want for my own granddaughter. While it might seem impossible, as Christian educators we have a power source that makes the impossible possible. Two key verses come to mind.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
As Christian educators, the calling to teach goes far beyond teaching our content. We must look at every child as a precious gift created in God’s image. We must see every child as one to be loved and cherished. We must give every child the opportunity to cultivate their God-given gifts. Teaching is a high calling to be taken very seriously.
Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24
I truly believe that God has purposefully placed Christian educators in our schools for a reason. It is an honor to be chosen to pour into the lives of children and families every day. As educators, let’s embrace our calling. My sweet Harper‘s future depends on it, and so does every other child who enters our classrooms.