Sunday, 25 August 2013

Little Boxes - Little children.......

Walking along a city road in Auckland, NZ, with the inspiring Teacher Tom Hobson I noticed interesting contorted tree roots - shaped into a square – a slightly unevenly raised square! To me it appeared as if something or somebody had tried to contain the tree roots - the majority of the roots had been contained in the shape, they had ‘obeyed’, others had managed to creep out, they had pushed the boundaries! When the physical  boundaries were removed, the majority of roots remain distorted into their box shape; I wondered if they have been permanently affected, if this will negatively affect the tree at a later stage, will the growth be stunted, will the tree be more vulnerable or will this tree be stronger and healthier for it?

I reflected on these tree roots - is this what we are doing to our young children; distorting their growth by expecting uniformity and conformity. Does this mean we are placing these children in little boxes, lots of little boxes all the same? Tom started humming this well known song by Pete Seeger and I cant get it out of my head - thanks Tom!

Do we really want children to fit into an adult designed mould, to be and to act the same, not to question authority? I often feel that many adults do battle with these young children trying to get them to conform to the adult's standards instead of the adult understanding and valuing each child as being a capable, competent, unique and fully formed little individual with a mind, belief and will of their own. Some children will eventually contort themselves into one of these little boxes while others never quite fit. Surely the mature adult should be the one to adapt to the individual child’s needs, learning styles and motivational thinking, to bring the best out of each highly individual child instead of constantly battling to get them to fit into the boxes?

I am reminded of Tom's wise words: “We are preparing children for something; we are preparing children for their next year of schooling, we are not preparing them for life. Schooling as a conveyor belt system churning out children to fit into identical little boxes, filling up all those empty vessels and once they have been filled they are done." 

My concern is that as well intentioned as we may be - we are causing both short term and long term  damage to children by placing them into these little boxes....restricting their natural creativity and thinking. I love the creative freedom children display when released from adult restrictions......


  1. As I am about to embark on a new school year with a new group of students this post is really one to reflect upon. I hope my students will grow and spread their wings!

    1. I am sure you are sensitive to their needs and that your children will soar :-)

  2. Hi Niki,

    This is a great post. Something to keep in mind is the power of tree roots to break out of boundaries too. I have seen them swallow up rocks, and break through the brick walls of basements. I was wondering if you would be open to a non-promotional guest post. Some ideas I have are bubble activities you've never heard of, 3 science activities you can do for food, and a piece on games to play while camping. If you are interested, please email me at ryan (at) adamriemer (dot) me.

    Thank you, and I hope to work with you,