Author: Ralph Beistle
My grandson’s kindergarten teacher was exceptional. I don’t know of any other man who taught that age group in public schools. He had an unusual philosophy for his teaching. I learned this when I heard my grandson refer to a person as “loquacious.” Not only did he know the word, but he was able to use it properly in a sentence. I don’t remember in my 24 years at South Plains ever having that word enter into any of our conversations.
The teacher rejected the idea that some words are useful only to adults. The reason children did not use such words was because they had not been taught. He introduced “big” words to his class, one at a time—defined them, told their meanings and showed how they were used in a sentence. If his class became too noisy, he would be able to use that word, loquacious, and they knew it was time to be quiet. Young minds are like sponges.
I was reminded of a song from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” The plot centers on an American nurse stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II who falls in love with a middle-aged expatriate French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. A native woman, Bloody Mary, sings such lines as these:
“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear… You’ve got to be taught to be afraid…
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”
What are out kids learning? Probably not “big” words that even we might not understand. Other words that should not be in our vocabulary? Are we unintentionally teaching them to be fearful of things? Are we teaching them to love or hate; to serve or be served; to be uncaring or compassionate; to be selfish or generous? Are we teaching them to be prejudiced?
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4.1-7, NIV)
We love our children so much! Wise parents will find that the book of Proverbs has a lot of wisdom we all need in our lives.