April 11, 2014 by Angel Pricer
“Mommy, my science needs just aren’t being met,” he states from the seat behind me as we make our way along the river’s edge during his last break from school. It’s been a while since I’ve written a Connor update. He asked me not to write so much about him, because people were actually reading what I wrote, and talking about it. This was music to my ears, but nails on a chalkboard to his.
Something tells me this is a post worthy of the Connor seal of approval. It’s not highlighting the benefits of mindfulness in education, of which there are many. It doesn’t go into detail about letting go of the past and being responsible for our choices in the present, though he’s been making great strides here also.
Instead, this post gets right to the heart of what matters to him:
and Experiential Learning
Have you ever had that disorienting sensation of turning the wrong way down a one-way street? Cars are coming toward you, honking their horns in righteous indignation, and there you are, in the way, wreaking havoc during the morning commute. Well, being a catalytic kid in school, or anywhere for that matter, is kind of like that.
I experience the same phenomena in my life. As a parent who no longer subscribes to the whole ‘disorder’ belief, I’ve learned through being present with myself and my children that many of our diagnosable traits are actually assets under the right conditions. This is a lonely road to travel in our relatively small, conservative, and largely disconnected community.
Just to be clear, I am not advocating a world run amok by individuals who lack self control and respect for fellow humanity. As indicated in my post, Form Follows Function, I believe that many of the methods employed to teach self control and respect at best are not effective and at worst destructive for a lot of individuals. And what happens to people who behave differently and can’t be controlled? Often, they are medicated. I was. Two of my kids have been. Now, we’re not. And that’s a story for another time.
What I am in favor of is observing kids with disruptive behaviors in the educational setting and mindfully interacting with them in a way that is MEANINGFUL to them, as opposed to trying to fix or educate them in a way that doesn’t resonate.
Yes, it can be an uncomfortable challenge for those attached to doing things a certain way. But enduring their expressions of dysfunction prepares us to abide in the face of our own. Often, it will feel like traveling the wrong way down that one-way street, but the results can be truly miraculous. Remember Jacob Barnett from my Mindfulness Before Medication post?
It’s not that catalytic kids intentionally set out to disrupt the norm, but rather, their very existence challenges the status quo; and with good reason. If we get really honest with ourselves and our own educational experience, we can’t help but agree that these kids have a point.
At some level, we all instinctively know there is so much more to learning and experiencing life than we allow ourselves to believe. Catalytic kids, like Connor, create the reactions that make it impossible to avert our attention from what’s not working. And when met within their range of interests with an attentive, loving presence, they will enthusiastically demonstrate what does work.
Today, my daughter told me about a little boy at the preschool where she works. She said he had been doing great in preschool, but once he entered full day Kindergarten the sweet, curious little guy began to display behaviors that reminded her of Connor in Kindergarten. Frowning, she said “What’s going to happen to him? He probably won’t get to go to The Hunter School and The Creator’s Academy isn’t here yet.” Sounds like a budding catalyst to me. I hope we’re ready to meet him in his brilliance.
Connor is a scientist, and a catalyst. I appreciate the perfection in this.