A Summer Reading Reflection: Children as Persons
By: Alissa Wilcox, 2nd Grade Teacher
[The child] is an individual who thinks, acts, and feels. He is a separate human being whose strength lies in who he is, not who he will become. - Charlotte Mason
4 years ago, many times, right after graduation, I would hear: “Why do you want to be a teacher?”
My response was some version of: “I want to mold the minds of children and show them how to grow into civilized people through my teachings.”
So naive, so wrong, so prideful. If only Charlotte Mason’s philosophies had been required reading in my university studies. Maybe I wouldn't have been trying so hard to make a class of mini Mrs. Wilcoxes. I thought it was my job as a teacher to make the child into a person. Charlotte Mason communicates so clearly and lovingly that children already are people, complete as God made them, and, by God’s grace, most of them are nothing like me.
I now have four years experience teaching in different areas with different groups of children. God has shown me time and again that my successes as a teacher have nothing to do with my talents or skills and have everything to do with God’s blessings.
Next year will be my fifth year of teaching and my 23rd year in a school. Cambridge is different than any school I have experienced. So, what does it look like to teach in a school that values the child as the God-created person that they are?
I'm not sure yet exactly what that looks like for me, but I know it changes everything. If I believe that the children in my class are made and designed by God, then I'm going to invite Him in to help me teach them in the best way He can. As Mason said, “All our teaching of children should be given reverently with the humble sense that we are invited to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.”
I certainly won’t underestimate them. “There is never a time when (children) are unequal to worthy thoughts well put and inspiring tales well told.”
So, this year I will create a beautifully-decorated learning environment. I will train children in organizational skills and responsibility. I will teach about landforms and math facts. I will teach new spelling words and vocabulary. But if I don't teach each child as the whole person he/she is, if I don't go to God first at the start of the day, none of it matters. Philippians 3:7 - “But whatever were gains for me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”
My prayer for this year, in my life and in my students’ lives, is that God would inspire us all to seek Him and see ourselves as all God has created us to be and discover anew that He loves us dearly and perfectly.