What’s your vision of the child?

This past semester I had an opportunity to pose this question to a class of graduate education students at Johns Hopkins University.

My colleague Mike Chalupa, Principal of City Neighbors Charter School and Academic Director of City Neighbors Schools, and I designed and taught a new class called “Urban Progressive Education.”  We gathered every Thursday evening with our small group of students, many of whom are currently teaching in public schools in Baltimore.

Our goal was to get to the heart of Progressive Education.  To begin, we asked our students to tell us how they see children.  What is your vision of the child?  Here are just a few of their thoughts, excerpted from their papers:

Vision of the Child

“Children have that innate spark of life and imagination…

…children are honest, authentic, emotionally available and present.

With children, this authenticity flows like water.”

– Tracy

“When exposed to the new challenge, the child naturally seeks to overcome it…

The child is curious, honest, and sincere.”

– Mohsin

“Children seek and thirst for knowledge: knowledge about the world, society, themselves.

Children are agents; they possess great power and agency to create, ignite, and make choices and decisions that impact themselves and others in their world.  They are agents of free will.  They speak, act, think, choose.”

– Leslie

“I see the child as dedicated, passionate, and focused on the things they love…

Children are fascinated with the world around them and merely trying to get a firm understanding on each and everything that is of interest to them….they are trying to explore, learn, grow, and find joy.”

— Tim

“[Children are] capable of imagining a world beyond our dreams and intelligent enough to make it a reality.

…creative, imaginative, persistent, wise eager, and curious about the world.  They can invent….”

– Jennifer

“Children have an almost limitless ability to solve problems and think about things in creative ways.

Children enjoy the process of creation…”

– Claire

“…children are often inquisitive, enthusiastic, and thoughtful.

Ultimately, the child is inspired to do more and learn more every day.  The child wants to make a difference…”

– Geneva

“…the child is passionately purpose driven.

As he or she explores, the child seeks a purpose or vision of grandeur and possibility with little hesitation.  The child loves to become a world changing scientists, a brooding poet, or a heroic Gryffindor….”

– Megan

“The child is an explorer.

When the child feels loved and encouraged, they are able to step outside of their own limitations…”

– Michael

So, if this is how we see children, what is happening in the ideal classroom?  Please leave a comment below.