What is it about asking questions that scares the hell out of us? It's unfortunate, but I think it has something to do with our days in school. Think back to when you were a child and wanted to know something. It could have been anything, "Why are there white puff balls in the sky that look like cotton candy? Does this bug taste good? Why can't I do that? What would a bear look like up close? So many questions.
If you are a parent of a three or four year old, you have already started to roll your eyes because you are drowning in these questions, right? Kids ask questions. As they should. They are so incredibly curious about the world that we live in and their own significance in it. The little ones ask the most amazing questions, some of which are so honest and genuine. Teaching pre-school and kindergarten has to be the fastest track to sainthood, well, accept if you teach middle school.
I always loved school. From the very beginning I was "placed" in this unique program called I.G.E which stood for Individually Guided Education. Doesn't it sound like it's some weird place for all the kids that didn't fit in to the Classroom Guided Education? I mean, we were in a huge school, with lots of kids. Why did they have this "special" program that was smaller, like a school within a school? My mother clearly remembers a conversation with the principal before placing me into the program where he said, "Well, Carolyne is a unique child, she tends to spend a lot of time drawing and doesn't always pay attention to what the class is doing. She's also left handed." (I laugh out loud every time I think about how left handedness has been such a strange thing to those right handed folks) My parents agreed, I may need something a little different so I was enrolled.
For the next 6 years of my life, I was in heaven. I loved my teachers, our projects, the way I was allowed to work on Math when my friend was working on English, we went outside twice a day and how every Friday afternoon the entire IGE program - all 6 grades, got together in Ms. Rudiansky's classroom and sang together in addition to having chorus, art, and music. I also remember how we were encouraged to ask questions. Sometimes I didn't want to because I was afraid of what the other students might think, so I would ask my teacher the question while everyone was working. Sometimes our teachers would ask questions that completely stumped our entire class and we would have to work together to find different solutions to the one problem. I remember this one time in first grade when we were taking a test on how to tell time. We were in these little cubbies so we could concentrate. Our teachers always called these tests "celebrations of what we know" which made me a little nervous because I knew better. At any rate, I didn't know how to tell time. I must have missed that class, or possibly was playing with the pet rabbit in our classroom, or maybe I just plum forgot everything our teacher had taught us. I don't know, but I do remember, not knowing how to draw a single clock for each of the times that were staring at me on this paper. My little heart was racing, I began to feel stomach sick and I truly felt stuck.
I didn't know what to do. I waited for a teacher to come around the desks so I could ask THEM what to do. No one showed up. I don't really know how long it was. It could have been ten minutes or possibly only two. I was 6 years old so I didn't really have any concept of time. I started to cry. Very quietly mind you because I HATE to cry. I was so mad that I couldn't do this "celebration of what I knew" all by myself. I needed help. I needed someone to help me. I felt a hand on my left shoulder and then my teacher was kneeling down so she could look me right in the eye. She had these soft brown eyes and amazing hair. I remember her hair looked like she got it done in a beauty shop every morning before she came to school. She said, "Carolyne, do you have any questions?"
She didn't ask me if I was ok, or why I was crying... She didn't acknowledge this emotional breakdown that I was experiencing. She simply asked, "Do you have any questions?"
Instantly my amazing little mind kicked in.... YES, I do have questions! "Where do I put the number 3 on the clock? Could you help me with 2:55? I don't remember what number on the clock is also 55 in a whole hour? Ms. Tartak, could I also get a tissue?
Ms. Tartak was a patient and kind woman. I was incredibly blessed to have kind and amazing teachers during my elementary years. Each one of them was encouraging to me to ask questions because I was a quiet, shy and sensitive
child. I'm so happy they saw that little spark in me. The one that wanted to ask questions, but wasn't sure when to do it. Even if you didn't have teachers like mine, I hope you keep asking yourself questions about what you want in this life, what you love and what is changing. Ask yourself every single day, "What do I want to move towards?" "What's one way to do that?" And if you have children in your life, keep giving them the opportunity to ask questions.
In Clarity, Carolyne
Back in the day when I was teaching pre-school, surrounded by all those little ones who loved to ask questions, explore and grow!