In Berkeley We Don't Tell Kids "No"

When teachers of very young children say that one should never use "no" but instead redirect, I can't help but disagree adamantly. The 2 ideas are not mutually exclusive. A no can coexist with a redirection.

Young children can't understand that being told 'it's okay to pour sand' is supposed to mean 'don't throw sand'. We do them a disservice when we omit comment on the behavior we want to see them change. We confuse them when we blindly adhere to the Berkeley-hippie mode of parenting/teaching. Kids are much smarter than adults--they see through bullshit because they are not as polluted with PC crap as we are, especially the Berkeley-hippie-Volvo-Chez Panise set who fancy themselves the most enlightened and tolerant of city dwellers. No, you live in a tiny town where the rich live on one side of MLK and the rest on the other--like every other small college town. Get over yourselves.

Yes, I was recently somewhere in Berkeley where I witnessed this kind of pedagogy. The teachers seemed unable to tell a kid NOT to do something, be it climbing on the bookshelf, biting, pushing, grabbing, running inside, sand-throwing, water splashing or anything else that could prove dangerous or annoying to someone else.

I watched a teacher put a plugged-in toaster on a kid table with kids fresh from hand-washing, and then walk away. I sat there until she came back.

I watched the "biter" get shoved off a toy car by a child. I then watched the head teacher blame the biter for biting, and never said word one to the shover. That seemed to me to be terrible pedagogy. I don't advocate biting, but I don't advocate ignoring shovers either. Both little kids needed some talking to.

I am pretty sure parents have no idea about some of the stuff I saw, nor does the boss. Or, they are so Berkeleyed out that they can't seem to muster the integrity to do the right thing for the kids, and instead make the parents and each other happy by basically ignoring bad behavior. Nobody wants to make waves. Well, make some. Life isn't easy or smooth, and acting like it is seems counterproductive.

These kids are destined to grow up to be selfish Berkeley hippies, who are not actually hippies at all.

I have an old friend who called me a hippie Republican. Not because I was a Republican (I never was. Still aren't), but because I didn't adhere to the Berkeley-hippie mode of acting like there is nothing bad my child can do, but yours is a dick. Nor did I put up with the PC niceness that precludes actual dialog about difficult issues. No, I was a bit confrontational about the things I considered to be important and ignored due to political correctness.

I allow people to be who they are, not demand that they be who I wish them to be. Maybe there are just lots of damaged Berkeley folks who refuse to say a harsh or negative or authoritative word to a child because their parents sucked, or something. But, the Berkeley voters will put speed bumps everywhere and cut off access to streets all to keep out the riff-raff they are so tolerant of--as long as they can't be seen.

And the above is America's problem too. I mean, the grown ups in America are just too focused on how they feel, and not how others feel, or what might be right or wrong regardless of how some feel. We have turned into a nation of sniveling pussies, afraid to speak out, speak up, or fight for what is right. We only care about us and ours, not you and yours. And if our job is on the line--especially teachers who are taking the brunt of American vitriol these days--we will never say no to your precious! It makes me sad, and a little sick.

Well, I don't live that way. I work with kids and do what is right, not what pleases parents or lazy teachers. The lack of tolerance shown by these people is astounding. Their kid is perfect, and the little biters and shovers suck. But the teachers must never say no. Only positive words. Oh, and most of the books have been degenderized; the head teacher, I think, changed gendered pronouns in all the little books. And, Old McDonald is now a woman.

Look, Berkeley, you're not as tolerant as you think. Nor are you very accepting. You live in a bubble. Tell the biter to stop fucking biting, just don't call him "bad" for doing it. He's young. He needs your attention, not your vitriol and your milquetoast nonsense about no negatives--you're confusing the guy.

Oh, he can tell you're shadowing him, too. And he's 2.

By the way, in a conversation with the head teacher he told me that the room is bereft of color and pictures and posters and alphabets and number charts and other stuff for the walls because they have an "emergent curriculum" they use. I asked about it. It emerges from the kids, he said. I asked how he could get things to emerge without stimuli and direction or illumination. He looked at me sideways as if to say, "it emerges from the kids."

Perhaps. But nope. Teachers must provide the stimulation for things (ideas, thoughts, desires) to emerge. Very little emerges from a vacuum.

And this school is considered among the best. Folks have no idea what good or bad even are anymore.

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