We Were Meant to be Teachers!

Classroom Management Strategies and other Teacher Worthy Ideas

Are Children People?

Of course, they are!  But do they really feel like people or just ignored and/or tolerated?

Here’s an article that was featured in the Reader’s Digest, September 1926 (yes, 1926) and seems to reveal what too many children are feeling even today.  Yes, I know that we now have cell phones and other digital media interfering with the social self esteem of today’s children, but 12 year old Elizabeth Benson expresses how she felt and I believe that many children also feel today.  Read on and think about what she says.  BTW, her IQ was estimated to be 214, the highest recorded intelligence quotient at that time, and was rated as a “superior adult.”  Here’s part of her person article that was featured in the Reader’s Digest:

“Are children people?  Real people — not ‘kiddies,’ or ‘little folks’ or ‘little ones,’ or what have you, in the way of patronizing tags for us human beings who are not yet old enough to be accorded the sacred privileges of grown-ups?

Do you think we are people?  You say ‘Yes!’ but I don’t believe you.  I don’t believe there is one adult in a thousand, who really thinks of children as people — real persons, with individuality; with rights to opinions and to self-expression.

When I was five years of age I entered school.  Almost all the adults with whom I came in contact, treated me–along with other little children–as if I were anything but a thinking human being.  I soon found out that if I expressed an opinion frankly–and I remember that I had decided opinions, for Mother had insisted that I think for myself–I was called ‘forward’ or ‘impertinent.’  If I shut up like a clam, after a rebuff for being myself, my privacy was torn at by prying fingers; with some such patronizing remark as ‘Cat’s got her tongue!’

If children are people, they should be given the three great gifts which make life for grown-ups so pleasant:  courtesy, justice, tolerant understanding.

Take the matter of justice.  Even the best of parents are tyrants, sole arbiters of our fate, a court of justice in which the father or mother is judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney.  There is no attorney for the defense.  The defendant is seldom allowed to take the stand in his own defense.

[My thoughts – how many times did I get blamed for what my little sister did because I should have watched her better!]

…Since justice and courtesy are rarely found in any great degree in the relationship between adults and children, what wonder that so little understanding exists between the two?  How many adults show any tolerance for, or sympathetic understanding of, the myriad make-believes and gossamer fancies that float about in the mind of a child?

…On the more practical side, adults show just as little tolerance for the small miseries that children suffer.  Doesn’t Mary’s mother know that it’s just as hard on Mary to wear an unfashionable hat as it would be on Mary’s mother?  The ‘society’ of children has rules as important as those of adult society, and a girl can feel social ostracism as keenly as her mother can.”

Elizabeth goes on to mention that her mother treated her as a person, told Elizabeth about happening in her life as Elizabeth shared her own events, exposed her to creative people, and insisted that Elizabeth must think for herself, take care of herself physically, and develop herself morally and spiritually from within.”

At 13 she wrote a novel that was reviewed by Vanity Fair, and despite going on to a rather unremarkable life after that, is still generally regarded as the best test taker in history as noted by Thrillist.com.

Now that we adults have been humbled, how are we treating our own children and/or students?  Of course, we are responsible for molding these children into faithful, responsible adults.  But, do we treat them as “persons” with innate abilities and interests?  Or as a “blog” that just is tolerated?  Hmmm…





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