Education: Permission or Prohibition

What turns a child onto school? It is the feeling of acceptance. When the teacher responds to a question, acknowledges curiosity (even if expressed behaviorally), and accepts a different learning style - that child is given permission to learn.

On the other hand, what turns many children off to school? The feeling of rejection. When the teacher focuses on the behavior and not the intent behind it, the quality of learning rather than the desire to learn, to ability to conform and not the curiosity that leads to new avenues of thought - children are prohibited from learning.

William Zinsser, in The Writer Who Stayed, describes the best teachers and mentors as those who "give people permission to be who they want to be." Furthermore, "most Americans look back on their education as a permission-denying experience - a long trail of don'ts and can'ts and shouldn'ts." (p. 160)

What kind of education, both at school and at home, are we giving our children?

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