As I get to know my students, I have noticed two things.
One – they have no patience with each other. They will immediately default to fight mode. If someone does something that adversely affects them, it must be on purpose, it must be to make them look bad, it must be considered a threat.
Two – while they are excellent word readers – they know their phonics – they have no ability to infer, draw conclusions, see cause and effect relationships, and they’re not that great at summarizing. In short, their higher level thinking stinks.
One is behavior, the other “academic”, but in reality, they are closely related. Children who do not have the ability to think critically cannot fully comprehend what they read. They don’t get the deeper meanings of words and phrases. They may be able to read the words in Harry Potter, but they don’t understand why Hermoine is an overachiever, or how Harry feels when he heads back to his aunt and uncle for summer.
Likewise, my students can’t look at a situation with their peers in anything but surface understanding. They just don’t get that maybe X feels embarrassed about his grade and that’s why he grabbed his paper out of your hand. Perhaps J didn’t intentionally trip you; he is always running into things and twirling around in line. Maybe B isn’t annoying; maybe he just needs help all the time because his English isn’t very good yet.
I know that many of my kiddos also come from homes where yelling and hitting is how problems are resolved. That, combined with a lack of understanding beyond the surface of a situation, makes it difficult for these children to deal with conflicts in a logical, productive way. I can’t fix their home lives. So I’m going to have to work extra hard on getting them to think critically about what they read, what they see, and what they experience.
I’m gonna get right on that.