Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to re-envision a student or child as a “lesson in freedom” rather than a distraction or disruption.
Directions: In Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School, Carla Shalaby turns observations of “trouble-makers” around and examines what educators can learn from student disruptions. The author highlights how interruptions, misbehaviors, and distractions can tell a story about how our schools and classrooms are not serving the needs of every child. During this assignment you will take one “trouble-making” student or child from your experience who could serve as a case-study or lesson of freedom. You will first describe the child’s behavior, the setting of the situation and 1-2 memorable experiences that exemplify the child/youth as a particular case. Then, as inspired by Shalaby’s work, you will present an alternative explanation of the lesson that you may have learn from this child. This requires putting oneself in the child’s or adolescent’s shoes and thinking about why they might have responded in this way. Finally, at the end of this piece, please describe at least two ways you could have handled the situation or interacted with the child or youth in a more positive or democratic way. This assignment should be approximately 2 pages in length and should incorporate citations from at least two readings.
Quote to inspire your reflection: Use this assignment to do as Shalaby suggests: “I want us to imagine their behaviors – which are admittedly disruptive, hypervisible, and problematic – as both the loud sound of their suffering and a signal cry to the rest of us that there is a person in our shared air. That is, when a child is singing loudly – and sometimes more and more loudly, despite our requests for silence – we might hear that song as a signal that someone is refusing to hear her voice.” (p. XXI).
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