Dr. Schoenbeck was the guest speaker for the Poehler lecture. She was described as one of the most influential educators in public schools and she founded Hand in Hand Child Care at Concordia. Dr. Schoenbeck started her lecture by giving the perspective of a child and what is the optimal time for learning as a child to help brain development. She stressed the importance to maintain focus on children and to create a loving community to stimulate growth on a number of different levels and areas in a child’s life. The Maasai people, a tribe from Africa in Kenya and Tanzania, have warriors to protect the village and the people in it. When a warrior passes another warrior the common greeting is, “How are the children?” and the other warrior would respond, “The children are well.” This simple conversation helped the people of Masai understand that the well being of the village is a reflection of the well being of the children, because they are the village’s future. The rates of death after birth, the physical wellness of a child, and reading abilities of a child have decreased in the United States, but the risk of living in a food insecure home has increased. Dr. Schoenbeck talked about natural growth of a child and how everyone learns at their own pace, so it can be a hinderance to force a child to learn something too early. She also explained the five main areas of child development: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual and moral. It is important for a child to constantly be learning new things through play time with friends and family, reading with mom and dad, being hugged and loved, and communicating at all times. These factors help a child’s self esteem, vocabulary, personality development, and mental intelligence.
Dr. Schoenbeck explained the five ways of development in a child’s life: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual. These five ways are similar to the five ways of knowing: observation, reason, imagination, emotion, and revelation. Each of these ways of knowing help a person develop an understanding of the world and find truth in the unknown. Just as a child uses physical development, a person can observe change in the world and solve how a problem occurred through the scientific method and investigating to identify clues. In reason, a child uses these skills to think through their problems. In intellectual development, a child may not know how to sound out a word but through practice and reason they can think through the problem and find a solution. A child naturally has a lot of imagination and uses this tool as a way to develop social skills with other children. The last way a child develops is through spiritual and moral knowledge. A child can go to church and learn from their parents’ actions on what is right and wrong to gain moral truth on how to live.
Self-esteem is very important to children. They develop self-esteem by the age of five. If a child is given love, affection, praise, and communication, the child will learn to believe “I am loved because I exist,” rather than, “People will love me if I…” This idea can be similar to people of color. Since white people are the majority and the overarching power in society, many people of color have to put aside their own culture and try to fit into the white lifestyle, thinking, “I will be accepted if I…” rather than, “I am loved because I exist”.
The lecture was very informational and impactful. The phrase, “So how are the children?” hit me hard. As I learn to become a Director of Christian Education, I have been thinking about teenagers and college kids as my main target, but how are the children in the church? They are the future of the church, the community, and how Christians will be viewed by others. What impact does the church have on younger generations and how is the church helping the community? I wish I could have stayed for the whole lecture because it is evident that Dr. Schoenbeck has a passion for helping and developing a child’s potential to thrive in life. Her main ideas on children were insightful to the students of Concordia: the children who are developing to bring out other generations potential.