2017 Poehler Lecture: “So how are the children?”
Tuesday, March 7, was the annual Poehler Lecture at Concordia. This year’s speaker was Dr. Barb Schoenbeck, a former elementary teacher and professor at Concordia St. Paul. She got her Bachelors from Concordia Teachers College, now Concordia River Forest, later getting her Masters and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Minnesota. In 1978, she became a professor at Concordia and founded the early childhood education program at Concordia.
Dr. Schoenbeck based her lecture about early childhood education on one question that a tribe in Africa, the Maasai, would always ask, “How are the children?” To the warriors of the tribe the well being of tribe depended on the children. The children were so important that the children seemed to belong to everyone. They were so important that their needs came first, even above the elderly. After talking about the Maasai she talked about the children in the United States. She stated startling facts about children in United States that showed that the children were not doing as well as they should be. She then transitioned into the 5 stages of development that occur in a child’s early years. She first shortly talked about the physical stage before going into the intellectual, the main part of her lecture. When talking about the intellectual stage she started with facts about intellect in early childhood. She stated that fifty percent of mental intelligence is formed by age four, and fifty percent of achievement and behavior patterns are formed by age nine. She then broke the stage into ten essential requirements for intellectual development: care, safety, self esteem, touch, music, communication, reading, loving solid relationships, interaction, and play. Care is the basic needs a child needs: food, water, etc… Safety are the things children need to have or be free from for their safety. These include a safe place to sleep and play. They need to be free from pests, abuse, and other things to keep them safe. Self esteem is necessary for them to thrive and feel apart of something. Touch is needed for brain development and making physical connections. Music helps stimulate the brain in ways other things can not. Communication is needed because from birth children absorb the common ways they need to communicate, and discard those they do not. Reading is important because it helps expand vocabulary, the building blocks for literacy, and put children on the big step for success for their future. Loving solid relationships and interaction go hand in hand in starting social development. Play is necessary because it allows children to explore the world around them, but needs to be kid-driven and not forced. She then talked about social, emotional, and spiritual needs showing how all these basically come from intellectual development or are supported because of it. She then ended her speech by emphasizing that development cannot be force.
Honors 110 and 120, each class having a different objective, applied to this lecture even though two different types of material being taught. Honors 110 taught the five way of knowing: reason, observation, imagination, emotion, and revelation. At first I had to no way for connecting it to this lecture until hearing the five stages. These stages go right into the ways of knowing. Reason is intellectual development because intellect helps build our reason, and without intellect there would not really be any reason. Observation is physical development because observation is science that is needed to explain physical development or growth. Without seeing growth in the human body it could be more difficult to learn about the body. Imagination is social development because imagination allows us to connect with other people, whether it is through music, theater, art, or sports. Social development allows for imagination to be used with multiple people instead of being kept to ourselves to see or hear. Emotion and emotional development are obviously fit together. Revelation relates to spiritual development, because without revelation spiritual development would not be needed. The five ways of knowing and development, while being totally different things, work together. Just as each of the five ways of knowing work with each other the fives stage of development works together. While all are separate, they still need to work together to achieve the main goal.
In Honors 120 we are learning about the marginalized, especially race. Development of those who are marginalized, whether is is economic, racial, religious, or ethnic, can be stunted. If a child’s basic needs are not met because of their economic situation, all five stages are affected because all the child can focus on is where the food is going to come from. This decreases their growth, and can lead to disease caused by a weaken immune system stemmed from not having nutrition. Because of the worry for food, why would they care about school, friends, or faith? The worry for food can create anxiety and depression for the child. Issues that sadly arise from race, ethnicity, and religion can cause problems with intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social development. If a child is bullied for any of these it affects their self esteem. When bullying occurs, it overall affects their emotional development and can cause anxiety and depression. These hinder a person’s intellectual development because the anxiety and depression take over the brain to the point where it is almost impossible to focus on learning. When a kid is bullied and if depression or anxiety arises it hinders their ability to socialize because of the trust issue it creates. When a kid is bullied, the child questions everything, even religion, because things at the time are so bad that they do not believe in God. Marginalization can occur to anyone, and to some people it happens more, leading to problems in a child’s development. The more we learn to recognize this and fight to change it, the more it benefits the children, so we know they are alright or good.
This lecture to me was very important and eye opening because of my major being elementary education. While to some this lecture seemed like it did not apply to them because of their major, yet most of the people will or have kids involved in their life somehow. This information is not just important for those working in schools or daycares. It is important for those who are possibly going to have families because then they can try to help ensure that their child is developing where they need to. It also can give an eye opener to parents that they should not worry if their child is not walking by age one or not tying their shoes at age four. This can show them that don’t need to try and force development on them, because if it is being forced, it is going to hinder the child rather than benefit it. To me this lecture was great because of the information she provided that not everyone knew; the question that was used throughout, and how easy the message can stick to someone’s thoughts. It sticks with me not because of my major, but more so because I love children, and to me they are the future. To me children need to be more of a focus than they are right now. If we do not focus on the children, the future is going to harder for them and eventually cause the future to crumble. When I look at what I can do to help the children, I ask myself everyday, “How are the children?”