Poehler Lecture

Describe – This year’s Poehler Lecture, titled “So, How Are the Children?”, was given by Dr. Barbara Schoenbeck. She spoke on the value of children. She began by making the point that the well-being and care of the children are a good indicator for the well-being of the “village” they are in. She then began to evaluate the well-being of the children in the US. The statistics were rather startling. The infant mortality rate is higher than 27 other developed countries. A quarter of the children in the US live in a food-insecure household. Having covered the physical development, she spent the majority of the remainder of the lecture discussing how formative the early years are with regard to intellectual development and what the essential elements are for promoting growth. These elements are care, safety, self-esteem, touch, music, communication, reading, solid and loving relationships, interaction, and self-selected play. She then wrapped up by discussing how child-led play and loving care are both important for building social and emotional competence. Finally, she stated that all children are precious gifts from God and that we need to love and value them.

Integrate – This is directly applicable to the theme for this semester “Hearing their voices.” Although children are likely not the first group of individuals that come to mind when the subject of marginalized groups come up, they are a group that does not have a voice of its own.  Children are completely dependent on others for basic sustenance and safety, not to mention healthy emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development. Children need to be represented and taken care of. They are the future.

Evaluate – I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture! It was highly informative and highly relevant to me. It was refreshing to hear information grounded in studies and not just what a particular parent thought was best. Although most of the information does fall in line with conventional wisdom and what I have previously believed to be the best forms of parenting, it is comforting to know that there is evidence to back it up. This is also extremely relevant to me for several reasons. First of all, I already have a niece who is relatively young. Although I am by no means her primary caretaker, I do frequently interact with her. Secondly, I hope to raise a sizeable family of my own in the future. Finally, as I am pursuing a career as a pastor, I will likely have many interactions in dealing with child-parent relationships, both in counseling parents on how to best interact with their children and interacting with children of various ages. Having a solid understanding of what helps children to thrive is important for all of these relationships.

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