Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Give kids power

I was reading a book recently about a little 5 year old girl in California who spent many years in foster care after her mom brutally murdered her dad and then killed herself. The story is fascinating about her time bouncing around foster care, her experiences, how she's treated, how the foster care system works, etc. At one of her stops, she was with a very kind lady who actually cared for her, rather than just doing the bare minimum to collect the payment. This girl, who is telling the story, talked about how she had been at this particular foster home for about 3 years so she had learned a lot about living with this family and living in this house. She knew what to do, what not to do, what was expected of her, what she could ask the foster mom for, etc. One day, a new foster kid arrived. A boy. He was much older and bigger than the girl. However, the girl pointed out that since she had been there longer and had learned how to adapt and survive in this particular home, she held the power. She had the knowledge of life in this home, so the new boy, though much bigger and older, was inferior to her. She even made the comment that she felt power over this boy because she had the knowledge. He didn't.  I thought it was an interesting perspective on knowledge and the power of it. If we give kids knowledge, we give them power. Not just knowledge about content, but knowledge about being a strong, confident, bold person. Knowledge about how the things work and what our place is in this world. Knowledge about potential and what it means/takes to reach that potential. Knowledge about other human beings, about their feelings, about what makes people different, about respecting those differences. I was working with a struggling kid the other day teaching him how to make bracelets out of paracord. He learned quickly and I could just tell that he felt powerful with his new found knowledge about how to make something. He wasn't thinking about being naughty or disrespectful. He was thinking about how he just accomplished something, how he just learned something.  Knowledge is power. Give kids power. 

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