This is the third part of our "Power series" written by Kath Pratt. Together, with you, we are exploring the power dynamic in schools and whether we have it within our power to change it ...
So far, we have explored the word "power" and its connotations. We have explored the idea of having "power over" and "power from within". In our latest blogpost, we wondered:
What if we blew the doors off the normal ‘power over’ school of thought?
What if children remained power-full alongside the adults in their lives, and most crucially inside themselves?
What if parents and educators similarly were empowered to hold that?
One area that particularly resonated was that Kath suggested "rather than being partly formed adults, children are fully formed children". Here are a couple of the responses:
So, are we reflecting that in our educational models? Are we reflecting that in our day-to-day lives? How? How not? What do we have within our power to change?
Onto our next instalment ... take it away Kath ...
At Soweni (thrive in Cornish) we are endeavouring to do exactly this and blow open this ordinary way of seeing children’s power by holding parents’ hands together with their children to create an ecosystem of learning where everyone can remain empowered, thrive, feel supported and grow new confidence. I’m reminded of a quote by Nicollette Sowder:
“To raise a nature-bonded child is to raise a rebel, a dreamer, an innovator… someone who will walk their own verdant, winding path”
I hope in this vein you might find a nugget of inspiration here...
Covid has brought about huge changes in our lives. Origins of these changes have often laid outside our control, but how we choose to respond, lies squarely within our control. Families across the UK are managing in any and every way they can through this pandemic. Most send their children to school and have been navigating emergency home learning alongside anxieties about ventilation, isolating, testing, working and covid bubbles bursting. It’s hard for many. It is also hard to be moving against that tide of ‘doing the normal thing’ too. But empowering kids is a need so strong in me, I feel it’s an essential, basic need and a human right.
In simple terms I am referring to personal power alongside others and inside yourself which allows you to take control of your life and make your own decisions. Power is like an orb of liquid metal at our centre which can be heated or cooled. This centre fills you with possibility and agency. Your power acts as the centre of gravity, like the molten core of the Earth, around which everything else balances. If someone tries to cool it, immediately you feel it. Your choices narrow and a sense of injustice and anxiety start coursing through you. You are rocked at your centre and in some instances those moments become significant trauma.
With a cooled core, growing up with that loss of power can feel like you are a small boat being thrown around by life’s big storms. You can feel out of control and directionless. Feeling heated in your power allows these storms to more easily move around and through you.
Maintaining that heated orb of power inside children is absolutely key for thriving in childhood and becoming thriving adults.
The deep complexities of trauma & power balance is not something I want to cover here, however I would like to use a light example: imagine as a child you were living in today’s world. You were expected to log on and attend lessons online at specific times of the day and complete all assignments given. There is no option. Then imagine there was an ‘opt in’ to lessons, where you have a choice to log into whichever ones were relevant to you and whatever time suits you. An outside observer would see you were doing exactly the same but your experience would be wholly different. Your choices. Your power.
In the ordinary world for children power societally lies with the adults and their choices are narrowed. This loss of young power affects us throughout our lives and when we become parents we can simply forget to question the systems which cool it. We play the game, selling ourselves the narrative that this is how we become happy, fulfilled adults. What if it’s not?
What if every child kept their power super heated?
What if we created an environment where the pen to write their own narrative was in their hands?
We'd love to hear your thoughts on the questions above. How do you think we can maintain and fuel children's power? Do you think children's agency is important? How? Why?
Please respond by:
Look forward to the final blogpost in this series next week!
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I’m Kath, a childhood freedom fighter. I’m still creeping through the gaps in the hedge to find the forbidden sprawling acres and climbing the oldest, knottiest trees for the view, the bugs and the ancient roots. I’ve been reimagining education and schooling for 19 years. Seeking to change things from the inside and then from the outside -I was an upper primary teacher in inner London and then taught the IB PYP in the Caribbean. My four young boys have been with me for pretty much every meeting while we set up Soweni in 2017, meaning thrive in Cornish, which is a social enterprise rethinking education for a sustainable world on the north cliffs of Cornwall.I’m a bit of a ruckus-maker and love connecting to many others-virtual and in reality so we can talk and walk the change we need for our children and many more generations to come.
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