Friday, February 5, 2010

Passing the Hat

Go ask your child what he learned in school this week. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Yeah, that's what I thought. It's in there, I promise. But it's trapped under thick layers of video game cheats and plot lines to every SpongeBob ever aired. The stuff they learn in school gets mired in mental quicksand, unless it's tethered to their heart. The limbic system of the brain controls thinking and learning; emotion is its on/off switch. If we want to make kids think, first we have to make them feel.

Today my school had a fundraiser — Caps for a Cause. The kids were invited to donate money in exchange for permission to wear their favorite hat to school all day. The money would be going toward the relief effort in Haiti. But these are little kids, few of whom have crossed Piaget's invisible line from concrete learning to abstract reason. An earthquake? In Haiti? We may as well be speaking French as we try to explain what that could possibly mean to a bunch of kids in Arkansas. So we got concrete. The day before the event, we showed them a video of who they would be helping, and why — just graphic enough to give their little limbic systems a good jolt, but not raw enough to disturb them.

Five minutes later, every child in the building understood. They went home, carrying the children of Haiti in their hearts. And they came back the next day, determined to help. The $350 we collected isn't much, I suppose, in terms of what Haiti needs. But our kids learned something invaluable — we all matter; we are all powerful; we can change the world. All we need is the capacity to care.

It's not too late. Have you done something to show you care?


Anita DeCianni Brown said...

That's awesome! You know ~ when you put things in those terms, for kids, for adults, they do start to get it. Grass roots efforts add up! Heatly's Student Council is doing something (not sure of details yet) in regards to books for school or a library there. Helping out and having fun at the same time ... who can argue with that. Nice!

Anonymous said...

Thats Awesome Sue-
the Martin girls

Soozietoone said...

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

--Margaret Mead in action!