Rainbow seen from the CE House
Posted on November 9, 2016
In CE, I pose challenging situations to the students that have actually happened and we brainstorm various solutions. There is only one blue marker and you and your classmate have your hands on it. How do you solve it? Somebody knocked over your block tower. How do you solve it? Someone said to you, "I'm not your friend anymore!"
The students gasp when I share that last problem. To them those words are equivalent to swearing. Unfortunately, that last situation is a little trickier to solve.
Here in CE we constantly practice identifying our feelings and why we feel that way. "I'm feeling happy because I have swimming today!...I'm feeling sad because my dog died...I'm feeling sad because it's raining and I wanted to go to baseball practice." This is such an important skill to have in life. Even as an adult, I will sometimes feel grumpy and tense. I have to stop myself to acknowledge (1) I'm annoyed and (2) figure out why so I can (a) choose the appropriate strategy to help myself feel better and (b) decrease the chances of me taking it out on an innocent bystander (driver in the next vehicle, my husband, etc).
In addition to identifying and verbalizing feelings, we also talk about how to solve problems. Thankfully our creative human brain can usually think of more than one way to solve a problem. We need to know how to think of various solutions because ideally it is a solution that both people can live with. In CE we view ourselves as problem-solvers.
When someone says to me, "I'm not your friend anymore," my gut response to those hurtful words are to hurt back. "I'm not your friend anymore EITHER!" Hm. Not very helpful if I'm trying to solve a problem.
Wouldn't it be more helpful to know why your friend is angry? What if you asked, "Why don't you want to be my friend?" Then you would know what the problem is and then you could solve it.
Let's turn that situation around. If I am feeling angry at my friend, rather than saying a hurtful blanket statement like, "I don't want to be your friend,"which doesn't solve problems at all and in fact makes the situation worse, I could tell my friend why I'm angry: "Next time can you wait for me?" or "Stop calling me a baby."
Admittedly, this is pretty advanced. I'll bet you can think of some adults who don't know how to do this. However, I was thinking that maybe if I continue to discuss it with the children, over the years eventually they would be able to understand and even be able to implement it during a time of duress.
I was just thinking about this activity (solving problems) since we are choosing a piece from CE to put into our iPad Evernote portfolios. And today a second grader told me the reason why she chose this particular piece was because she realizes when she says, "I'm not your friend" it doesn't help the situation. And she now knows to say why she's angry.
I could've wept. Seeing how it's been going all these months leading to the presidential election, no matter who won, our country was going to end up divided afterwards. If we have more children who grow up into adults who are willing to solve problems and feel confident in their ability to work with others and solve problems, the better off our country, our world, will be.
God bless America.