The Four Children Revisited

Last year I wrote a reflection on the four children of the Passover haggadah, and where they fit into my own classroom. While I agree with a lot of what I said then, as with everything else in my classroom, my second year has brought about a new perspective.

The haggadah (the book used to guide the Passover seder) discusses four children alluded to in the Torah. There is the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the one who does not know how to ask. In some ways, each of these children is engrained in all of us. The way we react to different ideas and scenarios at different times might be characterized as wise, wicked, simple or dumbstruck. If each of these children exists alone, then they certainly are found in every classroom.

My reflection last year focused on the wicked child. The wicked child is a dangerous label to apply to a student, and yet undoubtedly most teachers can identify one in their classroom. The wicked child however, is truly a blessing in disguise, because they push us to the limits of our patience, originality and creativity, and make us stronger for it.

Where my thoughts on the four children have changed since last year is on the issue of ownership. That is, last year I did not take responsibility for the existence of these personality types in my classroom. These children existed in my classroom, I thought, simply because they were this way. I know feel that a master teacher has the power to bring out whichever children they want in their students. If my students were simple, wicked or did not know how to ask last year, it is because I did not show them how to be wise. By the end of this year and in the future, I hope that I will consider all my children wise, because I will have developed a classroom environment built on trust, risk taking and confident questioning.


Anonymous said…
I enjoyed reading what you had to say about the teacher's ability to bring out a certain kind of child in their students. As I'm learning, I have found it to be very important not to allow our preconceptions of students to get in the way of who they really are. Thank you for your insight; this will definitely stay in my mind when I'm put into my very own classroom.

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