Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What a child taught me about human behaviour.

Today I came in for an early shift, and had to work with children in the morning Montessori classroom.

I was asked to work with a child who was working with Long Rods. The first time I asked the child, JM to show me the 'longest' rod, he refused.

In fact he just sat down there and did not look at me when I asked. This kept on for almost 10 minutes.

Then the children broke off for church service for about twenty minutes.

After that I was assigned back to him to work on the Long Rods. Getting a bit frustrated, I decided to use a different approach with JM.

I decided to play a game with JM, whereby I took the shortest rod and asked if it was the 'longest rod'. JM just laughed and said 'no, it's not'.

Then I pointed at another rod a bit longer than the shortest rod, and asked if it was that one. JM said it wasn't one, then finally pointed to the longest rod. He took the rod and arranged it on the other mat.

There was also a bit of hesitation in completing the rest of the activity but I told him, 'oh, if you don't help me, I can't do other work', and after a bit of more persuading, he completed the rest of the activity without situation.

After that, I thought about the episode.

Why did my first attempt fail, but my second attempt successful?

Was it a power struggle?

I brought this up with my Coordinator when I met her for discussion today.

In the first attempt, it was possible that the child may not want to do what I want where there may have been some 'power struggle' involved as he didn't want to do what I want.

It was his will against mine.

In the second attempt, I really went down to his level. Playing a game, and allowing him to be the 'clever one' gave him, or allowed him to assume the position of 'knowledge' or 'power'.

Which may have appealed to him, as he was 'teaching' the older one, or someone in position.

The same may apply for managing staff in a centre. Hence unqualified staff may be younger, and a qualified new supervisor may want to delegate some tasks.

However I would say this episode shows us that adults are not that much different from the child I worked with.

Supervisors have to 'speak on the same level' as the staff to communicate with them, and get them to do what she wants to delegate.

If the staff have a strong will, they may do like what the child, JM did. Which is doing the opposite of what is wanted.

So yes, learning to 'communicate' on the same level is an important skill that supervisors need. Or for anyone in an important position to succeed.

Sent from my Nokia phone.

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