Dette gir meg gåsehud

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Den progressive pedagogen John Holt har mange spennende tanker. Har du for eksempel tenkt over hvilken skade vi kan forårsake ved å kalle barn søte når de prøver å få til noe?

To whatever voice in me says, «Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to pick up that dear little child and give him a big hug and kiss,» I reply, «No, no, no, that child doesn’t want to be picked up, hugged, and kissed, he wants to walk. He doesn’t know or care whether I like it or not, he is not walking for the approval or happiness of me or even for his parents beside him, but for himself. It is his show. Don’t try to turn him into an actor in your show. Leave him alone to get on with his work.»

We often think children are most cute when they are most intent and serious about what they are doing. In our minds we say to the child, «You think that what you are doing is important; we know it’s not; like everything else in your life that you take seriously, it is trivial.» We smile tenderly at the child carefully patting his mud pie. We feel that mud pie is not serious and all the work he is putting into it is a waste (though we may tell him in a honey-dearie voice that it is a beautiful mud pie). But he doesn’t know that; in his ignorance he is just as serious as if he were doing something important. How satisfying for us to feel we know better.

Eller at små barn ikke ser på seg selv som søte?

Because children do not think of each other as cute, they often seem to be harder on each other than we think we would be. They are blunt and unsparing. But on the whole this frankness, which accepts the other as a complete person, even if one not always or altogether admired, is less harmful to the children than the way many adults deal with them.

Much of what we respond to in children as cute is not strength or virtue, real or imagined, but weakness, a quality which gives us power over them or helps us to feel superior. Thus we think they are cute partly because they are little. But what is cute about being little? Children understand this very well. They are not at all sentimental about their own littleness. They would rather be big than little, and they want to get big as soon as they can.

Fra essayet: On Seeing Children as «Cute»

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