Children

“We say all children are rich, there are no poor children. All children whatever their culture, whatever their lives are rich, better equipped, more talented, stronger and more intelligent than we can suppose.” Loris Malaguzzi

If care for the present is the heart of our project, a deep trust in children is its soul. Trust in their intelligence, competence, and creativity.  Trust in their kindness, compassion and empathy. Trust in their integrity, honesty, and resilience. Above all, trust in their capacity to make good decisions about their lives and contribute meaningfully to our/their worlds.

 

When we first started doing this work, this trust was a matter of faith. The experience of others gave us good reason to believe but we had never really seen with our own eyes. Now, with many years of democratic education between us, our trust in children has been so resoundingly and repeatedly rewarded that we forget we were ever less than completely certain, or that most adults do not trust children at all.

 

The ideas our culture holds about children, upon which their education is based, are corrosive to humanity; children are ignorant and need instruction, children are sinful and need discipline, children are fragile and need protection, and so on. The danger of these ideas is not that they are wrong, although they are, but that they are self-fulfilling; we instruct children into ignorance, discipline them into rebellion, and protect them into fragility.

 

Childhood is not a state of deficiency that needs remedy, nor a waiting room for adulthood. Children are complete, complex people living rich and meaningful lives here and now. Treating them as such is not only fundamental for their well-being and development, it is critical for the project of human liberation and the health of our society and planet. When we find the courage to suspend our fears and offer trust and support instead of judgment and control, we will be amazed by the people we find in front of us, the world we can create together, and the adults they eventually choose to become.