Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dong Yi Kang / How to Win a Child's Heart/ Thursday 56

Dong Yi Kang / How to Win a Child's Heart/ Thursday 56

Starting my part-time occupation as a teacher teaching the little children of Gangnam, I realize that it is more than an education - it's a relationship. Children are intricate beings easily intimidated, and it's not hard to see that they tire out and get frustrated easily. After two study sessions with my 5-year-old student, I realized that it was pivotal to enhance my relationships with him, and work on ways to talk to the child.

The first thing that I had to work on was having conversations with the child. I realized after several hours that children shouldn't be considered as 'children', and will not accept explanations about things easily. They are genuinely curious about the world, and demand likely explanations. They ask the adults around themselves about their world, the phenomenons that occur, the people, the animals, and the situations. In answering their questions, I realized that the children are wise enough to realize that the adults are obviously lying. My student's parents had answered all the child's questions about why things happen as 'magic', and frustrated in the unsatisfactory answers, the child quit trying to ask questions, and shut his mouth tight, unavailable to conversation. So I took special cares to answer the child's questions in the most easy-to-understand, yet persuading ways. I told him my own stories and talked about my thoughts, and made sure that the child understood abstract terms and ideas. I made sure that the child is treated like a little adult, not an oblivious child that believes everything. 

The second thing that I worked on with the child was listening to his hopes and dreams. My student had been granted everything since his birth, and he only had to ask for things. However, things got a little messy as he entered kindergarten - there were many other children who wouldn't give in to his requests and tantrums. It was a disaster for my student, and he often came back home with new problems and worries. On his first unfortunate occasion, he got dumped by his girlfriend, Deborah. To the child's tearful story of how Deborah would no longer hold hands with him but play hopscotch with a new boy named David, I first brought in a Porsche assembly car to soothe the child. While assembling the Porsche 911 model, I heard him out and gave a sincere solution to his problems. He had not been expressing his emotions to his girlfriend, and girls needed tokens of love to actually be happy. I pointed out that when I asked if he wanted to give Deborah the pink elephant stickers that I brought to his study sessions, he said "she doesn't need that" and stuck the rest of the stickers to his folder. With this sincere piece of advice, he began to trust me more. On the second occasion, the theme presentation at his kindergarten required him to bring in homages of famous paintings and present it in front of the class. Because I was aware that his attention span is short, I created a spray-painting with him, and homage to Jackson Pollock. However, when he went to kindergarten on theme presentation day, he was stunned to found that all of his friends had modified the famous Mona Lisa, and he was the only one to bring in an abstract painting! Not only that, one of his classmates, a boy named Juwon had teased him that his painting looked like a 'scribble'. I had to soothe the child again, holding him onto my lap, and explaining that you just can't meet everyone's tastes and that his painting is rather refreshing compared to the 11 identical presentations about Mona Lisa. 

The last thing that I had paid attention to while building relationships was the carrot and the whip. Because I was his tutor, helping him do homework, I had to complete his homework, projects, and even journals with the child. Like all children, his patience ran out, and he needed motivation every 5 minutes or so. I tried gummy bears, stickers(children love stickers, I think it has something to do with the internal aesthetic sense that all human beings possess), and even toys. However, I realized that internal motivations are more effective than external motivation. External motivations, the physical compensations tended to last very short, and it even discouraged the child from working on his assignments when there were no more jellies or stickers left. On the other hand, internal motivation such as compliments and words of affection motivated the child to work further, and make my relationship with him more solid. 

My experience of teaching the child and trying to build relationships and conversations with him had taught me a lot about the psychology of human beings. It taught me that children are rather very intricate minds that could be easily offended and appeased, that children have their own hopes and dreams, that children demand rather detailed explanations about the world around themselves, and they need to be motivated considerately. 

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