Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Musical Chairs and Cognitive Development

Not too long ago, it was fashionable to dis the childhood game of musical chairs. This dis even appeared in the comic "Family Circus." (From the Latin word circulus, from whence we get circle. No coincidence that the single frame cartoon appears in a circle.) Dolly, the daughter, is in tears because she didn't get a chair. Okay, now back to our posting. (For this we must rely on some familiar names.)
The teacher has the class playing musical chairs. Each child wants to win. Alas, Whoopi is the first to be left without a chair. Only, this is first grade so no one has yet taught her about feeling marginalized and low self-esteem. But Whoopi is encouraged to root for her good friend, Joy. So, Whoopi roots for her friend Joy.

In the next round, Barbara is eliminated. She, too, has not yet been taught to feel marginalized and low self-esteem. So, Barbara roots for her friend Sheri. Barbara and Whoopi learn a valuable lesson: they can disagree without being disagreeable.

But wait! In the next round, Joy is eliminated. Now, does Joy root for Elisabeth? Or, does Joy join Barbara in rooting for Sheri?

Ultimately, someone wins. The class learns a valuable lesson. They can root for people other than themselves. They learn that they can celebrate someone else's victory.

The following day, the class plays the same game all over again, and everyone gets a brand new chance.

What are some of the lessons we've learned?

1. We don't always win. We learn how to be a good sport. WE LEARN NOT TO BE SELFISH.

2. It isn't always about us. We can root for a classmate and don't need to feel marginalized and low self-esteem. We learn to focus on the feelings of others. WE LEARN EMPATHY FOR OTHERS.

3. We can disagree without being disagreeable. We can root for one classmate while a friend roots for another. WE LEARN RESPECT FOR THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS.

4. Ultimately, one of our classmates will win. We learn to cheer for one of our group even when we are not the one hogging the spotlight. WE LEARN TO ADMIRE THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF OTHERS.

5. Tomorrow, we play the game all over again. And everyone gets another chance. WE LEARN TO PERSEVERE, THAT WE GET A SECOND CHANCE, THAT WE CAN PUT A FAILURE BEHIND US AND TRY AGAIN.

Imagine, all those great lessons we can learn as little children. Those great lessons we learned as little children. But many of those lessons are not being taught. The game was vilified, trashed, and disrespected with a barrage of cliches, slogans, and platitudes. Then, when children grow up without those valuable lessons having been taught to them, the same people who caused the problem in the first place are out preaching the need to be sensitive, empathetic, and persevering. Isn't that special. The people who caused the problems with cliches, slogans, and platitudes, are trying to solve the problem with the same cliches, slogans, and platitudes. Don't tell me no!

Warmest regards,


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