Teaching Social Norms: Wrapping Up
This has been both a fun and informative series to write. I didn’t set out with an agenda beyond exploring how it is we teach social norms and giving a bit of a glimpse behind the curtain that is my teaching style. Throughout, I’ve been fascinated by the conversations that have emerged and offer some scattered thoughts in conclusion:
1.) Norms are important… there is no denying this. We may disagree on which norms ought to be taught and in what areas, but shared norms are what allow us to work together in a society. Even norms that are largely subjective or arbitrary, those which grew out of century-old needs and now carry on merely as tradition, have a purpose and place. But we must not lose site of what it is that these norms mean when we are teaching them.
2.) Perhaps more so than in any other curricular area, the teaching of social norms must be a blend between preparing children for the world as it is and situating them to create and live in the world as you would like to see it. One must simultaneously prepare children for success while also empowering them to make the world a better place.
3.) Norms are taught. Whether it is through explicit instruction or implicit modeling, norms must be taught if we expect children to demonstrate and follow them. And because the rationalization for many norms are beyond understanding for many young children, we must be patient and accepting of their errors.
4.) People are not always going to see eye-to-eye on what norms should be taught. This is both a blessing and a curse. If nothing else, help children to learn that different people will see things differently and they must be prepared to accept this.
I want to thank everyone for participating in the conversations and for the feedback. I wish I had a more succinct or profound closing but… I don’t. I started one day sharing some experiences in my classroom, wrote down some more, and I’ve gone about as far as I can with this particular subject at this particular time. So… that will be that… for now.
Of course, I won’t be done pontificating on the art and science of teaching. Oh, lord no. Many of you had other, related questions you were curious to see me write about relating to education, most of which I’ve forgotten. HOWEVER, if YOU remember them, put them in the comments and I’ll tackle what I can.