Posted by: Roseann Murphy | June 21, 2011

Magda Gerber’s thoughts regarding people working in the child care field.

Magda Gerber’s thoughts regarding people working in the child care field.

(This is an excerpt of a speech given by Magda and published in the Educaring Magazine, Summer 1995)

“I would like to make the people who work with infants the most honorable and best paid—not overpaid, because it shouldn’t be done by people who do it only for the money.   Educaring should be done by very capable people who also make a decent living.  That is what I would wish for the future.

We can make it happen.  It won’t happen in weeks or even in months.  The politicians will not make it happen.  WE have to do it.  We have to do it.  We have to present ourselves like professional people who do a most important job, which we do.  Slowly, not in my time but in yours, this may have results.  Keep fighting for it.

Ideally, I believe that children should be raised in their own family, and, in my old-fashioned thinking, I would prefer a family with a mother and father and maybe siblings, you know that kind of old image.  But let’s suppose that image doesn’t exist.  Children should be surrounded by people who they trust will stay around, who give them this famous first security or trust.   I prefer to call security.  Trust on a higher level.  Security is almost a “body feeling,” for instance, the way you feel when you are picked up correctly.

Have you seen babies being carried and their heads were wobbling?  That doesn’t give a feeling of security.  Everything you do or don’t do influences how that baby feels.  I believe that if you do everything very, very slowly and if you always include the child, then the child feels he is an important person.  From birth on, you should try to include them.

  I believe that babies should not be taught because it usually interferes with learning.  An infant always learns.  They never stop learning.  This is a moderately boring room, but if you really look around, there is so much you can see.  Once, many years ago, I saw a child lying on the floor trying to catch something in a very dreamy, beautiful way.  I did not see anything, but I knew that the child saw something.  Only as I walked around did I realize that the dust in the air was creating a rainbow and that is what the child saw.  That stayed with me as a symbolic reminder so that now when people do things, I want to say, “That child may just see that rainbow—don’t interrupt, Wait.”

If you go away from this workshop with only one word, the word should be, “Wait.”  You will find out that many things get resolved on their own; even though you thought you had to help; the child really did not need your help.  We are child loving, too eager people, so we think, “Oh, poor baby would like to get that toy but cannot reach it,” so we push it nearer.  But the message we give is, “you need us.  We are all-knowing giants and you are a helpless little creature.”  That’s not the message I would like to give.  I wait until the child really lets me know, “I cannot handle it anymore.” And if that happens, it’s very important to know why.

From my observations, the one reason children cannot handle it is the state they are in.  Many years ago, there was much discussion of “states”    States meaning, is the child hungry, is the child tired?  More often than not, the child is tired rather than hungry.  Many children are fed when they are tired because they communicate they need something, so we feed them.  Our whole society disregards tiredness.  When you take a young child, they are not asleep for eight hours and they awake for eight hours as we adults are.  First they fall asleep, then they wake up a little bit, then they fall asleep again.  Because some people believe babies should be stimulated and taught, we don’t allow them to rest, unfortunately.  I believe that you cannot go wrong letting children rest when they need it and giving them a peaceful environment.  In a child care center, it is almost impossible to do that because there is coming and going, there is noise, there is too much light, there is too much everything.

So if you can, try to reduce stimulation rather than add to it.  Allow children to learn on their own, without interference.  Allow them to rest when they are tired.  Give them a feeling of security.  Wait.

The article ends with Magda’s beautiful signature    (Educaring Resources for Infant Educarers  Page 7)

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Responses

  1. “Wait”. What a beautiful one word statement! Magda Gerber really knew what she was teaching parents.

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  2. Really, really, really loved it! When I read Pikler, I feel admiration for her deep intelectual insights. When I read Magda Gerber, I can sense love and deep respect emanating from her words. It´s heart-touching! I copied some of her words for future posts and workshops.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

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  3. Actually, this post inspired me to create a new section in my blog. I already posted the first “Rescue Quotes” series using this one:

    I believe that babies should not be taught because it usually interferes with learning.

    There are so many profound truths expressed in her words! I think taking them slowly, little by little, one day I might apprehend its deep meaning.
    Love,
    Fer

    Like

  4. […] “Be careful what you teach the child, you may interfere with what he is learning. Once, many years ago, I saw a child lying on the floor trying to catch something in a very dreamy, beautiful way.  I did not see anything, but I knew that the child saw something.  Only as I walked around did I realize that the dust in the air was creating a rainbow and that is what the child saw.  That stayed with me as a symbolic reminder so that now when people do things, I want to say, ‘That child may just see that rainbow—don’t interrupt, Wait.’ ”  ~Magda Gerber  […]

    Like


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