The logic you might hear from your elementary students might not be right, but a lot of the time, it’s definitely not wrong. Have you tried arguing with a seven-year-old that onion rings shouldn’t be called onion bracelets? I didn’t think so.
Concrete logic about abstract concepts is simply the child’s worldview.
I’m afraid we have let that tip slip through our fingers. The problem is that concrete understanding is completely inevitable, and we act like deer in headlights, not knowing how or why they “just don’t get it!” I was ready to begin teaching a new concept with my own class when it hit me.
“So, what is morality, guys?” I asked, waiting to see who had some prior knowledge that I could build on. They confidently responded by telling me that it was “something you learn from a book.” Oy, vey.
They were technically not wrong. They learned that a moral is a lesson from a story. They were learning academic knowledge in school, as they should. But as they were sharing their “moral of the story” logic, I realized that none of my students had even been introduced to the concept of morality. Not one.
After I wrapped up my lesson, I wanted to confirm: “None of you have heard these things before?” They answered with a resounding “No.” My heart sank.
Students in elementary schools are bombarded with phrases like “character counts!” Yet, we have not paused to teach them what character is to begin with. We are assuming too much about what they know.
Let’s pause a little in the classroom. Step in the little ones’ shoes, embrace the fact that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, and teach abstract concepts like morality, right from there.