Defiance and creativity go hand in hand. – Bryant H. McGill
One of my favorite parts of teaching children is being able to see that defiance is an inherent part of being human. We want what we want, especially when it isn’t want they want. We have a desire to be our own person, to push back, to fight the norm. I think that defiance is a need that children should be able to have met.
When children come to school they wash their hands before entering play. It is the last few weeks of school, they are well versed in this routine. F came in, sat on the floor, and refused to wash his hands. I heard reasoning, debating, arguing, and finally h was given an ultimatum. It was clear no one could tell why he just wouldn’t wash his darn hands.
Defiance is beautiful. The defiance of power, especially great or overwhelming power, exalts and glorifies the rebel. – Edward Abbey
I got down on F’s level and said, “You know, sometimes I just don’t want to do what I am told to do. I get in a mood where I don’t want to do what I am supposed to; I feel rather defiant. Is that what you’re feeling today?”
F stopped, listened carefully and paused to consider my words before answering. “Yes, I am.”
I replied, “Ah, I see. I totally understand. I know it can feel really important to stand your ground and not do what others are telling you to do sometimes. If you don’t want to wash your hands, you don’t have to. But before you touch toys in the classroom your hands have to be cleaned. So you can wait and wash your hands when you’re ready or you can use hand sanitizer.”
F thought about his options for a few minutes before asking to see the hand sanitizer. I showed him how it worked, he got a squirt, and then went off to play.
Rebellion is when you look society in the face and say I understand who you want me to be but I’m going to show you who I actually am. – Anthony Anaxagorou
I think it is understandable that the youngest citizens of our world that are often pushed to the side, hushed, ordered around, and largely left unacknowledged would feel the need to push back and be heard.
I am not trying to imply that these children are facing such hardships that their acts of defiance or rebellion are acts of heroism, or equate the absolute need for social rebellion we have in our current society. I do however think that is important for us to encourage them to feel comfortable with their defiance, to know that they can stand their ground and have their voices heard.
When injustice becomes law resistance becomes duty.
Our world is filled with injustices. I want these children to grow up knowing they can stand up to injustice, and not only speak out but stand strong. That their defiance is not them simply being difficult.