Get them talking!
One of the most important aspects of the Fulton Method are the discussions we have at the very beginning of every class when we get into the second and third phases.
I begin to have very serious conversations with my students about aspects of our daily lives. I try to bring to the forefront things that may be in the back of their minds or topics that are prevalent around them at any given moment in time.
For example, in 2020 politics has been on everyone’s mind, even kids. I find myself having to explain to them why our President’s tweets are immature and toxically offensive. Try having to explain to children why the president is behaving in ways they get in trouble for. I’m not trying to get political here. I’m really not. I’m simply trying to explain that in my class, no subject is off the table. Everything that is on their mind is fair game for an open and honest group discussion.
This is an incredibly handy tool that has been a very important part of every student’s experience in my class. Often their appreciation for these discussions are expressed by different students at different time. One thing that is helpful is that as a teacher you open your ears to the buzz going on around you whenever they get together as talk. Or simply ask them a question about their school life, or things they are hearing about concerning any current social issue in general. I always find that whenever one addresses a specific topic that is prevalent in our society which affects them personally, other kids from other schools chime in in solidarity. That’s how I know when I really hit a hot topic.
Whenever this happens, take you mind off of the clock and focus on the discussion. I can’t tell you how important this is. This is a time when they learn to open up as they all want answers in an intelligent conversation. Talk to them as if you were talking to another adult. After all, if you listen, that is how they talk to each other. They may have their own immature moments. They are still kids and they are still looking at the world with their current developmental stage. However, that doesn’t at all negate their curiosity or need to understand what is happening around them.
More often than not, when kids do finally ask an adult about what is happening regarding certain social issues, they are asking one specific adult who very often answers them with their own perspective. This is why the group discussion is so important. Every kid is coming from different households and you don’t know the climate of the chatter their picking up on. So when the discussion happens, they are able to achieve a much more in-depth conversation with points and counterpoints that can often become very deep and intense. Whenever this happens get out of the way, and let it ride as long as it takes.
Not only does this expose the kids to the fact that everyone’s opinion matters, it also teaches them to defend their point of view and why it’s valid to the discussion. Very often the other students are exposed to different perspectives they may or may not have considered and really begin to look at any given topic from different angles and perspectives. That eventually become a habit. Once they are exposed to ideas that they had not considered they begin to question the completeness of their own perspective, and begin to learn how to take into real consideration that new aspect of the conversation. They begin to feel that resonance of agreement/disagreement within themselves and feel the need to speak up and respond with another challenging perspective to also be considered by the group.
I cannot tell you the magnitude of how important these conversations can truly be.
Because with every discussion we have the kids learn how to respect other’s opinions and agree to disagree with each other with complete acceptance. They learn that others still deserve respect even though they don’t agree and are able to carry on just as they always did without judgement of the other person. They learn how not to think less of someone because they hold a different perspective on any given subject. They learn to understand and accept each other on a deeper level.
It is also imperative that right after the discussion we get up and play. Because this allows them to experience that no matter how divided their perspectives may be on any given subject, they can still improvise on a unified front which requires teamwork in order to be successful. They learn that just because they disagree on something, doesn’t mean that their fellow player doesn’t still have their back and through agreement will play an integral part in the work’s success, with all the satisfaction and joy (not to mention any lessons) that they can potentially get out of every game or scene they play.