Hettinga and Galbraith’s essays support the idea of taking a step back to explore perspectives dfferent than one’s own in order to cultivate a space for surprises. Hettinga presents the misuse of cutting and pasting perspectives to shape an argument while dismissing the context from which it was first applied, particularly in fiction. Hettinga presents her concern; she states “Perhaps it is the academic critic in me that wants to worry about selections ripped out of their contexts and offered as touchstones of meaning. Such a technique is particularly problematic when the quotations are taken from fiction. Suddenly the values and authority structures established by the author as she created the narrative have vanished” (Hettinga, 2). Even citing these statements, I worry that I may have been guilty of that myself; I sincerely hope not. I hope I understood what she meant and that my thoughts in this paragraph are not too far from hers.
There is a danger with conviction when dealing with issues that humans are not equipped to understand through sense perception. Hettings states, “According to L'Engle, when we tenaciously devote ourselves to purely rational paradigms, we [construct] idols we can comprehend with our senses instead of waiting for the revelation of God in his own terms” (Hettinga, 5). On a similar, but not necessarily the same train of thought, I wholly appreciate Galbraith’s emphasis on considering what children need as opposed to what adults need children to be able to do. Sometimes adults forget to see children as individuals. The expectations are, in a sense, like the constructed idols; adults get wrapped up into thinking about their own standards for them, but when allowed to be themselves and trusted to be independent, children can be impressive all on their own—like “the revelation of God in his own terms;” there is, after all, a piece of God in each child.
Along the lines of not underestimating children (which seems to be something I naturally keep coming back to this semester), Galbraith mentions “a larger project to be with, support, and negotiate conflict with children without oppressing them” (Galbraith, 189). My heart lit up when I read this. At the Montessori school where I worked last summer, I remember the school director’s word choice about children using the bathroom. They didn’t call it “potty training,” they called it “bathroom independence.” Little ways of mindfulness like this particular difference reminds us that children, too, have a strong sense of dignity. Also, in their bathrooms, everything is children-sized, including the toilets. The ceiling is proportioned to their size, as well. This relates to Galbraith mentioning that “an emancipatory childhood studies approach begins where true children’s literature begins: with the existential predicament of childhood in an adult-dominated world” (200). In the classroom I worked in, children were very much in control of their surroundings and were able to be independent. Before being immersed in the Montessori culture, I was less mindful about children’s personal bubbles; when I met a cute two year olds, I would just pick them up and hug them. Now, I ask first. Also, I encourage them to walk on their own more so that they have control over their environment and I only pick them up if they ask for help or if they are in trouble.