Friday, January 18, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Dream"

My assistant and I have been talking about Martin Luther King Jr. during circle time. Last week we read a few books, put out some hand outs to illustrate, made peace necklaces and explained Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream for peace. I overheard several children casually discussing these facts as they worked on the various handouts. As these discussions continued over several days, I began to get a gut feeling that maybe the children were not correctly comprehending the history of this great man's life and his celebrated vision for the rights of all people. They were talking a lot more about his "dream."

Then I remembered a class discussion I had initiated the day we returned to school after the holiday vacation. I asked the children how their days began. "Is it a kiss and a nudge from a parent that awakens you?" I inquired. Many children agreed that this was indeed how their day began. But one child said, "Well, first I have a dream while I am sleeping. When my dream ends, I wake up."

After reflecting for a bit on this child's comment, I began planning on how to bring my concerns up during circle time. When we had finished singing a couple of songs, I started to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream for peace. I next asked the children, "What was Martin Luther King Jr. doing when he had this dream?" A flurry of hands went up. I selected an eager child to answer. "He was sleeping," she enthusiastically blurted out. Several other children chimed in with the same answer. "He was dreaming, Ms. Dyer. You dream when you are asleep," another child clearly stated.

Well, I had my answer. I then proceeded to ask if any of the children knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. "I want to be the best artist in the world," was one response. I used this hope to be something in the future as a springboard for discussing a vision, a goal, an aspiration, a dream. After the day ended, I felt confident that my four and five year had move towards understanding the difficult concept "to dream."

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