Adam and Jaimee were playing one day in the school playground. Adam was on the swing. Jaimee wanted to go on the swing but there was only one. So she asked Adam, "Can I go on the swing?"
Adam replied, "No."
Jaimee really wanted to go on the swing so she sought the assistance of Ms Simons, the teacher on duty.
"Ms Simons, Adam won't let me go on the swing," she said.
"Did you ask nicely?" replied Ms Simons.
"I did," said Jaimee. And so it was.
"Okay, let's go and see what's going on."
And with that Jaimee led Ms Simons to the swing.
"Adam, do you think you might give Jaimee a turn on the swing?" said Ms Simons.
"But I want to go on the swing too," replied Adam.
"But Adam, its important to let others have a turn with the equipment in the playground. Sharing is caring, remember?"
Reluctantly, and after a little more coaxing, Adam agreed to let Jaimee have the swing and he went off to find something else to play.
The next day in the playground, Jaimee was on the swing.
Adam really wanted to go on the swing, so he went up to Jaimee and said, "Jaimee, can I go on the swing?"
"No." said Jaimee.
"But sharing is caring!" Adam decried.
Alas, Jaimee could not be persuaded. So Adam sought the help of Mr Bell, the teacher on duty that day.
"Mr Bell," he said, "Jaimee won't share the swing!"
"Did you ask he nicely?" asked Mr Bell.
"Yes, I did,"
"Well let's go and see what's going on, shall we?"
They walked over to the swing.
"Jaimee, do you think you might like to share the swing with Adam?"
"But I'm not finished swinging," said Jaimee.
Adam cried, "Sharing is caring, Jaimee!"
"That's true," said Mr Bell, "Sharing is caring, Jaimee, and its important to care for our friends here at school. How about you let Adam have a turn on the swing?"
Reluctantly, and after a little coaxing, Jaimee agreed to share the swing with Adam.
A few days later, in the classroom, Adam noticed one of the other children drawing with a most wonderful pen. It was adorned with feathers and from its end the ink ran all the colours of the rainbow. Adam liked drawing, and rainbows, so he decided to have a turn with the pen. He went up to the child who was using it as said, "Can I use that pen?"
"No, its mine from home," said the child.
"But sharing is caring," responded Adam.
And so it went. Adam noticed things he liked and wanted and went about acquiring them by way of the Law, Sharing is Caring. For Adam, this Law meant he was able to get what he wanted from others, for they were obliged to care for his wants and desires. For Adam, sharing meant taking from others what he wanted.
Intuitively this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of Sharing is Caring. Yet the intentions of the teachers in attempting to apply the Law were sound. So what went wrong? How did sharing come to mean taking?
One way to better understand how it happened is to consider on whom falls the burden of proof. In the case of Adam and Jaimee, it was for the one without the swing to prove that the one with the swing was not sharing. Thus sharing becomes a course of action available only to the one without. However, it is the one with who is ultimately the sharer, the person responsible for performing the act of sharing. So there exists a fundamental separation between the desire for action and the will to act. The former is linked to wanting what the other has, and the latter is imposed on the one who has it rather than arising from his or her own volition.
The solution is simple. It requires a shift in perspective and a corresponding amendment to the Law. The phrase 'Sharing is Caring' fails to capture the essence of what is involved in both sharing and caring. In practice this Law defines sharing as taking and caring as acquiescence. But what if the terms were redefined?
Consider the following: Sharing is GIVING not TAKING.
Application to the Facts
Jaimee is on the swing. Adam wants to go on the swing.
"Jaimee, can I go on the swing?" asks Adam.
"No," says Jaimee.
Adam seeks the help of Mr Kirby. "Mr Kirby," he says, "Jaimee won't share the swing with me!"
Mr Kirby smiles, "Adam, I can see that you want the swing, and it would be nice if Jaimee would give you a turn, but remember that sharing is giving not taking. While you wait for the swing you might like to find something else to play with."
Adam walks off a little disappointed, perhaps even a little angry. That's okay. Mr Kirby walks over to the swing alone.
"Jaimee, I noticed that you are using the swing," says Mr Kirby, "that's great! There is only one swing in the playground and right now it is yours. Remember that sharing is giving not taking, so when you're ready, you might like to try giving the swing to someone else. When you do, try using their name and say something like, 'would you like a turn on the swing?'"
Of course in the beginning this kind of conversation might seem a little contrived. But our aim is to change the culture of sharing to be one of giving not taking. It might be useful to ask children questions about how it feels to give things to others. In the case of enforced sharing, children may experience negative feelings associated with giving. Our aim should be to create environments in which giving is associated with positive feelings and self-determined will.
Teaching Sharing is Giving not Taking (Creative Arts Workshop)
In groups of 7 children,
Each child is given a paintbrush or crayon of a different colour (one of seven colours),
Each child is also given a blank piece of black or white card.
Seated in a circle the children are told the following story:
A long time ago there were no colours. Everything was black or white. It was peaceful but also a little boring. One day a group of children were sitting in a circle and their teacher gave them each their own special colour. The child with yellow was only only one who could give yellow to the black and white worlds. The child with blue was the only one who could give blue to the black and white worlds. At first the children began making colour marks in their own worlds with their own colours.
Allow some time for the children to draw with their own colours on their own pieces of card. After a while return to the circle and continue the story.
Now there was some colour in the worlds of the children. But each child only had one colour. The child with yellow noticed that the child with blue might want some yellow in her world, so she went over and offered him some yellow for his world.
Get the corresponding children to act out this part of the story, using the words, 'would you like some ______ in your world?'.
The child with red noticed that the child with green might want some red in her world...
Again, have the children act out this part of the story. Then allow some time for the children to go around offering their colour to others.
At the end of the activity collect all of the worlds and display them on one board. Return to it from time to time to retell the story of the children who gave colour to the world.