Support mania

Mathias Maurer

Parents and teachers, day carers and kindergarten teachers – all act with the educational purpose and hope that such development of the potential of children and young people will happen in front of their eyes, like the emergence of a butterfly from the cocoon. Such an expectation is justified – but the higher it is, the harder any possible falls. For expectations can exert pressure. And children sense that and instinctively defend their own identity and individual development, even if from an adult perspective they diverge from the normal trajectory and get going at the wrong time.

The question to ask is therefore: what do I carry within myself as an adult by way of ideas and images, what do I consider worth developing? Am I subject to concealed optimisation pressure? Where do I support myself and what do I experience as supportive of myself? Where do I feel that I am not challenged enough? Does a challenge demand too much of me or does it help me to grow beyond myself? Do I reach out a loving helping hand to myself in my own developmental endeavours, also when I fail, in the same way I would wish for every child?

We will quickly notice how we have to fight against ideas of standardisation, premature judgements, against our own inner executioner, and how we have to defend and keep restoring the space on which every development and evolution depends. The first thing we thus have to consider is to extend our inner developmental space.

Overblown expectations of ourselves and the children are no help to development. We now have to take support measures – a revealing formulation because it has a sense of enforcement and narrowness about it, of artificially inducing a development, the opposite of supportive developmental spaces. The general support mania cutting through all the establishments where children are educated and brought up is an expression of the waning confidence in our own forces of development and those of the children.

This, therefore, is where our greatest challenge lies.