Experts Weigh In on the Meaning and Importance of Authenticity in a Child's Life

boys hands.jpg

As the Children’s Arts Guild gears up for its 2nd Annual Professional Development Conference, ‘Children + Authenticity: Exploring the Heart of Education’, taking place on October 22 + 23rd in NYC, we’d like to share key takeaways from a few last year’s speakers on the topic of Authenticity. First, what it is and why is it important? What does it mean for an individual, and for society as a whole? How can we better practice it in our everyday life, and most importantly, how can we teach children to understand and practice authenticity as well?

Alexander Kopelman, CEO & Cofounder, Children’s Arts Guild, reveals how and why the the Children + Authenticity Conference originated:

“In our creative education programs, we give children opportunities to connect with their experiences through art-making and creativity. What we observe is that all too often children struggle mightily with how they experience themselves and what they perceive others want of them. For many children, striving to meet external expectations comes at the expense of learning about themselves and developing a set of their own internal expectations. The conference is designed to develop a deeper understanding of how to help children think critically about external expectations and how to build and nurture a connect with their innermost selves.”

Brian Goldman Ph.D, social psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Clayton State University, explains the concept and practice of authenticity in everyday life:

Authenticity is not something that you have, it’s something that you do. It is not a single action at a given moment in time, it’s an accumulation of the life story of that interchange of the choices we make and the fit between the person and the environment. Authenticity is universally relevant, and it cuts across different cultures and backgrounds”

Megan Laverty, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Acting Director, Philosophy and Education Program, Teachers College, Columbia University, on the potential of children’s moral philosophy and their ability to teach adults:

“If children could express themselves articulately and sincerely they would tell a very different story than the one we attribute to them. The child is not a provisional human being on the way to adulthood. Rather, children, like adults, are endeavoring to live better, more meaningful lives with the potential for wisdom and the ability to shape our adult understanding of how to live life.”

Kevin Jennings, Executive Director, the Arcus Foundation and Founder, GLSEN, shares how to strengthen ties between the adult and child:

"When we are authentic with kids, we enable kids to be authentic with us. And that is the first step to building a truly meaningful adult-child relationship that fosters well-being and learning. When young people can be themselves, they can fulfill their potential. When they can’t be themselves, they can’t. It’s as simple as that."

Stephanie Turner, Ph.D., PMP, Deloitte, LLP outlines the impact of hiding one’s true self in the workplace later in life:

Authenticity and uncovering it in the workplace is a bottom-line imperative. Employees are not going to be committed to an organization if they do not feel that they can come in and show up as they are, who they are, without managing their identity (which can take time away from productivity and groundbreaking ideas). They are going to leave. If every leader was brave enough to show up to work and uncover who they are, what would that do to our workforce and what would that do to impact the world that we live in?”

This year's conference, “Exploring the Heart of Education,” will again bring together an impressive line-up of experts to help educators understand the role of authenticity in children’s development as lifelong learners, discuss the personal, social, and economic utility and value of authenticity and develop practical tools to help children tap into their authentic selves inside and outside the classroom.  To register and learn more about the 2017 conference, click here.