Teaching and learning from preschoolers.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Doing Exactly What They Ought To Be Doing
He found the cart at the bottom of the hill, checking it first by squatting to get a closer look at the wheels as if to confirm,
Yes, it has wheels
Grabbing the cart with his fist, lacing his fingers through the basket because the handle broke off long ago, he pulled it behind him with one hand. From time to time he stopped to look at his cart as if confirming it was still there before continuing up the hill. He pulled then stopped then pulled then stopped until he was at the top of the hill where he turned around and pulled that cart back down the hill.
As he descended, he tried turning to look at the cart without stopping his momentum. It was challenging. He stumbled several times on the uneven ground without falling, concentrating on the act of keeping track of what was before him while simultaneously keeping track of what was behind him, all while moving back down the hill.
At the bottom he once more turned around and started back up the hill. By now he was quite competent, walking several stumble-free steps at a time while looking backwards, moving forwards. By now he seemed convinced that the cart was always still there: now it was the wheels that drew his interest, those wheels that had drawn him to this project in the first place.
I imagine he was thinking about how they turned, perhaps comparing the four wheels, finding them the same or maybe different. The cart is light enough that he sometimes lifted some of the wheels off the ground. When he looked back at those raised wheels, they were weren't turning at all. It's possible he took that in as well, but I don't know in the same way I don't really know what anyone is thinking or learning or feeling until they tell me, and even then I may not know.
It's not my job to know. It's my job to be here, watching, thinking. It was my job to provide the hill and the cart and the freedom to pull it up and down the hill.
Yesterday, a grandmother who has been working as a parent-teacher these past couple weeks said to me, "I figured it out. It's like in therapy. Our job is to just to listen to what they say and repeat it back to them." I'm proud that our school is a place where adults have that kind of epiphany.
And when they are not saying anything, when they are pulling a cart up and down the hill, teaching themselves how to do it, asking and answering their own questions, then it's our job to reflect that as well, to say nothing at all, not "Well done" or "Good job" or "Look at you!" but rather to simply watch and wonder and to know that they are doing exactly what they ought to be doing.
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