Sunday, September 25, 2016

Genuine, Child-Like Curiosity

I had the privilege this past week of spending some uninterrupted time with my little (although rapidly growing) Owen. We chased Domino (our almost 10 year old black lab) around the living room, read some books, and had a few crawling races on the kitchen floor. It was on our third race that Owen took an unexpected turn left toward Domino's food bowls. Oh boy! I had rapid visions of an overturned water bowl all over the floor and an angry lab hovering over my 9 month old because someone was by her food dish without filling it up, and blah blah blah. I pulled myself off the floor as quickly as I could get up and moved towards Owen with every intent to pick him up and move him away from the bowl. But I was too late. I saw him as he slowly reached his hand into the water dish and just let his hand sit there in the water. And then, this happened (I'll spare you the 2 min video of this and just share 34sec. with you):

Empty bowl... ting ting ting... Full bowl... splash splash splash.... 

I don't know if was the "empty/full" or the "dry/wet" or maybe even the "noisy/quiet" concept that Owen was discovering but I couldn't take my eyes off of him! I was so proud in that moment. He was discovering something new. Unsolicited exploration. Genuine curiosity. Ongoing investigation. Noticeable results. It was all happening right there with a 9month old and two dog dishes. I've always been a secondary education teacher so watching someone so little learn new things has blown my mind multiple times, but this one really got to me. 

In that moment, I couldn't help but think about all the times as educators we have a plan in mind and lead students down our plan for learning (crawling races dog dish played). I realized how many times, in my own classroom, I was afraid to let students choose their own path for learning standards and skills for fear of them learning incorrectly or not exploring all of the information I thought they needed to learn (i.e. I didn't want them to make a mess of water on the floor or put them at risk of getting hurt by the dog). And in this moment of the dog dish discovery, I was wondering what learning opportunities I had robbed my students of for not letting them explore the standards and skills in a way that felt meaningful to them. 

As you enter into your week with students, I beg you... look at your agenda for the week. (No, seriously...go look at them. I'll wait.....)

As a student in your classroom who will be looking at those agendas, will I see a well laid-out plan that allows you (the teacher) to feel confident I am completing the tasks you want me to complete? or will I see some focused questions (aka "need to knows") identified to guide the week of learning with options for exploration to figure out my own responses/learning to those questions? 

From the viewpoint of a parent, I want my child...your student... to learn the necessary standards and skills in your class, but I hope you find the confidence and mental strength to continue to keep that child-like, genuine love of learning & curiosity alive by supporting my child in having voice and choice in HOW they learn about these standards and skills.

Peace, love, and hands-on-learning,

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