I should really go to bed but I wanted to jot this down quickly as I think it illustrates the path I am on as somebody who is talking a lot of good game about PLAY and CHILD CENTERED everything but still has a lot to unlearn. Lisa Murphy asks, “Do we view education as the filling of a bucket or the lighting of a fire?” To be honest, I strive to operate each day as if I am lighting a fire, but I constantly catch myself in a bucket-filling mindset at different times throughout the day.
Today I brought in a lot of boxes I had at home and some masking tape. Without even realizing it I came in with the bucket filling mindset. I thought the children would have so much fun if I made them a huge house or a tunnel or something else. Naturally I assumed I would need to basically build it so it would be sturdy enough to play with for a while. Since I like to think of myself as thoughtful though I would show them where to put the tape.
About 90 seconds into doing this I realized I was being completely stupid. My 2 and 3 year olds simply wanted to put tape anywhere on the the box and thought this alone was a great activity. I am happy that I had the presence of mind to catch myself and not get in the way of this! None of them could tear the tape themselves so I ended up ripping a small notch and letting them tear off the rest. They would then use both hands to apply it somewhere on the box. Some declared they were building a castle and at another point two other kids said it was a rocketship and a house. One girl brought over some coloured pencils and started decorating it and others followed suit.
Pulling at the semi-torn tape seemed to be a good challenge for their strength. Most had to pull quite a bit. Putting the tape on was good practice for using their fingers with intention. Most importantly, they enjoyed it! I could be projecting but a few of them were so excited that I let them use as much tape as they wanted. We kept the boxes out for most of the day and they did all the things we know kids do with boxes: sit in them, hide things in them, make forts and plenty I wasn’t around to witness.
If I stayed in the bucket mindset could have easily made them watch as I built an expertly constructed cardboard fort. They would have enjoyed my product but it would simply not have been the same experience and it would not have been their process. Kids need hand-on experiences to explore how things in the world work for themselves. I need to learn to trust them to explore things in the manner they choose and are able to!
We will leave the boxes and tape out tomorrow and see what happens!