Two scenarios, played out at different schools:
Scenario 1: A group of children are having a conversation about the birthday child, then drawing what they have agreed to make him for his birthday. While drawing the draft of the gift, a car, I noticed one child (we’ll call her Johnequa) getting very upset. She turned her paper over, crossed her arms and said “I don’t like this.” When I asked her why, she said “because it looks like a smiley face.” Johnequa had drawn her car like this (my sketch of her drawing):
I asked her to show me how she was looking at the car–from the top, side or bottom. She said side. I asked her to count the wheels, she said “four,” without counting. I asked her to point to the wheels and count “One, two….two, there’s only two, the other wheels are on the back.” Johnequa then redrew the car like this:
(Only more detailed, with TAXI written on the side). In my conversation afterwards with the teacher, she remarked how normally she wouldn’t take the time to revisit the drafts, that she really just wanted to get to a decision about what the birthday gift would be, especially since the birthday was soon and there wasn’t a lot of time to work on the gift.
Scenario 2: Another school, also working on a birthday gift. Children were deciding on one image out of many (60 or so) they had taken. Looking at the contact sheet, they wanted to cut them out and sort them. The teacher got out the paper cutter. When I asked why the children couldn’t cut them out, he said because children had cut through the images (in the past) when they did it with scissors.
I remember Giovanni Piazza, atelierista at La Viletta School in Reggio, talking to me about intelligent solutions–not tape instead of glue, not sticky paper instead of glue–yes, it is messy. Yes, there is a learning curve in terms of amount of glue to use, pressure for squeezing, where to put the glue, and so on, but if we give shortcuts and easy solutions to children, we short change them, and deny them the opportunity to figure things out on their own, deny them time to explore and master tools and techniques. WE find the solutions and solve the problems, instead of children.
Both scenarios remind me how important it is to take time, and to not focus on the end product. To enjoy the ride, and take time to smell the flowers. Every moment along the way is as important as the final destination…