Thursday, 22 May 2014

Perspectives... art and philosophy, life and philosophy

Yesterday as we were walking past the horse sculpture I made the comment that it was broken... from the angle we were at it looked like a leg had snapped off... but when we came closer we sw that it was not broken but just folded underneath the horse... it got us thinking about how things look different depending on where you were standing... I asked the children if they were interested in returning to draw pictures of the horse sculpture... this was positively met by all the children...

Today we returned to the horse armed with pencils, paper and a watermelon picnic.

We began the session by standing around the horse and atlking about what we could see...

On one side you could see all four legs, from the other, just the one that was up in the air (the horse is lying down) - only some of the children could see the tail, and not all of the children could see the eyes...

What was interesting that for some of the children when I asked how many legs the could see automatically answered four - so I had to repeat - How many legs can you SEE, not how many legs does a horse have... this turned out to be tricky for a couple of the children who instead of observing just picked out the number four from their knowledge bank of horses. (Which makes me realise that we need to practice this skill of observing so much more)

The children were then asked to walk around the horse until they found an angle they felt happy drawing... each child found a spot quickly and with ease.

The drawing session did not last long (and for some was VERY quick) - some really enjoyed the challenge of looking closely and capturing it on paper... others just liked to doodle.

Afterwards we ate the watermelon and then went onto one of the local playspaces. There I was totally amazed by how the children had come up with a new strategy to use the zipline (as you know I don't help the children much more than encouragement and ensuring safety) - last week they struggled and struggled trying to get the zipline up so that they could ride it... Today they used a totally different technique - and it worked - they could play TOGETHER with the zipline. (apparently earlier in the week when I was sick the children had watched some older children use the zipline and seen how they solved the problem of getting the line to the starting point). Obviously their observations skills are working fine in this area of their learning!!

In the afternoon one of the children challenged the fact that the teachers had (birthday) cake in the staff room (they saw it) when the children are not allowed cake and sweeties at preschool. I asked if they would like to discuss that together... and they did... so we sat down and took it philosophically...

"Why are adults allowed to eat sweets and cake at preschool and children are not?" (thinking pause)

O - because of... when teachers say that one can't eat sweets... sometimes adults give sweets to the teachers and don't know that sweets are not allowed.
(does everyone understand what she means? - half nod, half shale their head)
S - she means that only adults can eat chewing gum, sweets and ice-cream - and the others want to eat sweets
(is this what you meant? - shakes head)
A - she means because adults are allowed to eat sugar
(O shakes her head again)
O - I mean that preschool teachers say that we cannot have sweets and cake at preschool, and then comes people that give them sweets and cake - maybe they don't know the rule or something. Then the teachers should say stop or something - or ask the children if they want some.
(does everyone agree - all do except for one child - why don't you agree?)
Sa - because.... I don't know
O - I think it is mean
(we talk about what does the word mean ("taskigt")  mean and if everyone was in agreement... everyone was)

"Why do you think the adults do not offer you sweets at preschool?" (thinking pause)
Sv - because then - because one is allergic and then you can't eat
Sa - but I am not allergic to sweets actually
S - me neither
(no-one was allergic to sweets it turned out. Sv looked sad... you came up with a thought which we have explored... its good to have ideas and to think about them - Sv looked satisfied - we returned to the question... was there another reason?)
A - because we don't eat sugar, because schools don't eat sugar
O - why can't we eat healthy things that have a little bit of sugar in them?
D - (talked in a mix of three languages, Swedish, her native tongue and probably some made up... it was beyond my translation skills today - so I asked (rather nervously) is anyone else could explain what she meant)
O - I think that she said ornage - and that she thinks that there should not be so many sweets - and that its just that way
(is that what you mean... D nods with great satisfaction, O grows three sizes bigger with pride for understanding)

At this point I ask if the children would like to continue the dialogue another day... as I start to see restlessness. I had been "tough" with the children keeping them to topic, interrupting when they started to talking about something else, saying I would listen to that later, but for now we were exploring these questions... I also insisted that the children talk to each other and not to me - this made a HUGE difference for a few of the children who really directed their words to their peers, rather than me.

In the afternoon we went back outside into the sunshine and I got to see the delight of a one year old (non walker) exploring sand - and the beauty of being quiet and just watching the very many different ways that it could be picked up, held, squuezed, run through fingers under close observation

the one year old exploration of sand can teach you many things...
to see the complexity of sand... the many coloured individual grains...
the speed sand can fall depending on the angle of the hand...
the temperature of the sand depending on the weather (today it was lovely and warm)
can it be squeezed and made smaller?
and why does it stick to fingers covered in drool?
Slow careful observations by child and teacher...

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