Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Love this... "Using Just the RIght Amount" by Teacher Tom

When I read Teacher Tom's entry on "Using Just the Right Amount" I had to laugh. His story really resonated with me about how freely glue flows in the hands of a preschooler. Then I realized that his story represents what I would call "Preschool Materials Engineering."

Picture from Teacher Tom's Article

"This is why when a child dumps an entire bowl of googly eyes into a lake of glue then empties a shaker of glitter onto it, I no longer see waste. In fact, I know she is using just the right amount."

A lake of glue, an entire bowl of googly eyes - the use of materials and learning about how they go together as well as learning about where the materials are sourced from (recycle bins? Thrift stores? Target?) are exactly what preschool materials engineering students should be focused on.  It is another opportunity to see STEM in the catastrophic mess of preschool play.

Response: "American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist"

There is a wonderful OpEd on Wired this week. It is about the need for citizens to learn how to discover. As I read it, I thought how sad it is that the discovery process is taken away from children as they move through a traditional K-12 system in the US. I suspect overworked teachers, crowded classrooms, and children who are not encouraged to connect personally with the material all contribute to the perpetuating the problem. Luckily, with our preschoolers we can revel in discovery - theirs and ours - for a handful of years before entering Kinder.

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You should read the entire article but I will give you a snippet here:
"We “learn,” and after this we “do.” We go to school and then we go to work.This approach does not map very well to personal and professional success in America today. Learning and doing have become inseparable in the face of conditions that invite us to discover."

Preschoolers are experts in learning by doing. Almost everything they do is "doing" from stacking blocks, to riding tricycles, to scribbling, painting, and molding. The important thing for us to do as parents is to step back and let our children do their things in peace. The more practice they get at being on their own, learning to discover, enjoying their experiments without us butting our noses in, the better equipped they will be to maintain that skill in years to come.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thinking in Pictures - Vision for the Future

"Pyramids, cathedrals, and rockets exist not because of geometry, theories of structures, or thermodynamics, but because they were first a picture-- literally a vision--in the minds of those who built them... 

...Society is where it is today because people had the perception; the images and the imagination; the creativity that the Arts provide, to make the world the place we live in today." ~ Eugene Ferguson