Saturday, 23 March 2013

The child's agenda

The children have been exploring the concept of sinking and floating lately using the water trough. K came up with the theory that all wooden objects floated which inspired my set up the next day. I set up the trough with as many wooden materials I could find and added plastic animals as a provocation.

J was the first to discover the provocation in the water trough and I observed him as he began to engage in dramatic play. This was exactly what I expected would happen! J was expressive as he chased the animals around the trough with the plastic alligator, snapping at them and yelling "I'm coming to eat you!". J's older sister T noticed my interest in what he was doing and went to investigate. After observing him for a little while she asked him "can I play with you J?". J was not phased by this and invited her into his play by handing her a dinosaur. T began to chase all the farm animals around the trough with her dinosaur, just like J was doing with the alligator, but it wasn't long before she began to take control. "We need to take everything out of the water now J..." she said and I gulped. I had spent quite a while setting up this provocation which only J and T had explored. However, I stood back and observed. What is T's agenda? I wondered. 

T began to splash around with her hands and then picked up an animal. "Its a swimming pool!" she proclaimed as she threw a dinosaur in to the water. J was unsure about this and stood frozen as if he wasn't sure what T wanted him to do. T sensed this and decided to bring the sticks back in to the trough. J went back to balancing the animals on the sticks and chasing them with his alligator but T now had a different agenda and I observed her closely as she began to balance the sticks on top of each other... "How can I make a bridge?" she asked J. J did not say anything, preferring to continue his play with the animals and T began to build her bridge. T struggled to make the bridge connect from one side of the trough to the other but quickly came up with ideas solutions which can be seen in the photographs...

T must have been working on her bridge for a good half hour before she excitedly told me "It has worked!". I was amazed at her perseverance and the fact that not once did she get frustrated even though the bridge repeatedly came crashing down. Instead she sought solutions and made repairs. 

As teachers, sometimes we need to throw our agenda out the window, because more often than not, the child's agenda is so much better! The environment really has acted as the third teacher here and my role was simply to observe and document this awesome learning experience for J and T.