#JoyOfLearning Articles from @LGoodman222 + @easycda + @ValerieStrauss on #Play, #Math + Imagination
Today I have three more articles related to children's need for play and maintaining the spark of the joy of learning. The first is by Laura Goodman, about trying not to quench the spark of imagination in kids. The second is from Deb Pierce, encouraging parents to let kids engage in "messy play". The third is a post by Petra Bonfert-Taylor, shared by Valerie Strauss in Answer Sheet, asking parents and teachers NOT to complain to kids about being bad at math. All three struck me on a personal level. I hope that you find them useful.
Laura Goodman: "to allow a child’s mind to grow to its full potential, we must attend not only to the intelligence of his mind by imparting knowledge, but to his imagination as well. The reason is this: Only by feeding the imagination of a child, can we help him create pathways to find answers to all of the questions he has yet to ask. In fact, only by engaging the imagination, can he ask the questions that don’t yet exist...
How do we then, as a society, encourage the growth of imagination? In the same manner as our ancestors; we must tell our children stories, give them space to play, and allow them time to create."
Me: This post by Laura Goodman is about how we, as parents and as a society, should be nurturing the spark of imagination in kids, rather than little that spark die as a byproduct of the quest for intelligence. Which is exactly what I've been trying to get at with my whole pivot on this blog towards "joy of learning." When I see my child's innate excitement about learning new things threatened by dry math worksheets or overly structured book reports, I'm instinctively terrified. I don't want to see that spark, whether you call it imagination or joy of learning or whatever else, die.
Deb Pierce: "As teachers of young children, the best we can do is model our own exuberance for play and discovery and provide opportunities for parents to experience it themselves. And, it never hurts to explain how important it is for children to engage in messy activities, using all their senses. This is exactly how a preschooler learns best. So, leave the special clothes and shoes at home and dress your child so he can get into things at school and be happy doing so. And, stop worrying. All of those rich experiences are forging new and critical connections in his brain- connections that will never happen looking out a car window in a white sweat suit."
Me: This piece, written by an early childhood education professor, resonated with me because, while I completely agree in spirit, allowing messy play is hard for me. I don't like mess. I don't care so much if my kid comes home from a camping trip all muddy, but I don't want to get muddy myself. And I'm bothered by mess around the house (paint, kitchen experiments), even when I know that the activities are good for my daughter. So, this was a good pice for me to read, and this is something for me to keep working on ...
Petra Bonfert-Taylor (quoted by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post): "Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math? Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading. Our country’s communal math hatred may seem rather innocuous, but a more critical factor is at stake: we are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics and with that are priming our children for mathematical anxiety. As a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution...
You do not need an innate mathematical ability in order to solve mathematical problems. Rather, what is required is perseverance, a willingness to take risks and feeling safe to make mistakes."
Me: I grew up working in my dad's hardware store. The cash register was an old-fashioned one. I learned at a very early age to calculate the 5% sales tax in my head and to figure out the correct change for people. I don't think that "hating math" or even being bad at math were options. I'm grateful for this, and very conscious of keeping math something that my daughter sees as a positive thing. I can only hope that she doesn't run across teachers who profess to be bad at math, and thus give her other ideas.