Items filtered by date: January 2022

Monday, 17 January 2022 17:57

Stuffies Get Stuck--Real World Work

     Over the course of this school year, three distinct, yet similar dramas have played out.  Here's what happened. 

     I.  The first time it happened, Kindergarten had spent the day at Agraria.  We set up our circle area on clay benches that sit under a flat roof held up by four posts.  As we were packing up for the day, some Kindergartners were playing with a stuffed cat--tossing it in the air and catching it, when it landed on the roof.  The children let the rest of us know.  Many ideas were suggested.  Could Lexi or I reach it?  We couldn't.  How about a ladder?  We didn't have one.  A stick?  As we were searching for an appropriately long stick, Lexi went to the barn and returned with a long butterfly net.  The children cheered and commenced taking turns using the net to rescue the cat.  No Kindergartner could reach it.  I took a turn, while the Kindergartners backed up far enough to see the cat and direct me to move the net toward the cat.  I was able to almost, but not quite reach the cat.  "Lexi!" the children suggested.  And she did it--using the net, she pushed the stuffed cat off the roof.  The children cheered again!  Success!  A Kindergartner and his stuffy were reunited!

    II.  A month or more later, some Kindergartners were attempting to toss their stuffed animals through the basketball hoop on the cycle side of the playground.  They cheered each animal that made it through.  When a large stuffed dog got stuck, a Kindergartner tossed a basketball at it from below, until it was dislodged and fell to the ground.  A short time later, against all odds, a small stuffed dog, who had made several successful trips through the hoop, got its collar hooked on the metal upon which the net hangs.  There it stuck.  Basketballs repeatedly thrown, bumping it, failed to bring it down.  A hobby horse was retrieved from inside, and Kindergartners took turns trying to get it loose using the horse to no avail.  A couple of Younger Groupers stopped nearby and observed.  The Kindergarten children asked me to try to get the dog down.  I turned to the Younger Groupers, "Would you like to try?" I invited.  Without a word, one of them approached with a small smile, neatly jumped up, grabbing the hoop first with his hands and then with one hand and his feet.  With his free hand, he unhooked the dog's collar.  He jumped back down with the stuffed dog in his hand and was surrounded by a cheering cluster of Kindergartners.  Another heroic rescue!

III.  After winter break, Kindergartners were spectators to another stuffy rescue.  This time, while Kindergarten and Nursery children were on the porch eating snack, a few Younger Group children, at the far end of the porch, were playing a game of throwing a stuffed cat, attempting to get it high enough to touch the underside of the porch roof.  In a demonstration of physics and force, on one throw the cat ricocheted off the underside of the porch roof and onto the roof of the building and out of sight (from our perspective).  The Younger Group children quickly conferred.  They needed a ladder and a grown up to get on the ladder and get the cat.  Off they went and returned a short time later with Nathan, who looked at the roof where the cat had disappeared.  He wasn't sure the ladder would be high enough, but he would bring it and see.  More Younger Group children gathered waiting.  Elaina joined them.  They began backing out onto the grass, until they could see the stuffed cat's position.  Nathan brought the ladder, climbed as high as he safely could, but couldn't quite reach.  He disappeared into his office and emerged with a grabber.  With directions from the Younger Groupers, he used the grabber to knock the cat down to the porch.  The Younger Group, Kindergarten, Nursery--everyone present--erupted into cheers and applause.  Yet another successful stuffy rescue!

     "Real world problems", generally meaning an assignment that has implications in the real (as in adult) world, is currently an en vogue term in some educational circles.  It includes projects like raising funds for relief work, collecting data for scientific studies, and studying and proposing solutions for societal problems.  This type of work has its place at The Antioch School, though the impetus for it comes from the children.  Stuffies getting stuck, however is an actual real world problem for children.  They created it and are most invested in solving it.  As an adult, I avoid tossing items I value towards high roofs.  I observed each of these incidents as they developed and made a conscious choice not to interfere.  My work as a teacher is to support children in doing and learning from hard things, not to prevent them from experiencing them (serious safety issues aside, of course).  Figuring out what to do when stuffies get stuck can help children know they can do hard things--together with their community.  I choose and love to be a teacher here, because it's a place where children scrap their knees learning to roller blade and have conflicts with their peers.  And yes, it's a place where stuffies get stuck.

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