First, a brief review of the weeks leading up to my new revelation...
All grade levels participated in this unit at an appropriate level based on their own science and art standards. The learning goal below was for my second grade classes.
I will be able to be able tell the difference between empirical observations and inferences, and use empirical observations and inferences to interpret works of art.
We started with science and had a bubble experiment. The students LOVED it! And everyone was excited to participate and share their findings.
We transitioned from science to art with the introduction of Salvador Dali! Dali claimed that aliens send him messages through his mustache that would tell him what to create. So students created their aliens and waited for the messages to be sent.
First graders received a message that they were to create a self portrait. But not a regular self portrait. They were to imagine they woke up one morning with a Dali mustache. Their self portraits were to illustrate the face they would make when they looked in the mirror.
The students LOVED it! And everyone was excited to participate.
At the end of the unit I asked students to interpret their own art. Look at them write!! The students LOVED it! And everyone was excited.
UNTIL... I told them they were going to present their interpretations in front of the class.
And THAT was when I made my own connection. Ken Robinson always talks about educating the creativity out of children. And I agree 100%. But last week I had another realization. It's not just creativity that's being educated out of these kids, it's more than that.
I reflected on the thoughts going through my head. Trying to figure out exactly what I was thinking. I couldn't quite get my mind to put something together for my mouth to verbalize or my fingers to type so I decided to do what I had been telling my students to do for the past few weeks during this unit.
What had I empirically observed?
Students were excited to create and make discoveries but embarrassed to present their findings to their peers. I reminisced of when my own children were young and trying new things. The smiles on their faces as they made new discoveries and the excitement in their eyes as they shared these discoveries with anyone who would listen to them. And I mean anyone. Little kids LOVE sharing what the know with the world.
I highlighted these key phrases as our unit progressed noting the gradual decline.
And everyone was excited to participate and share their findings.
And everyone was excited to participate.
And everyone was excited.
What could I infer from these observations?
That something happens when kids start school that shuts down their enthusiasm to share what they know. That something happens in school that not only erodes at their creativity, but at their self esteem and confidence to communicate in front of others. Is it just that getting older we become more conscious of the way the world views us or is it something else, and is there anything we can do about it?
I have my own theories but am looking for your thoughts. Please comment and let me know what you think and if there is anything we can do about it.