In last week’s post, Susan described how we in the charter school are entering into the year excited to try new structures that will support the capacity of children and adults to develop the kinds of skills that scholars like Yong Zhao and Daniel Pink name as “traditionally neglected” and “of increasing importance” – including design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.
With that spirit in mind, the third, fourth and fifth grade students and teachers held our first “Intermediate Studio” Friday. After introducing and discussing the poem The Journey by Mary Oliver, we invited the children to – as Oliver writes – stride deeper and deeper into the world, listening to their own voices.
Students considered the question What does it mean to explore? in one of three studios: Investigating a large area through hiking; a small area through natural observation; and the question through working with clay and kapla blocks.
These snippets of conversation reveal some of the meaning explore holds to these Opal School students:
RD – You can use different materials – build and play with them – see what they can do and what you can do with them.
NT – You explore the purpose [the materials] are here for – what you’re supposed to do with them; when you explore you’ll know how you can use them in different ways.
SR – Here [at Opal], we explore in play.
DW – Doing whatever you want: No limits, no rules, no one stopping you from exploring what you want to do.
SM – If you go on a hike and you don’t even know you’re exploring: you’re always exploring because you’re finding new things.
RD – It doesn’t have to be something new – you have to use it in a new way.
SR – [Today] we were doing collaborative clay. It was hard to have your own image. How we explored was different because we helped each other. Instead of going into your own cave, we worked together.
NT – With the clay, the more people had, the more perspectives you had. With more more people it’s very different. There can be some conflict but we mostly worked together. Sometimes it is like the poem where people tell you what to do, and it can be hard to do what you want.
AB: It’s like in the poem. You have to put yourself out in the world and explore even if it is not what others think you should do.
As you start the new school year, what does explore mean to you and the children you work with? How are you cracking open that idea or related ones?