When making a map of our classroom yesterday, I encouraged the children to look around the room at the larger items such as furniture and rugs so that we could draw them first on our room-shaped piece of paper, and add the details later. One child looked around and announced: “I want to make the globe.” Drawing this tiny component of our classroom first did not fit with my logical progression, so instead of allowing her to do this I encouraged her again to think of the larger items in the room. In a minute or two, the child said she would go play somewhere else, which immediately alerted me to the fact that she had lost interest because I had ignored her idea.
So, shifting my plan, I invited her to stay and add her globe to our empty map. She drew it carefully in the correct location, was pleased with the result, and skipped off to the play dough table.
After school when we showed her mom the map, she described the process of making her globe: “I had to draw it really small, so Boston is right next to Uganda.”
Had I stuck with what I as an adult thought was an insightful and logical plan we would have missed this window into this child’s amazing understanding of the world’s geography. And I was reminded again of the importance of listening carefully and respecting the ideas of the children we teach — which nurtures the joy of learning!