I struggled with whether to say the gift of curiosity or being curious but really I am talking about the excitement - the joy - during the experience of being curious. Yesterday, two moments occurred that left me filled with joy, wonder, and honestly excited about the rest of our school year.
I'll share both stories through photos:
I watched and I was struck by the uniqueness of the drawing. I don't often observe three year old children drawing in this way, with distinctly sized vertical lines. It felt meaningful, especially as he lay the paint pen down and traced his pointer finger along each line.
Yet, I was left with only my sense of sight to make sense of - and wonder about - his approach. This artist speaks Chinese and I do not, so for the moment, I was left with wonderment.
This school year I do not speak the same home language as any of my students. That is a challenge in several important ways, yet in this moment, I was grateful for our language gap. Without the ease of simply listening in or asking and telling I was left to think. Yes, think.
I thought about this particular student's past painting and drawing experiences. I thought about his joy for sensory play. I thought about his age and the fact that, this may not be a representation of anything - and simply a joyful art experience. I thought about how interesting it was that he followed the line with his finger. Why, why, why did he follow the line? It must represent something to him, I thought. I thought about the possibilities, as this idea of line and movement grew into a thought cloud of potential provocations.
The joy of thinking is well, a joy.
EpilogueI recorded several videos of this student and in one he did engage in private speech. As I shared the videos with the wonderful teaching assistant I work with, who happens to speak Chinese, she shed light on the entire scenario. This boy shared that this was a 'fast train' in his private speech, which also made sense of his finger trailing the lines and the sounds he uttered as well.
I am thankful to know the story behind his lines, but I am also thankful for the gift of thinking. It feels good to be curious about our children - it feels good to move through cycles of inquiry and live as a teacher researcher.
I am left thankful for this moment.
Three children and a basket of vibrant paint sticks.
The moment was beautiful in and of itself. The three children shared space, allowed lines to merge, and moved around the table like one organism.
Then, more happened.
Not just more, but more completely of the children's own interests and agency.
First one cup, then another, and another...writing tools began to fill the table. They worked as a team, back and forth retrieving cups of markers and pencils, lining them upon the table.
And suddenly, their table space ran out.
Near silently, they agreed to a plan.
Stools were lined up and ever so carefully these cups bearing writing tools filled the tops of stools.
I watched the expressions on their faces. There was such focus, they were doing serious work. I was reminded of my childhood. I grew up in Florida and our little townhouse community had access to a small inlet. There, my best friend and I found sea foam and we concocted a plan to sell slime. Do you remember the gumball machines that sold sticky slime and putty in the 1990s? Well, we set about a new business plan to sell our sea slime and make our fortune. I'm sure our faces showed the same tenacious, serious expressions.
Childhood is filled with these moments and I felt such honor and privilege to observe this moment between two boys - who are new friends - with just a few weeks into this school year. Adults are not needed during these moments, unless called upon. I made my way to the sink and tidied up quietly to give them space, but to allow myself a vantage point to observe and marvel.
Yes, indeed it was a lucky day to be left in awe of childhood, remember my own, and wonder about what we can do tomorrow.