Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Risky Work

The children have propped a long piece of wood up onto the play structure.  They've "secured" the bottom by putting it into the wagon so that it doesn't slip down.  They are very careful applying their weight to see if it can hold them and have made an announcement that no one should go beneath the board in case it falls.
They notice that the top part keeps slipping off, and they deliberate over the best way to secure it.  Some children run off to grab rope and other supplies while two are left to experiment.
It's serious, risky work!  Now they have found a little notch on the side of the tree part of the structure that seems to be working.
And now that it's secured in its notch and with a jump rope for extra stability, every wants a chance to brave the climb.
As I watched this progression, I noticed that the children had a keen awareness of the properties of the materials they were using.  They were aware of the flexibility of the board and didn't climb farther than right above the wagon.  They had expectations about outcomes, hypothesis about potential solutions, and reflections on what was or was not working.  This work was a serious endeavor with calculated risks, divergent thinking, and collaboration.
With these observations, I was so thankful:  thankful that in our Tumbleweed culture, we (adults) have built trust over time; we have supported appropriate risks over time; we have refrained from interrupting unnecessarily; and therefore, we have been able to see the beauty and complexities of children hard at work.

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