Wednesday, February 24, 2010

yesterday we made that, today we made this, what are we gonna make tomorrow?

The kids at placement are really into the materials we used for the shaker bottles yesterday, so today after we made more shakers, we just played with the materials! So awesome for fine motor development, and scooping and pouring, we ended up transferring the stuff over to the kitchen in the house area and 'cooking' with it. Pretty fun - the kids had a really good time and it got pretty messy. It felt like a gong-show, but somehow somewhere in there it gelled, and I got to witness some pretty high-quality play going on.

Now - I'm coming to understand the value of mess. It's pretty awesome to encourage kids to explore a material until they have a thorough, experiential understanding of it. Usually that can get really messy. I can understand how a lot of educators are a little put off by this - it takes time to clean up, time educators often don't have, or find it hard to invest. It's so much easier to work at controlling the classroom, making sure messes don't get out of hand, do our best to tame the chaos. However, kids are messy, and if they get messy, it seemed to me today that they were really getting a lot out of it. I'm not talking about making a mess for the sake of making messes - that's behavioural and doesn't need to be encouraged - but I think over-controlling kids, be it helicoptering over them, overscheduling their lives, or making sure everything's always neat and tidy impacts play, learning and ultimately kid's civil rights to be kids. Are we so concerned about our kids not getting hurt, or getting too messy, or staying safe that we are limiting them, holding them back from experiencing things fully? Is controlling kids the most effective way of ensuring their safety, health, learning?

Kids need protecting - our society is shaped in a particular way that necessitates that. And I don't want kids to come to any harm, by any means. But the constant mantra of "be careful" and "that's not safe" is starting to sound like walls hemming our kids in. It's exciting to think of alternative ways of being with kids as they learn. Thank goodness I'm in school for this.

Make the messes, my friends. I'll clean it up so we can make more messes tomorrow. I feel like I owe you all that, considering how many messes you're going to get handed in the future by us.

Messy Nerd out.


  1. Noah, you would love our classroom. We have paint on the ceiling and glitter in every nook. In fact, the more our classroom is like a garage, to me, the better.

    One of the things we work on when it comes to safety -- even with the 2's -- is to help them practice doing their own safety assessments. And learning by failing sometimes.

    I tell the parents that if their kid doesn't come home covered in paint, mud, snot and blood, we're not doing it right! It's gotten to the point that my assistant teachers have started photographing kids who are particularly messy, then emailing the photos to the parents so that they know to bring a change of clothes when they come for pick up.

    This is only possible because we're a cooperative, in which I have 6-10 other adults in the room with me to take care of clean-up!

    Messy nerd out, back at ya!

  2. Thanks Tom!

    I love your vision of 'doing it right'. And you're right, I'd totally love your classroom.