I’d be the first to admit that lately I’ve been a bit spotty with the blog posts. In fact, I haven’t posted anything at all in 2013. I’m not saying I’ve heard any protests from anyone about this, because there weren’t any, but I’ve got my own standards, and it’s time to get back on track. Last year when I was doing recess duty, the posts practically wrote themselves, there was so much material. Now I have to work a little harder, but that doesn’t mean the stories aren’t out there. They catch the small moments that make up the day in schools, and in some ways, if you care to pay attention, they can say more about education than the endless political debate about what it’s for, who ‘s responsible for it, how good it is, etc etc.
Recently I was at Gilmore Elementary School to be part of Community Reading Day. Each year Gilmore invites community members such as police, fire fighters, and local dignitaries in to read a story to the children. After I arrived, Principal Laurel Crosby recommended a couple books, and then my student tour guide, Karen, led me off to Debbie Tobin’s Kindergarten class.
Sounds easy, but Kindergarten is a lot scarier than it sounds. Kindergarteners may be cute, but they’re a tough audience. In the past I’ve had whole classes roll away from me if they didn’t like the book I was reading. On top of that, I was competing with firefighters. Along with uniforms and very exciting looking hats and jackets, they’d brought their trump card – the fire truck. I was beginning to worry about being lackluster compared to people with more heroic jobs. Seriously, what could I bring that would compete with a fire truck? Seriously, absolutely nothing.
Happily, the class I read to seemed content to have someone new to talk with. They were very sweet and thankfully didn’t show any signs of rolling away. While we were looking at a picture of an active volcano with a helicopter hovering over it, I asked if anyone had ever seen a volcano. At least two children put up their hands, which is pretty amazing in itself. Some of the other kids chimed in with their own comments such as a) “I saw a helicopter once”, b) “My dad went in an airplane” c) That volcano fire would burn up the sky,” and the classic game changer, “My Grandpa got a new dog.”
Volcanoes forgotten, this opened up a whole new discussion on dogs, cats, rabbits and the like. Anyone who teaches young children is used to this kind of meandering discourse, though it can be a little surprising.
It’s not so surprising when you think about it. Very young children are showing us how the brain actually works. All of us are always on the hunt to connect something new with something familiar. Chances are pretty good that Grandpa was either involved with aircraft, a volcano viewing or both, which is how he and his dog got in the mix. There’s often a hidden thread of connection through children’s random comments. The fun of it is to find the thread.