Growing A "Kinder"Garden

It’s official! Boys are boys and girls are girls. Maybe a teacher’s question doesn’t change much after all! Now what?

Posted on: January 11, 2012

Ok.  So today I went back into my classroom all ready and waiting to see the boys and the girls spontaneously and excitedly begin testing ramps for the cars.  Before center time I reviewed the theories and then left out the ramps.  Then I watched to see what would transpire.

Here’s what happened:

The boys went back to their running/flying game and the girls went back to their ‘nice and quiet’ activities.  I thought they would be interested in the ramps, but apparently they weren’t or they would have taken up the activity.  Hmmm…

My next step?  I went back to listening and watching.

Here’s what I observed:

The girls continued their exploration of ‘Chinese Dragon Masks”.  With Chinese New Year coming this will be easy enough to extend and support for further learning.

Right now I am more interested in the activity of the boys…  In watching  and listening it became clear that underneath the game they called “Cars 2” was a fighting game.  The cars were shooting each other up and the story line was based on a television program or video game.  This is so typical of the play I see!  Not new by any stretch of the imagination.  We’ve talked about these ‘fighting games’ over and over and they morph regularly into a kind of play that looks different on the outside (i.e.: the name of the game changes as well as the chosen toys) but the activity virtually remains the same.

I am acutely aware that they know I am watching and don’t want them playing in violent ways and this is why the names and toys they play with continue to change.  They ‘have my number’ so to speak.

I am also acutely aware that in drawing attention to the violence I see in the play I am both reinforcing it and at the same time sending the conversation further ‘underground’.

I notice as well that for both my boys and girls (at least on the surface) it appears that the play does not go deep and is not sustained for long.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I am doing something to contribute to this phenomenon.  Another possibility is that my students haven’t had much opportunity to play at home and are exploring it in the class for short rather than longer periods.

Today I fell back into a regular habit of mine…  I told my boys (once again) to ‘find a new game’ with new toys.  The lego needed to go away for awhile.  I KNOW!  I KNOW!  This won’t change anything really!  The play will morph once again to the fighting games.  I want to redirect.  SOOO…

After telling my boys they can’t play the lego game anymore I went back to watching to see what would happen.  JE went to the big blocks and made a ‘camping tent’ with some clips I have and a sheet. He and M went under and lay down to have a nice little chat.  I asked what these two boys would like (or could do) to make a campsite, but they weren’t interested.  They just wanted to be in their private space.  This is a good start!  The other boys began to build with big blocks (what seemed to be) random structures.  I couldn’t get any story line from my observations.  I will continue to watch and see what happens.

My challenge now is to figure out how to find out what is driving these boy’s interest and harness it…  I want to light a fire!  Ahhh…  but there’s the rub.  How does one accomplish this?  I’m pretty sure the driving force for these boys is a quest to be powerful.  But that’s such a big thing.  Where do I take it and how do I structure the environment and my interactions with my students to benefit their learning?  How long do I watch and wait?  How many times do I provoke?  I keep provoking and it seems to go nowhere.  Just how does this project work get going in a real way?  This is what I am working on…

It’s a work in progress.  Any thoughts from anyone out there?

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