Yesterday, we had Lee Ann Brown, acclaimed poet and 4th grade parent, join our 3rd and 4th graders in a poetry lesson. During the course of her lesson, she had our young poets writing busily. In introducing her lesson, she said: you need to "spill the word on its side, and see what comes out." In her acrostic poem, August spilled out her name and wrote: An Unusual Gust Under the South Trees.
Yes! Spill the word -- even, spill the WORLD -- to see what comes out. Over the past few weeks, it has been incredible to see the ways that children spill their worlds to see what comes out. After reviewing the damage in the area and becoming "part of history," our 2nd graders are studying the question of "what is beauty?" Our 3rd graders are thinking about culture -- what defines it, where does it live and where is it created? Our 2s have ended their study of water, and are now pursuing its opposite in earth (or clay), learning how the world can be manipulated in such different ways with their hands. And in studio, 4th graders are creating silhouettes that represent their research studies of revolution and evolution over time. They have been considering the following questions in their studio class as they create these silhouettes and make their thinking visible through artistic representation: If history is a series of stories, who tells the stories? How do different points of view change a given history? Why is it important to consider all points of view? Why does perspective matter? Here is a bit of their conversation:
Child 1: " The winners write the history books. Say there's a big war and the side that eventually wins AND the side that lost did some bad stuff. The winners bend it so that they look like they did all the good stuff and the losers all the bad stuff."
Child 2: "Isn't that called propaganda?"
Child 3: "... I can't explain why it just is it gives you a different story, a different picture of what happened. Maybe because what actually happened is going to be different than what somebody thought. It's not just what you heard."
Here's to all we are working to do to do a bit more spilling out of the world to study what comes out, and a little less telling children what they must find.