Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Positioning and enclosing

I often find it hard to fit the play and creation of my students into an overall map of development. Is this not something that's possible? Perhaps we have to trust that a rich ecosystem of experiences, play and creation will provide the environment for all the learning that needs to take place? In all this, can we identify thresholds, turning points, key moments? I don't know. Perhaps it's best to try and document and ponder certain things students are giving time to, having success with?

Here's a kind of success story. Though I'm not sure if I can discern a story arc in it, we could call it a months-long high point:

One of my 3 year old students is finding it hard to get used to life in school. One of her 'safe spaces' is to sit and paint or draw a picture. Here are some of her drawings:

She takes her time with them, often watching what's happening in the classroom from the vantage point of her creation. This one above is an early example. To me it's fascinating: how she has divided up the paper into sections with the orange lines and then experimented with dots in lines, dots in circles, circle parts, dots in groups, scribbly lines. 

She has a stencil here and she's adding areas of black using the stencil, on top of the orange and black lines and areas that she's already laid down.

There's a discipline in her investigations. This one has stuck to roughly oval areas of colour each separated from the other.

Here she has created her circular areas with dramatic movements of the pen, and then has carefully filled them with red.

More wild movement and careful colouring. I wish I could ask her about her pictures but we only share a few words of English. I'm left to interpret them myself, and, who knows? I'm likely to be missing things. But I see a concern with positioning elements, with spacing them out on the paper. Also a balance of wild and careful, of pen stroke and filled colour.

This one surprised me - hands! She'd done this after I'd been cutting out outlines of my hands to record ways that we could hold up three fingers.
She and another student caught the offcuts as I cut and made sure they went in the bin! I didn't imagine she would take the idea into her drawings.

How do I "assess" this? What development is there?

I think the answer is that I'm in no hurry for any development. This exploration seems so beautiful, so complete as it is. I wish it was all in one book. I'd love to be able to talk about the images. I'm glad I've got photos of many of them, before she folded them so that they'd fit in her bag to take home.

How do we analyse work like this? I'm not sure. The play schemas give us some small handle:
  • Transporting
  • Enveloping
  • Enclosing
  • Trajectory
  • Rotation
  • Connecting
  • Positioning
  • Transforming
Which do you see in these drawings? I see a lot of concern with positioning, and some with enclosing. Add in a little rotation and connecting. But this hasn't taken me a lot further. It does help me to see how  drawing links with other learning, opens my eyes to possible connections.

I'm pretty sure there will be development. I don't expect it to follow an obvious path - I can't predict how it will go. Will she keep that fine balance between the wild scribble and the careful positioning and filling? Will she continue to take her time on each piece? I hope so. 

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