Does it always need to mean something?

Had a conversation with another teacher at Panara yesterday. I was left wondering if what we did in the classroom always had to mean something. We tie everything to a standard, a learning target/goal and keep many of our lessons within those boundaries, but are we artificially limiting ourselves?  Do we steal the wonder due to the time limits we feel pressured to keep?

After the meeting the kids and I went to a local sculpture park. We found this on one edge, a series of what looked like four foot high metal buoys. Maybe they were to symbolize something, maybe placed here for kids to climb on or people to scratch initials into. I wondered if it really mattered, maybe it was just to allow you to make sense of it your own way.

We couldn’t find any description of what the sculpture was all about. I wondered if we let kids climb over it, struggle to read the carvings, pounded on them to hear and feel to make sense of it. Then we come in and add the artists intended meaning if we would have walked away with more.

I wonder if we would have read the plaque if the kids would have just shrugged after hearing the information and moved on. Do we sometimes kill the wonder?

8 thoughts on “Does it always need to mean something?

  1. I do not think that it is ever the intention to kill the wonder – or creativity for that matter…but I believe that people get overwhelmed with the responsibility and the amount of content to teach. Some teachers also don't pay attention to student reaction (which makes me crazy). Maybe this post will remind us to keep the wonder alive!


  2. I think your post is important. I say that as a mom and an educator for the last 30 years. I loathe the standards movement and the requisite tests that accompany them. I don't doubt that such attention to a set of content to be known as the whole of what gets privileged at schools is a huge mistake. I did a project with a group of bilingual children and their teachers for a year. We learned via our wondering. Ironically, they were the highest performing children at their grade levels and we avoided both the standards and test prep. We dwelled in wonder.


  3. Sometimes it seems like the more we try to push what we “think” something sound mean, the less meaningful it is…Good question to make me think, both as a mom and a teacher. I think this goes along with our discomfort at being silent and sitting back to let the kids do all the work in the classroom sometimes–we've been judged so much as educators that we're afraid to let things happen without our intervention all the time, I'm afraid.


  4. You're asking important questions. I tend to think that a lot of things do kill the excitement, joy of learning, and wonder in young children. As educators, we have to be intentional not to let all of the things we have to do get in the way of all of the doors we can open for children (if we just give them more freedom to explore).


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