"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Saturday, January 23, 2016

We Can Learn from a Child

Over ten years ago, when elementary schools in Paete were given the opportunity to explore what the internet had to offer, students had the chance to see the four seasons through photographs from the United States. Today, of course, is an excellent opportunity to share with pupils in the Philippines how a blizzard looks like. More than a foot of snow has fallen in the Washington DC area and there is more to come.


We are quite eager to share our knowledge and experiences with young minds. Facebook reminds us of how much we like to share information with others. As teachers, however, we also need to be open to what our children maybe telling us. This morning, while I was browsing through Facebook, I came across this post shared by Troy Colmenares:


The post did not come with any information regarding the student who answered this exercise. It was a bit difficult to comprehend what the student wrote because of spelling and the use of more than one language. I had a brief conversation with Troy about this post and he made me realize that I could actually learn quite a bit from this child.

I was guessing that the child was probably in either third or fourth grade since science is not taught in Philippine public schools in the early years. In addition, English is not the medium of instruction in the early years. Troy thought that this was a reasonable guess judging also from the child's handwriting. Based on these, the above probably came from a nine- or ten-year old child. What did I learn from this child?

First, as Troy pointed out, this child was definitely determined. The table was completed. This student was obviously making the effort. The work showed great potential. Second, the child's answers provided a snapshot of where the child currently stood. The child was giving us the opportunity to know more about his or her experiences.

The first four animals the child listed are not really "common". Lions, tigers, elephants and bears are not as common as grasshoppers. These are only common in children's books and zoos. Most are in fact endangered. The foods listed were obviously all human food and these perhaps are his or her favorites. Spaghetti, barbeque and hotdogs are most probably not what this child usually eats on a daily basis, but these are basically what a child often expects when attending parties. The child's effort and background tell us a lot. For starters, it shows why we need to teach science in the early years.



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