Tuesday, February 01, 2005
The power of observation.
Kawakawa - pepper tree
In the rush to cover all that is asked of them teachers often overlook the importance of the simple act of observation.
For many creative teachers, in contrast, it is the beginning of the development of a learners curiosity, understanding, and imagination.
In the collage above two of the drawings of the leaves were done by 10 year olds and the third by an adult.
The teacher of the ten year olds first asked the children to draw a leaf without instruction . The children took a few seconds to make a drawing, barely looking at the leaf. The teacher then asked the students to take a good look at the leaf to notice any markings or patterns ( they of course saw veins and wondered what they were for - the beginning of science) and then they were asked to draw the leaf carefully. The results you can see for yourself above. Later the drawings could have been colored in with equal care and displayed carefully for others to admire.
Simple stuff but with important messages for the learners. 'If you want to see you have to really look'; focused observation. To draw you need to 'slow the pace' to do your best work; too many children rush everything, thinking that first finished is best. By working slowly producing results beyond current expectations they begin to understand the importance of personal excellence. They also learn that, as they draw, questions and ideas emerge which can be tapped by a sensitive teacher for the basis of a science study, or for a creative or descriptive language task . The plant itself has an interesting Maori history to be researched. Later, with teachers encouragement, more imaginative interpretations can be developed by moving from observation into imagination, by drawing /painting 'magic leaves'.
Observation is the basis of all learning but it takes time and effort to do it well.
Not such a simple thing after all!