Thursday, February 3, 2011
Summer Learning on a Winter Day
I was one of those kids who loved school. Luckily, I was blessed with a handful of dedicated teachers, one whose address I mean to track down so I can write him a thank you note. He gave up his lunches to teach me one-on-one. Each afternoon, we sat next to each other, our brown bags open and sandwiches out as he went over the formulas and concepts we were learning in class. I'm convinced that without the time he graciously gave, algebra would just be a word I know and not a tool I can manipulate. But regardless of my teachers and their skill sets, some lessons were just better learned in the summer. After all, no matter how much you like your biology teacher, there's reading about an ecosystem in a textbook and there's hiking out into the woods in your backyard, taking your shoes off, and stepping into an ecosystem while watching the water beetles swim by your ankles.
Summer contains one more key component to learning: boredom. Nothing spurs creativity faster than boredom. As it turns out, snow days contain their fair share of boredom, too - boredom that leads to exploration, especially when mama is busy trying to get a certain little brother to sleep. And so, yesterday with mama preoccupied Audrey went exploring. By the time I returned to the kitchen, she had collected a piece of Tupperware, a toy fish, and some ice from the back porch step. She was creating a pond (a frozen one at that) for the fish. She tossed the ice and fish into the Tupperware and added some water. She watched the ice melt in the water as the fish "swam".
Then she gathered a large aluminum mixing bowl, a plastic colander, measuring cups, a spatula, potato masher, more ice (of course), and hand soap. She commenced with giving the fish a bubble bath, dunking him in and out of measuring cups and moving him with the aid of the spatula and potato masher. That's when something magical happened. She realized that the fish (that has a magnet inside of it) stuck to some surfaces but not others. A little science lesson ensued - the most basis of lessons about magnets. Magnets stick to metal. Magnets do not stick to plastic, glass, wood, silicone, or little brothers. The fish swam and Audrey passed an icy afternoon learning by touch at the kitchen table.
Apparently, the lesson, ahem, stuck. This morning Audrey figured out how to get a magnet to stick to her, so she could become a magnet, too. You just have to smile at boredom and the lessons she brings on dreary days.