There were papers strewn all over the classroom for the last couple of days. I wondered why the children had not been filing their work papers. However, I made a deliberate effort to not address the problem, but waited for the children to bring it up themselves.
A famous philosopher of the 17th century, John Locke, stated that a new-born baby is like a tabula rasa or clean slate, which takes on the imprint of everything the environment provides it. It is therefore the responsibility of the society to ensure that a naïve child grows into an informed adult.
“Suppose you were an animal, what would you like to be?” she asked her friend. The reply came as quick as a flash without a moment’s thought, “O, I would like to be a blue whale, I will be a largest sea mammal”.
They were two children, an 8 year old and a 10 year old, conversing about the information gathered from their research and reading. They were totally lost in their ‘space’.
I was with a group of 6 to 9 year olds discussing fundamental needs of human beings. We had a variety of labels with different basic needs written on them - food, clothing, shelter, love, education, transportation, protection and so on.
It was a fine, sunny morning and a small group of 6 to 8 year olds and I were out looking at leaves. We had brought a few samples into the classroom that we examined and now we were observing and exploring the leaves of trees and plants outside.
It was lunch time in the environment for 3 to 6 year olds that I was working in. The younger children were going home while the older ones were preparing the classroom by reorganising the furniture so that all the children could sit in small groups to have lunch.
As children grow and develop, there are marked changes that occur in what they think and talk about and what interests them. As they turn six or six and a half or even earlier, they begin to ask for the reasons for things.
Keeping up with a moving toddler, walking around unsteadily helps us to look at our world with new eyes. The tin filled with lentils hardly noticed except in the flurry of cooking suddenly becomes the treasure which calls forth heart warming coos of wonder and delighted chuckles.