Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Never Underestimate The Creative Intelligence of a Child

"Never underestimate the creative intelligence of a child." This is one of my favorite Maria Montessori quotes. It is always lingering in the back of my mind. It has called upon me to stop and pay attention to the details of an individual child's work in such a way as to see the infinite possibilities of expression - to see through the lens of a child's mind and to celebrate what is viewed. I have much to write about as it has been a very busy month. But, for now I will simply share with you two groups of photos in which lessons given were internalized and then expressed in another medium other than the one I anticipated.

The first group of photos are of chalkboard drawings I turned to view just after a lengthy lesson on fractions to my elders, but which was also attended to by two young four year olds. One of those four year olds listened intently at all that I said and watched carefully at the materials I manipulated to demonstrate my lesson.

I remember asking myself if perhaps the lesson was over her head and that maybe she was bored rather than captivated. She wasn't bored and she used the chalkboard to express what she gathered from the presentation. I stood in awe when I first saw it and then, yes, I got somewhat teary eyed at its magnificence.

The second group of photos is of a work an elder was doing - a six year old who is in her third year in Primary. She came up to me excitedly with clay in her hands. I was moving towards a three year old that I had promised a lesson. I looked down quickly at what the older child was trying to show me but only glanced at it briefly until I heard her say, "Nine plus eight plus three. I made math with my clay." I gave the three year old a look that promised I would be there shortly and turned my attention to the clay. She had made indentations in the clay to denote quantity. Another elder came up to us and said, "You need to make a plus sign." A few minutes later the equation was on the floor and a sum had been determined. I too was on the floor watching her enthusiasm for her work. I took a photo or two, maybe more, and found my way to the waiting three year old.

Never underestimate the creative intelligence of a child and always remember that you are in the midst of great minds at work...the minds of young children. Lastly, allow space for children to express their thoughts. Paper is only one medium for expression and may be limiting to some. Allow children room to breath intellectually and artistically. If what we are truly seeking, in regards to the children grasping knowledge, are "leaps to abstraction" then make room for the leaping to happen in your environment. Think less about misconduct and more about wonderment.


Elsa said...

A wonderfully inspiring post and photos, thank you!

Abby Jo said...

wooo! so happy to read more about your new class in Alaska! I love this topic!


Michelle Irinyi said...

"Think less about misconduct and more about wonderment."
- - -

This says it all, Susan. Thank you!

Margaret said...

Susan Dyer,

I am going to post a link to your blog for my students who are studying (both in college classrooms, and in our Montessori child care center) early childhood education.

They are getting marvelous experience, but I want them to read more about Montessori, and I love the way you write about your students and your class, and I love your photos.

If you would rather I did not do this (privacy of the children?) please let me know. I will understand.

Margaret Benson
Dept. of Human Dev. and Family Studies
Penn State Altoona

Susan Y. Dyer said...

Not a problem Margaret. I feel quite complimented! Please note that I also work as a lecturer and do in-house teacher training. I will send you a LinkedIn request so you may view my profile. Susan Y. Dyer