Last week when mom and Bella and I took a walk to the park on the way home we spotted a trio of boys squatting on the sidewalk chasing bugs and putting them into a jar. Enchanted at the picture of boys playing with bugs, I stopped and asked them what kinds of insects they had collected. “Three ants,” one of the boys replied, “I have to get one more and then I’m done. It’s for my ***.” (I didn’t understand the chain of letters he used.)
I heard in his voice no enthusiasm for the project. It was just another task to complete. My first impression of three children happily engaged in exploration suddenly shifted. It struck me that there’s something wrong when something like playing with bugs that should come so naturally to boys becomes work and is no longer fun. A well-meaning teacher’s project had backfired.
I don’t know what the moral to this story is. I’m not sure it has one or that it should have one. I just know that I think learning should be a natural process and that it should be fun. And it seems like this incident was a red flag, a signal of something that has gone awry. And a reminder to me of what I hope to accomplish and what I want to avoid.
I had more to say, I think, when I set out to write this. But I can’t remember what it was and so I’ll just post this and hope whatever it was will come back to me eventually.