Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hugs from the heart

The children of the Gonzales family at Rancho Punta Boca del Salado, Baja California, Mexico are begging, each weekend when they are there, for classes.
To all sit around the large table under the palm leaves roof with each kid equipped with paper and a ballpoint to do mathematic, drawings or English.

What remains remarkable is that these children all ask to have these classes.
It is not organized for them and then offered.
They are crazy about the teachings and as they know they are the most important, they naturally get a positive reply to their request.

Each time a new way of teaching is applied.
And these days the pedagogic focus is how to learn children more than just mathematics.
Of course it is good for them to know how much is 45 + 74.
But there is something more essential to learn.
Like being independent.
Like being responsible.

This is now achieved through mathematics!
To catch two birds with one net.
The kids learn how to do correctly the mathematical tricks and at the same time they learn to be independent and responsible.
The way it works is that they get incomplete sums.
In the past they would have to solve a sum like 67 + 54 = ?
Depending of the level of the student the sum would be more easy or more complicated.
But now they get an incomplete sum.
Like 67 + ... = ?
They have to put themselves the amount with which to add and then solve the sum.
This means they can make it as easy or as difficult for themselves as they like.
For example they could put 67 + 2 = 69.
Sum ready and perfect result.
But children are smart enough to realize that this is more a way to escape the challenge.
Hence, they will put a bigger figure there.
Like 67 + 271 = ?

Suddenly they are solving mathematical problems and at the same time they have to make decisions how easy or difficult they are making it for themselves.
The children of the Gonzales family at Rancho Punta Boca del Salado, Baja California, Mexico love this.
They feel they are being taken serious and that they are trusted a responsibility.
They even get deeper involved because now the sum is not something from the brain of the professor anymore.
But it is something that is coming from themselves also.
Therefore they identify much more with the mathematical problem and are much more motivated to solve it correctly.

The same strategy is now applied when they want to do drawings.
In the past a drawing would be made and they would have to copy it as precisely as possible.
Now a drawing is presented to the student and he or she is asked to continue the drawing.
To expand it.
To add to it.
To have as a result a drawing that is made together.
In this way the visual and imaginative capacities and drawing talents of the child are expanded.
And at the same time the child learns to do things together.
To have a result from a collaboration.

Working with children gives a tremendous satisfaction.
It is not only fascinating when approached in a creative way.
But it is rewarding.
Not with money or anything like that.
When the class is over they spontaneously come to the teacher and give him a hug.



Dawn Pier said...

Oh Michel! This is so beautiful! What a wonderful thing you are doing with the children. But there is something missing from you post - where are the children's drawings? Please share!

Anonymous said...

You might enjoy the writings of John Taylor Gatto.

Kathy said...

Ugh. Sorry about that. I was the anon.