Years ago, one of our Seeds who, as it turns out, is the parent of a current student, proposed at an all-school meeting that we start a Seed fishing club. An avid fisherman, he wanted to share his passion with anyone who cared to join in. It’s important to remember that this was also in the days when we did not have the huge playground we have now, which occasionally floods from rain or irrigation. Our playground, which was mostly a fenced in asphalt parking lot and driveway, only had water on days we turned on the hose for water play. The idea for a fishing club was visionary at best.
During Tuesday morning recess, a bunch of sticks, pieces of yarn and dried leaves came as close as anything to a Seed fishing club (except maybe two years ago when we had huge rains in late summer). A lineup of young fishermen and fisherwomen hung their poles over the railing of the climbing structure, eager to see what they could catch. By the time I arrived with my camera to document the event, some of the children were under the structure tugging on the yarn. Evidently they were the big catches of the day. This went on for some time and children from many classes were involved. It was a perfect example of the kind of play I’ve been writing about in my recent blogs.
Even though I am a vegetarian and will most likely never eat a fish again, I was delighted to see this type of play happening on our playground. The kids were using their imaginations, expressing their creativity with natural materials and learning to be safe around friends. They were practicing taking turns and monitoring their words and bodies to accommodate the needs of others. Children from different classes were playing together with equal engagement. They were having fun on a beautiful morning.
The children’s play made me happy. I was equally pleased that Kerri, our K-1 teacher, took to heart what we’d been talking about recently. The idea for an area that could promote “fishing” was one of brainstorms from our professional development sessions. She took the initiative to gather a few materials, made them available to the children and offered an invitation. The children did the rest. I believe that this is how true and lasting learning occurs. As teachers, we gather our resources, listen closely to what students are interested in, offer invitations and then move out of the way. They do the rest if we give them the time and space. This true for teachers, too.
As time goes along, I see myself becoming more and more of a documentarian, a dot connector and an offerer of invitations to both children and teachers. On a lovely November morning, like the children fishing for “the big one,” an invitation dropped into the pond and rippled out in an expansive, generous way. Who knows how far-reaching the “catch” from this experience will be?