One of our yearly autumn rituals is a visit to the Great Pumpkin Blaze sponsored by one of the historical societies in our region. The event is a really interesting one. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of pumpkins, some real, some plastic, are carved and put out on display across the park. They are lit, either via candle, or light bulb, and arranged in amazing formations, whether it be dinosaurs, houses, a bridge, a train; you name it, it is probably in existence there.
And each year, both our children are equally amazed. So amazed that it isn’t a rare occurrence for them to say something along the lines of, “That’s amazing!” or “That’s so cool!” or “How did they do that?”
While both my children are still very young (6 and 3), I can’t imagine that this sense of awe at the amazing creations put together will ever diminish; my wife and I are just as likely to make those comments.
That sense of awe and amazement is one that I love to see as a parent. I love watching wonder spread across my daughters’ faces, and laugh (often inside) as they try to figure out exactly what is going on, and why.
Both of my children are “discoverers,’ often more apt to play something to pieces, than to be concerned with keeping things together.
In fact, most young kids love to learn and discover from birth. What’s amazing is that sometimes, we grow this out of them, and their experiences in our schools and in our classrooms can seem to extinguish this natural desire to play, learn, and be amazed.
This makes me wonder if our internal desire for order, niceness, and simplicity, is something that continues to hold our classrooms back. Are we so concerned with classroom “management” that we are unwilling to consider that “management” doesn’t have to look like “compliance?” Do we really think that a quiet classroom is an engaged one? All the time, anyway?
I have no doubt that the creation of the Pumpkin Blaze is a messy ordeal, complete with pieces of pumpkin everywhere, lights and candles strewn about, and lots of noise, from the carving process, the setup of decorations, and the constant chatting that must accompany many people working on putting an event together that is beloved by so many.
And throughout this setup process, I also have no doubt that the designers of the event are not requiring the process to be clean or quiet, instead opting for planned chaos, enjoyment, creativity, and artistic expression.
If the Blaze can do it, so too can our classrooms. We just need to shift our focus from “This is so compliant” to “This is so cool.”