Tuesday, 25 September 2012

school schemas

On one of our walks home from school last week, Sasha stopped suddenly and pointed to this.

As far as I can tell, it's part of the crank arm of an old latch gate that's no longer used. But of course, Sasha doesn't really have a schema for "crank arm of an old latch gate." She hasn't had much exposure to farms or the countryside or other places you would likely encounter this style of gate. What she does have exposure to, seven hours a day, five days a week, is elementary school.

"Wow! Look at this huge pencil sharpener!" she said.

From a six-year-old's perspective, it really does look remarkably like the manual pencil sharpeners installed in almost every classroom in the school district.

I could have said, "No, you silly goose, you're wrong! It's not a pencil sharpener, it's a gate crank!"

But that would make me kind of a jerkwad -- just another adult who knows better than you, you puerile rugrat -- and it would be missing an opportunity to engage some of those "young child as scientist" skills my professor talked about in child psychology class.

One of the things kids and scientists are best at is asking questions, making hypothesis (however rudimentary), and experimenting. So we talked and talked about the "giant pencil sharpener," speculating about why someone would have a pencil sharpener outside; how it got so rusty; how it works (the crank arm only rotates it about 90 degrees); where you would find a pencil big enough to fit in those holes; who uses it or used to use it.

If we ever find a big enough pencil, we'll most certainly try to sharpen it and see what happens.


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