The Having of Wonderful Ideas was written by Eleanor Duckworth and her ideas have been a foundation for my teaching and the teaching at Preucil. All children have ideas. All children have wonderful ideas. My role is "to get people to think about what they think."
It’s early in the year and for some, this is their first formal educational experience. All have ideas, but not all are used to exploring them and talking about them. Often, when I ask children about their thoughts and ideas, I hear “I don’t know.” (I have many theories for why that is the go-to answer, but too many to talk about now). I assure children I’m not looking for a right answer, an answer they know to be true, but rather, for an idea.
We had been looking closely at the red leaves all morning. We notice cracks, lines, spots, holes and when we look through the magnifiers, we think they look like dragon skin (dragons have been heavy on our minds lately as they keep popping up in our own created stories). Anya, a new, young preschooler is enthralled with looking closely and filled with wonderment as we talk about what we see, what we notice. I ask her if she has any ideas for how the spots got there or why they are there. Her response, "I don't know," I ask Isla, a seasoned 2nd-year preschooler to demonstrate for us the having of ideas. Her first answer too, had been “I don’t know.”
Isla, maybe you don’t know, but maybe you do. Do you have any ideas about how the spots got there?
Can you have an idea if you think on it?
Isla comes over, takes the magnifier and looks. She’s very quiet. Anya, and I are waiting and waiting for the big moment of the “idea.”
Isla, do you have an idea?
No, not yet. I’m studying the leaf and I’m thinking about how the spots got on it.
Minutes pass. I start to think MY wonderful idea is not going to work out the way I had intended. Then, after a solid 5 minutes of deep studying and thinking while Anya and I wait patiently, the idea is sprung.
I think they are poisonous spots. The leaf got them from the trunk and the trunk got the poison from the seed. It’s the kind of tree that doesn’t like to be touched or eaten by animals, so it has poison spots on the leaves.
“.Having confidence in one's ideas does not mean "I know my ideas are right"; it means
"I am willing to try out my ideas." --Eleanor Duckworth
Anya, do you have an idea about the spots?
Anya DOES have an idea, it is less concrete and organized than Isla's, but it’s an idea that she did not have before.
The spots are there and they are going to be there forever. They are stuck there. They got stuck on those leaves.
Isla smiles and nods. Both children leave the area and go to play in the kitchen. Anya is learning that she has ideas and that her ideas are accepted and wonderful!
"The more we help children to have their wonderful ideas and to feel good about themselves for having them, the more likely it is that they will some day happen upon wonderful ideas that no one else has happened upon before." --Eleanor Duckworth