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Fieldnotes 2/8/13

abenjamin's picture

On Fridays I work with a 2hr long class with 4-6 year olds. Usually, the weekly projects correspond to modern artists, but this week they worked with the Valentine's Day theme. There are 9 students in the class (8 girls and 1 boy), in the full age range. 


During this class, something that stood out to me was Ms. A's helping the kids with many of their projects.

Cut-out hearts: fold square paper, draw half of heart, cut out along line. Some kids needed/wanted more help with this process than others. Ms. A would fold and draw for many of them, I was trying to show them how to do it by example, then see if they could do it on their own. Maybe this was a little too challenging?

Much of my experience has been with slightly older children and/or in more "educational" environments (schools and a museum that was all about educating children through creative projects). But should this placement (an art center) not be as challenging as a school? It's always still a learning experience. Also, because I am working with younger children (4-6), where is the line between encouraging challenging learning experiences and helping out with things that might be too advanced for a certain age group? Especially for young childred, there are certain developmental ages that really dictate what a child is capable of doing (i.e. scissors with the 2 yr olds).

Maybe I should read up on these stages...any suggestions?


jccohen's picture



I'm wondering whether the teacher is feeling the press of time, number of children, their focus (or not)...?  And yes, I agree with your impulse to model and coach as a way of helping the students develop their capacities in the context of this project.  While kids are of different ages and (alway) stages of development, I think it's almost always possible for a teacher to find a way to enter with the child that guides them into stretching their knowledge/skill, as you're trying to do here.

In terms of these as fieldnotes, I think it would be useful for you to go for denser, richer description -- of the space and how it's being used, the teacher and students, and the interactions.  For example, if you gave a fuller, more detailed description of one or several of these instances in which the teacher is doing for the child, or maybe one of these with a constrasting example, this might help both you and your readers to see/understand more about what's going on here (the ethnographic question for getting at local meanings).