Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gears of my childhood

I am taking a class at MIT called Learning creative learning, an online course offered by MIT media lab on the use of technology to rethink education. It covers a lot of topics that are close to my heart - education, creativity, bringing up children etc.

So first things first, As homework for the class, we were asked to write a paragraph about the things from my childhood that were like gears, in the sense that they influenced my childhood. For me, that is hopscotch

I remember vividly how we, neighbourhood kids used to play on the street as children  hopscotch for hours. I must have been about six years old then. We used to play for hours at a stretch, throwing stones into the hopscotch squares (which we drew with a stick on the earth), and inventing new ways to challenge ourselves to do the hopscotch routing without stepping on the lines. My favorite was with the eyes closed or balancing the stone on top of my head. We moved shortly after to live in Ooty and we didnt have any neighbours with kids of my age, so the hopscotch stopped there. But it gave me a love for two things - simplicity and risk taking.

The most beautiful things that we learn from are often the simplest. A stick, a stone a couple of kids and a patch of earth, and out of that emerge creativity in different domains - physical fitness, gross and fine motor, social skills, some mental challenges. In those days, we didnt have dedicated children's playgrouonds. The front of our house, where we played in, we often shared the space with vehicles - mostly bicycles and motorbikes, but sometimes the occassional auto and car. However, in those days, the adlts were not too concerned with their kids sharing their space with vehicles. Sure there were accidents. i remember a nasty one that I had falling down and hitting myself on the temple and I vaguely remember a collision with a bicycle, but none of them were life threatening.

As a parent now, while I will never let my children play on the streets with cars, I am a lot more looser when it comes to play time rules. I am one of those parents who lets her child explore with minimum limits and so long as some ground line hygiene demands are met, I am not very fussy about the children playing on grass or earth. I am sure, though I cant draw a direct link, that solme of my experiences playing hopscotch with other young children, mostly barefoot on a dusty front street must have contributed somewhat to my adult attitude.


As I am taking a good bit of time following the course, i am fairly quiet these days on the blogosphere.

 To top it off, Anjali had her third Coats surgery two days ago. According to the doctor, she is making good recovery, and her eye is healing well, but more on that later. The book that I am writing, in the hope of giving Anjali a moral boost, as well as for (hopefully) raising money for the Coats foundation is going strong. I am writing consistently, but have yet to fix the crowd funding website.

In the home front, we have also been busy. It has been a difficult weekend, owing to the surgery and other personal issues, best left undiscussed in the blog. But here are some joyful moments

This is Sophia's Tshirt that she colored herself with crayons some time ago. She wore it very proudly to the market on Saturday.
 This funy material that the kids are playing with is halfway between playdough and goop, made with cornflour and dish soap and mixed to a playdough consistency, it is moldable when pressed hard, as is non-newtonian property of cornflour goop
 Anjali and Sophia had a good hour playing and exploring the properties of the material.

One thing about kids playing is that their play often shifts to thier interests. When playing with this material too, they spent a less time talking about what the material was and why/ how it behaves like this - which is what an adult will do, they go tangential to the plot. This time, Anjali and Sophia did a lot of story telling, starring this pink gloopy stuff. Anjali even made up some songs. I am not going to repeat the lines of the song here, it may not be very kid friendly verses.
 Here is a necklace that i crocheted for Anjali. I wanted something for her to wear her pendant with that I made myself. Its my first crocheted necklace and I am pretty pleased how it came out.

Going back to the creative learning course, the first week's challenge was to build a structure with one marshmallow, spagetti sticks, tape and string such that the marshmallow is on top. This is the structure that Anjali came up with. incidentally, there is a ted talk on this and Kindergarteners have the highest chance of having a standing structure. 

We did this in a very interesting way, as one of the participants of the course was a lady named Elowen Rhode and we did this video conferencing this where she was working with her four kids and we were working with the two. It was kind of wierd to do an activity with someone else doing the same activity online, especially someone whom you havent met before, but it didnt seem to bother the girls at all. On the contrary, they were their own goofy selves

At some point husband stepped up and helped us with a bigger structure. it stood, but I didnt get a picture. He made one again, but it collapsed.

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