Curiosity. Noun. The desire to learn or know about anything; Inquisitiveness.https://www.dictionary.com/browse/curiosity?s=t
Curiosity is the value that immediately sprang to mind as I chatted to one of my pupils this morning (over the phone, observing and respecting all social distancing and professional boundaries, I feel obligated to add!) They told me excitedly about all the things they had been getting up to since school closed towards the end of March. They shared tales of baking mishaps and successes, birdwatching, a shared project on Tudor monarchs with their sibling, films they had watched and games they had played with their family.
This child epitomised to me what Year One should be: a time when children are coming into their own, learning what they like and what they don’t, what they are interested in, and using this knowledge to guide their activities. In an ideal world, without data, assessments, Ofsted and the phonics screening check, this child’s passion for learning wouldn’t have to be something confined to home.
It is lovely each day to see my class’ work and spot their progress from afar. But there is something incredibly special about photographys and messages showing the natural curiosity of ‘my’ children. They are only five and six after all, they are hard-wired to explore their surroundings and have fun doing it. The element of choice offered by lockdown is allowing many of them to blossom.
A few examples of their adventures so far:
- reading to younger siblings
- creating a birthday card for a pony
- building a den to read in
- learning to play draughts and chess
- measuring, baking and tasting
- growing plants in the garden and on windowsills
- dressing up
- recreating famous works of art
I am amazed, daily, at the choices my class make. Not one of these activities is one that I have set for them to do. It is bizarre to think that I am getting to know some of them better now that I did in the classroom!
With the constant speculation around when schools will returns (because no, teachers haven’t a clue either) it was inevitable that I would start to think about what my classroom will be like when this is all over. It is hard to imagine a return to the rigidity of table work when I’ve seen what a good dose of freedom and curiosity can do for my children’s learning.
I’m a thinker. I’m naturally curious myself, so despite not knowing if I’ll still be in my current year group or even my current school, come September, I can’t help thinking what Post-Lockdown Year One would be like if the National Curriculum released its death-grip on my time-management. I think the joyous experience of seeing another side to my class might have opened up a curiosity wormhole all of its own. It might be time to research Year One continuous provision again, with a serious mind to making it work… Because if lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that curiosity can be beautiful. And I want some of that beauty in my classroom!