After reading an excerpt from an Atlantic Monthly article about the work of documentary photographer, James Mollison, students annotated; viewed and commented on the photo essay, Where Children Sleep; drew their own bedrooms (will be displayed in the halls by the end of the week); and participated in this morning's Socratic seminar. The Socratic method dates back to ancient Greece when Socrates used this process with his students and followers to gain a deeper understanding of an issue through thoughtful questioning and listening. Our Socratic seminar is almost entirely student run. Often times, I ask one question to begin the discussion and another one later in the session. Today, I asked:
In the article it states that "Where Children Sleep [captures] the diversity of and, often disparity between children's lives around the world..." Why is there such a disparity between the conditions of the children pictured in the photo essay?
Also in the article, it is written that "the project began on a brief to engage with children's rights..." What do you think should be rights all children should have?
Rebecca and I were amazed by the compassion, connections, perspective, insights, and other comments about the topic, children pictured, and issues that arose over the course of the one hour we spent together.
After over one hour of thoughtful and respectful discussion, students were asked to reflect on their participation in the seminar by answering:
1) As a listener, I...
2) As a speaker, I....
3) After analyzing the speaking web/map, I notice that I...
Prior to meeting our class room buddies, Jeanne and I sat down to talk about what we have been doing in our homerooms. I was intrigued when she said that her class had been meditating since the beginning of the school year. This practice reminded me of an activity I participated in long ago called, Mind in a Jar.
Jeanne and I got our homerooms together for the first time last Friday and talked briefly about and asked the children to observe a jar of water. "It is clear," a first grader shouted. "It's calm and still," another added. When are our minds like this? "When I'm sitting in my mom's lap." "When my friend is holding my hand." "When I'm outside." After this, I added colored sand, beads, and small stones and gave the jar a good spin. I then asked, "When are our minds like this?" "At recess." "When I have to get ready to go to school and my parents are rushing me out the door."
Each child made their own minds in a jar. Hopefully, in the hour that followed, each child could see their objects spinning around and settle and, in turn, bring awareness to when their minds spin and find a peaceful state and space. In our next session, we will practice ways and strategies so we can move from a whirling mind to one that is calm and clear.