Alphabet Soup For All!

Today I got to go to the Lower School/ Founders Campus at MVPS to do some ethnography. This happened during lunch time, so the first thing we did was eat lunch, and the first graders happened to be there at the time. So now I have some awesome first grade friends. 

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From left to right we have Rachel the Fluffy Pet, Charlotte the Nice and Fair, Charlie the Fairy, Niki the Silly One, and Asher the Magical and Wise One. I had a ton of fun talking to them and I loved how open they were with me even though they barely knew me. Coming up with these nick names was a large part of the conversation, but I also learned how Niki has a twin named Madi and they are going on a nature adventure in the forest over the weekend, and Charlotte and Rachel do gymnastics at Jump Start so they know my parents. 

One of my favorite parts about observing was how they would ask questions that I would never think of. When I first got to the table they started by asking if I was a teenager and what I was doing over here, they specifically wanted to know why I had a notebook with me at lunch (I decided to use the new one today). I told them how I was a 10th grader across the street, and some of us had come across the street to just hang out and observe how they did stuff over here, so we would be going into some classrooms and taking notes here and there. 

After hearing I was a high schooler, Charlotte asked if I had to wear one of those square hats. This deeply confused me. Then I realized she was talking about the graduation hats that seniors get. I have never thought twice about those hats, and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t a common fact that seniors wear them for graduation. Then I realized that I have absolutely no clue why they wear those hats besides that it is tradition. I started to look it up some, and it was hard to find, but it has something to do with the Roman Catholic church I think, and then it slowly evolved. It bothered me a little that our school isn’t big and yet there is hardly any mixing of students across campuses. Another kid had asked Kat if the blazers are uncomfortable because that’s how they think of high schoolers: the ones in blazers. When I went out to recess with the 2nd graders, 2 kids were playing “high school”, and I was really interested to see what this meant to them, but then the teacher called them to go inside. 

There were still some groups at recess and I saw one little girl sitting by some twigs on a ball. I asked what she was doing and she had said that she built a fire. Apparently a few twigs were there and it reminded her of a camp fire, so she added twigs and leaves and was then sitting by it. She too asked about my notebook, so I explained and then she too created a nickname; Scarlet the Amazing. These younger students were really imaginative overall, and I loved how every time I talked about the names the kids at lunch came up with, kids wanted to make their own. What would your descriptive nickname be? I think I would be πnya the Curious. 

After the camp fire, I just kind of took in the idea of kids practiced creativity at recess. Then I thought about how slowly as you get older you don’t find kids playing “high school” or building a camp fire, and then eventually recess itself seises to exists. When I play improve games in drama I can actually feel myself not being as creative as I would like. I’m sure these younger students would be great at coming up with imaginative things in the spur of the moment, but I’m not as confident about high schoolers. I wonder how it could benefit high schoolers to have more times where we are prompted to play improv games that exercise are creative muscles, and by calling it an improv game rather than “play pretend” maybe they wouldn’t think of it as something just for “little kids”. 

I had such a fun time with the 1st and 2nd graders and seeing them in creative “fun time” places. Learning doesn’t only happen in a classroom, and you can observe outside of a classroom too. One of the weirdest things I learned is that our 1st graders aren’t allowed to eat soup. Plus they had alphabet soup today, and it was great! I was eating it and the kids asked “what is that” because they weren’t allowed to eat it. I felt kind of bad about it, and was also really curious. Why can’t they eat soup at school? Soup is hot I know, but is that really the problem? There are risks with everything, and learning from mistakes is kind of a school motto. Ya, they might burn themselves on the hand by dripping a little, but they hopefully will learn to not do it again. They will have to make that mistake sometime, so why not now? A lot of them have probably already learned this from eating soup somewhere else.

Another thing I questioned is why the high school doesn’t get alphabet soup. Why not? It gets made anyway, so why not make more and give some to the high schoolers? Shouldn’t we get to experience the joy of which letter we get, and trying to spell words? I think alphabet soup does a great job at sparking curiosity, and high schooler sometimes are the ones to need a little help with that. Alphabet soup for all! 

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