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  • Steven Delpome

Learning at the edge of chaos


Okay, so...yeah, sometimes we cross over that edge too.

But to see what comes from this style of learning, as I’ve had the opportunity to now see at Closter Library over the course of three SOLE Hour sessions, is to see children being who and what they are, wild and curious people in search of absolutely everything.

Why can’t people breathe underwater?

When children are curious and at play, they discover and enjoy what they would care less about if the same ideas were forced upon them.

There’s nothing in those posters you wouldn’t find in a Science textbook. But it was discovered with emotion and purpose. It was knowledge constructed by the children, in a manner the children decided, to be shared with the children. It belongs to them now.

What would happen if pigs could fly?

Children learn about things that they aren’t actually aware of knowing yet. When they saw how big wings had to be to get an animal off the ground, they didn’t know it but the first seeds of principles of physics and aerodynamics were planted. When they heard from a video that Bacon prices would skyrocket because pigs would be difficult to capture, they only thought it was a fun fact, but when they encounter supply and demand later in life, they may remember flying pigs and bacon prices.

How do clouds stay in the sky?

Children often see the wonder in things we encounter and largely ignore every day. There’s no other way to explain a group of 13 children, who started off in several groups of two, three and four, over the course of a session forming a large group of about nine that moved around the room from computer to computer, all at once, without a leader directing them to, in order to see a woman create a water vapor cloud in her mouth;

then to read about a paratrooper who jumped into a massive storm and nearly died; then to watch a man make an arts and craft storm cloud that they could hand in their rooms;

then on to learn how to make real clouds in empty plastic soda bottles.

All one mass of arms and legs and excited voices bounding around in amazement at what most of us think of as mundane.

...and they picked up a bit of the science to boot.