Day Two…

Originally published Oct. 7, 2008

A quick update.

Our 22 students turned in to 35 students. Guess there’s nothing like a Coyote and Bear puppet to draw people to your classroom

Today we worked with the students on developing a pantomime activity, paying specific attention to how questioning can make the work child-centered. Steve demonstrated an activity we call “Pizza Pete,” where, in role, he engages the “children” (again the students as good 5-year-olds) in creating a pantomime pizza.

Since it’s a pretend pizza, there are no “wrong” answers (though, occasionally, challenging!). We ended up with a pizza covered in turquoise and pink sauce and various toppings – mushrooms, onions, olives (not my slice, thank you very much) and chocolate. It got a little singed on the edges, but luckily we remembered to blow on it so we wouldn’t burn our tongues while eating it.

After the demo, we split into two groups, and each group practiced round-robin facilitating/questioning around an activity (making a cake, making some soup). Steve’s group added a twist to their cake-making and turned it in to a “nasty” cake, full of worms and rotten strawberries and such. Lot’s of fun and no, I won’t tell you who they were making it for.

A couple of things my group of “children” discovered because questions were asked vs. simply being directed through the pantomime: you know olive oil is at sauteing temperature when it changes color (or you can toss a drop of water on the pan). Onions are done when THEY change color. Chopped carrots float (or, perhaps we should double check next time we cook REAL soup with them.) Also, if you add too much salt to your soup, add lots more water. Nothing like a little math and science to enliven a drama activity!

When we debriefed, we talked about how challenging asking questions — and incorporating the answers you get — can be. Like so many of us, they felt more comfortable “telling” or “directing” than asking. But, as participants and educators, the also completely understood — and felt — the power of a question asked honestly and an answer accepted unconditionally.

Speaking of questions, a great question from one of the students. To start off today’s session, we’d asked the class to reflect on yesterday’s work: what had they expected? How was the experience different/similar to what they expected? What questions did the work raise that they wanted us to explore during our time together? Said one student, “I’m going to be a counselor. How can I use this in my work? I’m told that, in my work, it helps to be like, or think like, the children.” (somewhat paraphrasing here)

We’ve asked her to hold on to that question and share back what she discovers throughout our sessions. We also asked all the students to consider how they might adapt our techniques to suit their particular major. I know several are English Lit. students, one is majoring in English translation, and another in Poli-Sci. I’m intrigued to hear what they come up with.

Speaking of answers, thanks so some local internet dialogue, I got one about the Jay-ish bird I’ve seen: it’s an Indian Roller. Beautiful, no?

Steve, who is very tolerant of my bird obsession, also saw the Roller today, and asked what other kinds of Jays there are (and, to be accurate, the Roller (as wikipedia tells me) was misidentified as part of the Jay family).

In the US we’ve got several, but I think the most spectacular one lives down in the south Texas area — the Green Jay.

Clearly, both birds visit the same feather-haberdashery.


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