Friday, August 04, 2006

Skill of observation

I remembered today how important it is to really just observe the kids. It's such a cool thing to do--just mentally sit back and just watch them. No judgment, no interfering, just watch what and how they do things.

I can't remember now the specifics, but I was with my niece and was observing what she was doing. Children are so fascinating when we can take the time to do this. And it was then that I realized that I hadn't been doing a lot of observing lately. A lot of thinking and trying to plan and wondering, but not a lot of observing.

Just before lunch, I sat back and was reading from "Non-Violent Communication" which had been recommended on a Montessori list. Rosenberg, the author, writes, "The Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence." Isn't it interesting that on the day I remember how important observing is I go and pick up a book that makes such a comment? :) I can not help but think of Maria Montessori being a pure genius in her observations, able to see clearly what was going on and nobody else being able to prove it without extensive research until some 80 years later. Modern research on learning and development proves much of what she learned just by observing children. [I've realized there is little coherence in this paragraph, but just rambling from one idea to the next. My apologies.]

Back to observation. It's a skill that I think the school system simply expects kids to have but not really aim to teach them. Kids are supposed to observe what's going on and follow directions and a multitude of other things that teachers take as a given and when students don't, they think the student's not paying attention. It's just that they don't know what to pay attention to.

I think there's good reason that Maria Montessori and Charlotte Mason both stressed the importance of developing attention, both encouraging nature as one of the means. For Mason, it was the primary means of developing the skills of observation, which automatically develop attention. There is so much to be learned, without being 'taught' simply by knowing how to observe and have that attention.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. The dryer just beeped and dh's cordless electric screwdriver is making noise and I've lost my train of thought. I think I'll blame it all on the rain instead. :D

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