I love my job.
I think it is because there is so much to watch and think about. I get so much energy from the children. It’s like their excitement is contagious. It feels like you are somehow involved in the most exciting project ever and there is no boss to take you back to reality and say how it won’t work (that is sort of me and I only say anything if I think they may really hurt themselves and even then I just ask questions).
Some children, who met on this day and may not consider themselves friends, are taking their raft down to the “river”…. Before this point there was the mandatory standing around having discussions. It’s all “ooo yeah” “we could..” “I am doing …” loudly but yet not over top of each other. There did appear to be a lot of listening. The making was mainly the older ones – I did zero knots, I wasn’t involved except that they have to have an adult to go down to the “river.” Some kids are bossy (show leadership and organisational skills) yet still seem to listen, some wait then drop in a revolutionary idea that gets taken up, some mostly watch or do as they are asked. There may have been some discussion on whether tyres floated but I missed it. Even getting the raft down the muddy steps required not just cooperation but working in total unity, an understanding of each others strengths and constant updates so as not end in disaster. It was beautiful.
When they discovered that the raft did not float and the tyres came off, did it matter? Not a bit. To the people involved this was a highly successful mission. They nearly all got totally wet, then they had to rescue the tyres and carry this wet raft back up. After lunch they even took it to another part of the stream in an attempt to float it through the culvert to a slightly deeper pool on the other side. knowing the whole time they had to lift it back up!! It takes a lot of drive to do this kind of project that takes many hours. At any point one of the kids could have gone “too hard” and left but none of them did. They did things that adults find hard – making sure each one of them felt invested in the project, that it was their project.. I am not saying that there weren’t arguments because there were, just that when there were they were heard and discussed, it appeared no ones feelings were hurt! They motivated each other. One of the kids came back the next day with a design revision – that one fell apart before it reached the river but still got a whole new set of kids driven to attempt the fantasy. This was a totally opt in project.
This was the Olympics, yet again. If you have ever done organised sport or school sports days you will know that they take a lot of organisation. The kids did all that. There were as my mother would have said “a lot of cooks” but once again this was opt in. The kids did not have to be involved, at any point they could have walked off and this whole event not happened. There is a lot of negotiation to to successfully get people to maintain interest in the project and a lot of enthusiasm and drive from the keen beans to interest the others.
Even this mini project took some children a considerable period of time and effort. They really wanted a tree house for their guys. They decided what, where and how, and worked to achieve something that is too hard for one person to do. They didn’t falter at any hurdle, they argued and worked together then moved on to the next thing that challenged them.
I don’t know if you can replicate this kind of project in a school. Do you get the same drive to succeed if it is not self driven? I know our school holiday programme with its child led nature, it’s emphasis on being outside where there is lots of space, our collection of strange and useful junk mixed with trust in the children creates an atmosphere where this kind of thing happens. These kind of projects happen every single day. I never know what projects there will be. I skim a bit of energy off the kids and watch them exercise their phenomenal amount of drive to achieve their weird and wonderful ideas and I am jealous.