Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hit it Until it Breaks

A friend of mine with two young sons clued me in to a unique mentality for boys. When they play, their only thought is, "How hard can I hit it until it breaks?"

When you think about it, that drive to test things out and explore or exceed limits is at the core of brain development.

Have you heard the term "sensorimotor?" It's a style of learning gaining in popularity as more teachers and parents recognize that book learning actually isn't natural.

Learning through paper and pen and words on a page is not part of the basic nature of human beings. The pyramids, the Venus de Milo and Chubby Checker's "The Twist" (the #1 Billboard song of all time) were created by hitting things until they broke. Trying things out. Exceeding limits. Moving monolithic stones, molding marble and combining rhythm, energy and a piano... these are all examples of sensorimotor skills.

Granted, none of those would have been possible had their creators not done their share of book learning. In fact, math featured prominently in each of those creations. Arithmetic for the pyramids, scale and geometry for the Venus de Milo, and musical composition for The Twist.

When it comes to little boys, most have an intuitive "break it" mentality. Book learning tends to be more difficult for boys than for girls. The Department for Children, Schools and Families in Britain released a pamphlet quoted here that says, "The qualities and skills that are most valued by schools, the ability to communicate orally and represent ideas on paper, are often the very aspects of learning that boys find most difficult."

My son's Goodnight Gorilla book looks like the gorilla escaped one night and ate it. But really, it was just my little boy exercising how to exceed the limits.
And if he breaks enough things, maybe he can do something like this with the pieces.

© play101blog.blogspot.com, 2011-2012

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