Perhaps the age has something to do with it. My high school students want neat projects - the first time! My younger children, Ty and Za, have very few problems making messes while learning.
|This is not a toppled book shelf. This is a ramp for cars, and Ty spent some time figuring out how he could eliminate the bumps the books caused.|
They learn by making messes. It would never occur to them to try a new task and not create a disaster. They dig, they discover, they search. And all of that is messy. They are also inquisitive, and naturally curious about learning everything; WHY is their favorite question.
|Again, vehicle study. Ty wanted to connect his vehicles, and he tried a variety of items to tie them together: a vacuum cord, plastic hanger, and cloth bag.|
My older students, I want them like this. They are not though. They avoid messes and get frustrated if a project goes out of line. Sometimes teachers encourage that behavior - keeping everything neat and contained.
|Ty and Za pretending the entertainment center is an ATM, and the papers from my new notebook are cash. Later when I cleaned, I realized they had crammed coins in there as well.|
I'm not encouraging disasters. I get terribly frustrated with my messy house. I even get frustrated with a messy classroom. Children, no matter the age, should clean up after themselves. Students should listen, especially because some messes can be dangerous (chemistry lab?).
I do wonder however if one problem with older children's waning excitement about learning lies in the suppressing of messes, the discouraging of them.
|Za was not easily discouraged when I told both of them to cut it out, and then collected the pages of my new notebook. Ty obediently went away, but the younger child? She kept pretending.|
"Messiness"is part of the learning process. Randy Pausch encouraged "parents to let their children draw on the bedroom walls — where the young Randy Pausch painted a quadratic equation, a rocket, an elevator and, from one of his favorite stories, Pandora’s box." I won't follow that advice completely, but hopefully I am less restrictive when my children are making messes, and learning.