As part of our work on adaptation and evolution for Science Week, the kids needed to learn about and research different habitats and the particular advantages some animals have over others in these habitats. We were moving towards designing our own version of the beautiful ‘Remarkable Animals’ book by Tony Meeuwissen.
The kids were interested enough in the topic, and liked the concept of having to design their own animal that was perfectly suited to whichever habitat I gave them. I didn’t get the chance to teach them in the afternoons as I was doing other schooly tasks, and then I was given a strange pile of work this morning.
It was categorically not the fault of the cover teachers – my children know exactly what the expectations are, and that is the problem really. I only really recently how low my expectations are, in some areas. In terms of the creative subjects, and especially where art is involved, I have been way too keen to take on the perspective that ‘It’s all subjective!’ and to praise whatever they make, regarding it for its own expressive merits.
I look at the pile of stuff today; the kids scribbly creations seemed nothing but rushed. The kids hadn’t particularly thought it through, I though. Horrible as this is, I wouild have accepted this not too long ago, because my expectations for expressive work were quite low,. I knew that the children knew the knowledge – the adaptation idea – and that was kind of enough.
But today, having realised that actually the kids were just capable of so much more, we had another fierce attempt. We got through in one afternoon the amount of work they had been working on for the previous three: the quality of their ideas, their illustrations and their concept of the design were ten times better.
I was much harsher with them and they did much more. They had more to be proud of by the end of it, they produced more and they achieved more.